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Big Game License Options
Big Game License Options

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Colorado offers several types of big game licenses and options for purchasing them. Hunters—resident and nonresident—can select from archery, muzzleloader and rifle  seasons by species and by Game Management Units, called GMUs.

Licenses are sold from three main categories:

  1. Over-the-Counter Licenses (available in mid-July)
  2. Leftover Limited Licenses (available in early August​
  3. Limited Licenses (through an application & draw process in early April)​
To ensure you have a license you want come this fall, review the options below.

​Over-the-Counter Licenses

(Available 9 a.m. July 21, 2015 )

No application is necessary to purchase over-the-counter (OTC) licenses that go on sale July 21, 2015. These are sold online, by phone 1-800-244-5613, at license agents, and at CPW offices and Parks around the state.

  • Over-the-Counter (OTC) Unlimited Licenses: These are available to both resident and nonresident hunters starting at 9 a.m. (MDT) July 21. They are sold online, by phone at 1-800-244-5613, at license agents and CPW locations around the state. There are an unlimited number of these licenses that may be purchased any time up until the day before your hunting season starts. After the season starts, they are available at CPW offices only, except for archery elk OTC licenses and plains elk OTC licenses, which can be purchased at any license agent.​

  • There are also OTC: Either-sex and cow elk archery licenses; either-sex pronghorn archery licenses; and either-sex and doe rifle white-tailed deer licenses that allow hunting in numerous units around the state. The applicable maps of these units are in the species sections of the brochure and can be downloaded online.

OTC licenses can be purchased without an application, provide you the flexibility to discover new units, allow you to scout different habitat, and, potentially, combine your hunt with the opportunity to hunt another species.

  • Over-the-Counter Licenses with Caps: A preset number of licenses are available on a first-come, first-served basis for both resident and nonresident hunters. These are called licenses “with caps.” They are sold online, by phone at 1-800-244-5613 or at CPW locations and license agents starting at 9 a.m. (MDT) July 21.​

Leftover Limited Licenses

(Available 9 a.m. Aug. 4, 2015  in person or by phone 1-800-244-5613)
(Available Online midnight Aug. 5, 2015)

These are the leftover limited licenses remaining after the limited license draw.  If you purchase one of these licenses, you will not use any of your preference points.

  • Leftover Limited Licenses: These are available to both resident and nonresident hunters.  They are the limited licenses remaining after the draw and leftover draw processes. They go on sale in person and by phone 1-800-244-5613, at 9 a.m. (MDT) on Aug. 4. Contact the license agent you plan to go to for details. They are also available online on the CPW website starting at midnight Aug. 5.

​​Before You Buy or Apply: Required Information

  • Hunter Education: Everyone born on or after January 1, 1949, must hold a valid hunter education card/certificate before applying for or purchasing any hunting license or before applying for a preference point. Your hunter education card/certificate and the appropriate license(s) must be in your possession while hunting. For details, see the Hunter Education pages.

  • Social Security Number: As required by the Colorado Child Support Enforcement Act, established by HB 97-1205 and implemented through 24-33-110 C.R.S., a valid Social Security Number (SSN) is required for anyone 12 or older to purchase or apply for all CPW licenses. Your SSN is not shown on your license. It is provided, when requested, to the Colorado Department of Human Services, Child Support Enforcement, as required by law and is used to enforce the law.

  • Photo I.D.: A photo I.D. is​​ required for all license purchases. Proof of residency is also required for Colorado residents. ​​​​

Limited Licenses by Drawing

(Application deadline is April 5, 2016)​​

These are the big game licenses that are limited in number for specific units (GMUs) and hunting seasons. These are distributed through the license application and drawing process. They include public land hunts, private-land-only licenses and Ranching for Wildlife (RFW) licenses. 

  • Applications are due before midnight on the first Tuesday in April each year (April 5, 2016).

  • Apply early to avoid any last-minute online rush!

  • You can submit your application online or by mail (a mail-in application comes with the printed brochure). Nonresident sheep, goat and moose applications can only be accepted by mail.

  • The Big Game brochure contains elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer, pronghorn, moose and bear information.

  • The Sheep and Goat brochure contains Rocky Mountain bighorn, desert bighorn and mountain goat information.

  • Applications allow you to request up to four hunt code choices to maximize your opportunity to hunt.

  • License prices, hunt codes, game management unit boundary descriptions and other requirements are published in the brochures.

All nonresident big game licenses purchased automatically include  an annual fishing license, so bring your fishing rod when you're hunting or start planning a summer scouting trip.

 

Youth ages 12 to 17 years old can purchase limited licenses at a reduced cost. Youth can also benefit by receiving preference for many draw units (see the Colorado Big Game brochure, page 5, for details).

Other Types of Limited Licenses

  • Private-Land-Only licenses include private lands within GMUs listed on the licenses as well as State Trust Lands not leased by CPW, but which have an active private recreational lease through the State Land Board (hunters should ask the landowner if this applies). ​Permission from private landowners is always needed before hunting with a private-land-only license. Please get permission  before applying.

Ranching for Wildlife licenses are available to all Colorado residents. Resident hunters may apply to hunt a specific ra​​nch. Each ranch has specific rules. ​(see page 14 of the Colorado Big Game brochure)

Flexible Options​

Leftover Draw Option - only available on the application

Leftover Draw Option (elk and deer applications only)

​Elk and deer applicants can have first choice of the limited licenses that are leftover from the April drawing process by checking the "Leftover Draw" option box on the application. In June, you will be mailed the list of the leftover limited licenses still available and an application. By returning that application, you'll get first chance at any of the leftover licenses before they go on sale to everyone in August.

Remember: between the primary application and leftover application, you have eight chances (four choices on your primary application, four on your leftover application) to draw before limited licenses go on sale over leftover day. Skip the line and use all of your choices!

If you don’t see anything you want on the leftover draw list, you can still purchase an over-the-counter (OTC) license or request a refund on this application.

If you do not draw or return a Leftover Draw application, your application fee is refunded, but the $3 processing fee and $10 Habitat Stamp fee will be retained.

Preference Point Only Option 

Preference points (see page 12 of the Colorado Big Game Brochure) increase your chances of drawing a limited license and are awarded by species. Preference points are earned automatically when you don't draw your first hunt choice. They cannot be used the same year they are earned. If you can't hunt this year, but intend to in the future, you can apply for just a preference point by entering the "preference point only" hunt code in the "1st choice hunt code" boxes on the application and submitting it with the license payment for each species. The license portion of the payment will automatically be refunded to you after the draw. (If you do not qualify for a free preference point, a preference point fee will be taken from the refund; see the Colorado Big Game Brochure for details).