Public Ranching for Wildlife (RFW) licenses are available only to Colorado residents through the CPW draw process. Licenses are valid only for the season and ranch specified.
Species hunted and available to hunters by limited license draw include:
- Black bear
- Bighorn sheep
Not every ranch offers licenses for every species.
Maps of Ranch Locations
For more detailed maps and more information on each ranch, visit the Participating Ranches page.
Public hunting on these ranches is a privilege and hunters need to present a favorable impression of sportsmen. Successful applicants will receive instructions to access a secure web page from which they will obtain their ranch rules. Because rules vary at each ranch, hunters must read the rules carefully in order to fully understand and adhere to them. Before applying, review the prior year’s ranch rules, which can be found at
CPW officers have the authority to seize licenses and expel hunters not complying with ranch rules. In addition, aggravated violations of ranch rules can result in the violator losing their privilege to apply for or participate in any other RFW season forever.
CPW will contact deer, elk, and pronghorn hunters after the season ends. Hunters will be questioned about the level of access, service from the ranch, perceptions about crowding with other hunters, and their overall level of satisfaction with their RFW hunt. The results of these surveys are part of an evaluation to help determine if a ranch will be allowed to continue in the RFW program.
Ranch Conditions and Services
Ranches and ranch personnel are expected to treat hunters courteously and as welcome hunting guests. As such, CPW expects ranches to provide you with advice on hunting areas with reasonable chance at harvesting animals, as well as sound advice on hunting strategies that will improve your chances of harvest. Most hunters heeding ranch advice have higher success for the kind of animal they seek. However, as with any hunt, this is just advice and not a guarantee.
By agreement of CPW managers, the ranches may impose certain conditions to distribute hunters and harvest across the ranch for hunt quality and harvest management reasons. Ranches may also require the use of guides – but when required, the guide service is provided free of charge and tipping guides for free services is strictly forbidden. Some ranches may offer additional optional services such as packing, guiding, or lodging, and may charge for these optional services. However, hunters should not expect these services.
Weather conditions can influence access and game movements beyond the control of CPW or the ranch. However, if a ranch or certain ranch personnel fail to welcome you courteously or professionally or if ranch staff actions create problems with your hunt, you should contact your local Wildlife Office immediately.
Hunters should expect a challenging hunt. These are not “canned hunts." Deer on the eastern plains exist at much lower densities than they do in much of western Colorado, and this holds true for the plains of RFW ranches as well. Regardless of where one chooses to hunt in the RFW program, hunters should not expect an easy hunt.
RFW hunts are very popular with hunters, so drawing male or either sex licenses can often require five or more points. To determine the estimated points needed to draw a particular license, go to the Big Game Statistics
page, click on the species you are interested in, and open the link to the "Drawn Out At" report. You will need to know the hunt code you are interested in, which can be found in the special section for Ranching for Wildlife under each species in the Colorado Parks and Wildlife's Big Game Brochure
A high number of preference points needed to draw a license does not necessarily mean that the ranch has large numbers of big bucks or bulls. Instead, preference points may correspond to the ranch’s reputation for providing hunters with a high quality hunting experience.
How to Apply
To apply for the RFW license draw, first look in the special section for Ranching for Wildlife under each species in the Regulation brochure. The Big Game Brochure
is available annually in mid-February. Turkey and Bighorn Sheep licenses are issued through separate drawings and these dates are listed in the Turkey Brochure
(out late Dec.) and Bighorn Sheep/Mountain Goat Brochure
(out mid-Feb.), respectively. The brochures will list updated season dates for each ranch, as they vary and change each year.
You can apply online
through CPW's online licensing system or by phone at 1-800-244-5613.
Check Commission regulations dealing with the RFW program in
Chapter 2, Article I, #210, and
Chapter 3, Article II, #323.5. These regulations provide the legal foundation for the RFW program, but the practical aspects of the program are governed by the operating guidelines which you can view at