Kristen A. Schmitt
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Hunter opportunity and trophy-quality animals in this area are both doing well. There is a wide variety of big game species to hunt in Colorado. Like everywhere else, the most desired seasons in the famous units will take years to draw, but there are many other units that can be drawn with few preference points, especially for the muzzleloader or archery hunter. The western half of the state is known as the western slope and the eastern half is flat and referred to as the eastern plains. Both have quality deer hunting. Landowner vouchers are a great way to pick up a tag without affecting your preference-point totals.
Colorado considers all applicants first choices before they consider any subsequent choice. Typically most of the hunt choices are filled during this first pass and there is usually no need for a second choice on the application. In some cases, hunt choices may go undersubscribed and be eligible to draw as a second, third or fourth choice. If an applicant draws any choice other than their first, then they earn an additional point in addition to receiving a tag.
For rocky mountain bighorn sheep, mountain goat and moose, the tags are awarded differently through a weighted point drawing system.
Preference points: Colorado uses preference points for their drawings. With a preference point system, the tags are allocated to the applicants with the most preference points. There is no maximum number of points that an applicant can accumulate for deer, elk and antelope. The maximum number of preference points an applicant can have for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, mountain goat and moose is three. There are no preference points for desert sheep.
Weighted points: Every subsequent year that an applicant for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, mountain goat and moose is unsuccessful, they are awarded a weighted point. During the drawing the application is assigned a random number, which is then divided by the number of weighted points accumulated by the applicant, plus one. This will render a new number. The first tag is issued to the applicant with the lowest new number and so on.
Colorado does not have a separate hunting license to purchase. They do require big game hunters to purchase an annual habitat stamp.
Credit cards are accepted (Visa, Mastercard, and Discover). Credit cards will be charged the entire species license fee applied for at the time you submit your application. If you are unsuccessful in the draw, you will receive a refund less the application and preference point fee.
Hunter Safety is required for any hunters born on, or after, January 1, 1949.
Withdrawing or correcting an application is allowed. Corrections must be done by submitting a form online on the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website.
Four hunt choices are allowed per species, but only the first choice is considered for nearly all hunt choices. Most hunt choices are filled before any second, third and fourth choice is considered. If you draw your first choice, then your preference points will be used. If you draw your second choice, you will build an additional preference point in addition to being drawn. Please read “Tag lottery” and “Nonresident allocation” for details on the drawing process.
Archery: Hunters may not use crossbows during the archery seasons. Bows must have a minimum draw weight of 35 pounds and no more than 80% let-off. No scopes or electronic devices can be attached to the bow. Only broadheads wider than ⅞” are legal.
Muzzleloader: Muzzleloaders must be a minimum of .40 caliber for deer and antelope and .50 caliber on elk and moose. Only loose form powder that is not smokeless or pelletized is allowed. Sabots are not legal in Colorado. No scopes are allowed, regardless of the magnification. No electronic devices can be attached to the muzzleloader.
Rifle: Only centerfire rifles are legal.