For updates on Colorado Parks & Wildlife's Refund, Reissue and Exchange policies, please visit the
Refund, Reissue & Exchange page.
April 3, 2018 - Limited License application deadline
August 7, 2018 – Leftover Limited Licenses on sale starting at 9 a.m.
August 9, 2018 – Over-The-Counter Licenses on sale at 9 a.m. (no application necessary)
For more information on license options and availability, please visit the
Big Game Licenses Option page.
Hunter Education certification and your card number are required
before applying for or purchasing a Colorado hunting license if you were born on or after
1/1/49. Colorado honors hunter education certifications from other states and provinces. Read
more or find a class on the hunter education pages.
Colorado offers 10 big game species. The Big Game brochure contains
regulations for deer, elk, pronghorn, moose and bear and on page 13 an identification page that helps identify animals by gender. Brochures are
available online or in print from 750 license vendors throughout the state.
Colorado is divided into hunting areas called game management units
(GMUs). Each year, a limited number of licenses (sometimes called quota) are allotted to each
GMU. Some licenses are also available over-the-counter and are not limited in number.
Familiarity with your hunting area increases your chance for success. It is important that
every hunter know the boundaries of their hunting area. Check out the state maps and unit
descriptions in the brochure or online.
In general, archery season starts in late August and last almost a
month. Muzzeloader season starts in the middle of archery season, and four rifle seasons
follow that. The first rifle season is limited to elk hunting only.
The second, third and fourth rifle seasons are combined seasons, where
deer and elk hunters are in the field at the same time.
The Colorado Big Game Hunting Planner lists season dates, fees, and
application dates and deadlines. The five-year season structure overview is a useful long-
range season date planner.
Colorado offers distinct seasons for archery, muzzleloader and rifle
hunting. Legal requirements for the various hunting methods and transporting them in the field
are in the brochures.
You need a hunt code to apply for or buy a license. The hunt code
includes the species, sex, game management unit, season/dates and method of take. How to read a
hunt code and the tables where they are listed in the brochure are on page 17.
When submitting an application in April, you may apply with up to
four hunt codes for one fee on each species application. On deer and elk applications, you can
also apply in a second draw called the ‘Leftover Draw’ if you check the box that says “If
unsuccessful, send me (‘X the Leftover Draw’). Page 4 in the brochure explains your choices in more detail. If you do not draw in the Leftover Draw, you will not owe a license fee. There will still be leftover limited licenses and over-the-counter (OTC) licenses available in early August. Hunters should check the leftover list for opportunities.
Preference points are not needed to purchase big game leftover limited licenses (on sale starting August 7, 2018) and over-the- counter (OTC) licenses (on sale August 9, 2018) nor will you use any of your accumulated points for these license purchases.
fact, ninety to ninety-five percent of Colorado’s GMUs require no preference points — or just a
single preference point — in order to draw a limited license in those units. Preference points
are earned when you apply for a limited license, but are unsuccessful in drawing a license for
your first-choice hunt or when you purchase a point through the application process. Many
hunters collect points and also hunt each year. Researching the number of points required for
the GMUs you want to hunt is useful before applying.
Colorado publishes several statistical reports that contain the
license quotas, application stats, post-draw stats, number of preference points used to draw
each license and harvest estimates. Learn how to read
the reports online. If you are so inclined, studying the statistics
of the unit(s) you are interested in hunting prior to applying can refine the choices you make
on your application.
Colorado offers an unlimited quantity of over-the-counter (OTC) bull
elk rifle licenses during the second- and third- rifle seasons because we have the largest elk
herds in North America. These OTC licenses do not require an application or preference points
to purchase. OTC archery elk, pronghorn and bear licenses are also available. See the big game brochure table of contents page which lists the maps and page
numbers where over-the-counter licenses are available under each species.
To Purchase a license online, you’ll need the following information handy: