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5-Year Season Structure
5-Year Season Structure
Elk Herd

5-Year Season Structure Update

At this time in our process to set the Big Game Season Structure (BGSS) for 2015-2019, CPW staff is refining alternatives for consideration by the Parks and Wildlife Commission. A comprehensive public involvement process, which was completed in April 2014, informed the development of draft alternatives first forecasted at the May Commission meeting in Grand Junction.

The public input received reflected a high degree of satisfaction with the current Big Game Season Structure, especially with the current deer, elk and moose seasons. CPW heard an interest from hunters in adjusting seasons for pronghorn to address the timing of different methods of take. Hunters also communicated a strong interest in increasing opportunities for youth to access licenses and to participate in big game hunts. In addition, hunters requested more opportunity to hunt black bears and mountain lions. Preference points, concerns regarding preference point creep and interest in banking were some of the most common issues addressed in written public comments received by CPW. According to the Big Game Attitude Survey which was filled out by over 3,000 randomly selected hunters for each of the species, only about 5 percent of respondents were interested in banking. The survey also found that there was more interest in banking by hunters holding a high number of points. For respondents who had fewer preference points, there was more interest in a random draw where they would have more of a chance to draw the high demand hunts. For details on the public involvement process and on the public input received in regard to the Big Game Season Structure, please see our Summary Report of Public Involvement.

Process & Timeline

The CPW 2015-2019 Big Game Season Structure process was approved by the Commission in the summer of 2013. During the fall of 2013, CPW undertook an internal review process to identify some of the priority issues in order to inform public involvement in the process. This review wrapped up in January 2014, and then CPW focused on collecting input from the public on how hunting season structure is working and how it can be improved.

CPW used multiple tools to share information on the process with the public and to collect public input into how hunting season structures may be improved. These included media, CPW website, in-person meetings, and a survey mailed to about 7,000 big game hunters. Just over 3,000 public comments were received during this process. 388 people attended 16 BGSS public meetings held in February throughout the state. Telephone Town Hall meetings for both resident and out-of-state hunters were held in March. Between the two calls, 50,000 big game hunters (25,000 resident and 25,000 nonresident) were contacted and 4,169 hunters participated in the calls. Three focus groups were held in April. CPW staff closely reviewed public input along with wildlife and management considerations in the development of season structure proposals.

A forecast of draft alternative proposals was presented to the Commission at their May meeting in Grand Junction followed by an opportunity for public comment. The first draft of alternatives was presented at the June Commission meeting in Alamosa and public comments were received. A final draft of alternatives will be presented to the Commission at their July meeting in Meeker for Commission vote. Prior to the vote, public will have an opportunity to comment. For Commission documents including the most recent version of draft alternatives, click here.

Following the July Commission decision on alternatives, staff will create a set of draft regulations for Commission consideration and adjustments at the August Commission meeting. This regulations package will provide the details that define and describe the selected BGSS alternatives in detail.

In order to inform regulation setting for the 2015 seasons, the Commission will need to approve the 2015-2019 Big Game Season Structure in September 2014. Public comments are important to the Commission process and will be received until the final BGSS approval in September. To submit comments, please attend a Commission meeting and speak in person, email: or write to:

Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission
c/o Public Involvement Unit
Colorado Parks and Wildlife
1313 Sherman St, Denver, CO 80203

Why do we have a 5-yr structure?

The 5-Year Season Structure helps guide Colorado Parks and Wildlife management activities to keep game populations in balance with habitat. In addition, it helps the agency provide a broad range of hunting experiences to fit the varied preferences of different hunters.

The Commission adopts the Big Game Season Structure for a five-year time period for several reasons. First, this timeframe provides consistency for agency personnel to assess the effectiveness of management actions and hunting seasons over time. Second, it is for your convenience! It allows hunters the opportunity to request vacation time, plan hunts, and arrange schedules. It allows landowners to plan for seasons and hunter opportunities consistent with their other land uses. It allows guides and outfitters, restaurant and motel owners, and other service providers to make business plans with some certainty about hunting seasons for the five year period.

Working within the 5-Year Big Game Season Structure, the Commission issues annual hunting regulations that set the number of licenses available in each game unit, define allowable hunting methods, and address other specific management needs. These annual regulations draw on the wildlife data gathered by CPW’s biologists as well as issues raised by wildlife managers, hunters, landowners, and other concerned people.

Every five years, the Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts a Big Game Season Structure to provide an overall framework for annual hunting regulations. The 5-Year Big Game Season Structure addresses issues like the length and timing of seasons for different species and hunting methods, the general proportion of licenses that will be limited or unlimited, and the balance among different kinds of hunting opportunities.  The current Big Game Season Structure ends in 2014, and the next cycle will cover 2015-2019.  Ideas and comments from the public are crucial to this process. To learn more about CPW’s Big Game Season Structure, please click here


The 2015-2019 Big Game Season Structure will describe the dates, timing, and length of big game seasons for elk, deer, pronghorn, moose, bear, and mountain lion. (It will not address bighorn sheep and mountain goat seasons.) Season structure includes issues like the number of seasons for each species and method of take, overlap among different seasons and methods of take, breaks between seasons, and the timing of beginning and ending dates.

Historic Big Game Season Structure changes to the preference point system have included preference point banking (implemented only for 2006) and the creation of a new hybrid draw system for deer, elk, pronghorn, and bear in 2010.  CPW continues to address the concern that as more hunters accumulate more preference points, the ability to draw limited licenses is negatively impacted.  Providing a mechanism for hunters to utilize preference points for a premium hunting experience and for increased hunting opportunity will be considered during the current Big Game Season Structure process.

In the past, the Commission has considered designation of units for totally limited elk hunting in a process separate from, but concurrent with the Big Game Season Structure.  We will continue to follow this process during the 2015-2019 season structure discussions.  Again, as was done for the last two 5-year cycles, this will rely on a formal public nomination process in which citizens submit proposals and document the support for limiting any specific unit (see guidelines below).

Key Issues

Based on an internal review with feedback from regional offices around the state, CPW identified the following issues to be considered in the 2015-2019 Big Game Season Structure.

  • Preference points and hunting opportunity

  • Youth hunting opportunity

  • Pronghorn season timing, including muzzleloader season

  • Bear hunting opportunity

  • Adjustments to the mountain lion season

  • Examination of elk and deer seasons (e.g., private lands, methods of take, structure of rifle season)

  • Examination of the timing and hunting methods for moose seasons in relationship to other big game hunting.

While these issues may capture some of the primary topics related to big game hunting seasons, additional issues may be identified based on public comments.  Other issues that are identified as being of primary concern to the public will also receive appropriate consideration. 

Big Game Season Structure Background Documents and Data:

How Can You Participate?

Public comments are now being received through the Commission process.

CPW extends a big THANK YOU to everyone who took the time to submit comments and/or participate in a public meeting, a telephone town hall, the Big Game Attitude Survey, or a focus group. CPW greatly appreciates your input into setting our Big Game Season Structure for the next five years.

If you would like to stay involved in big game issues, please sign up for E-news– Updates and information will be distributed via email and social media. Another way to receive information is to register for the CPWInsider. Check the 'Hunting' box when you are asked to include a category. You will receive news releases and other updates on the BGSS process and opportunities to get involved. 

During this process, CPW used a mix of meetings and special forums to give public the chance to discuss the structure of big game hunting seasons and preference points and make recommendations for improvement. This process included 16 public meetings held across the state.

Northeast Region

  • Feb. 12 - Denver - CPW office, Hunter Ed Building, 6060 Broadway, 6:30 - 9:30 p.m.
  • Feb. 20 - Loveland - The Ranch at Loveland, Larimer County Conference Center, Sandhouse, Beard and Brown meeting rooms, 5280 Arena Circle #100, 6:30 - 9:30 p.m.
  • Feb. 25 - Fort Morgan - Morgan County Community College, Founders Room, 920 Barlow Road, 6:30-9:30 p.m.

Southeast Region

  • Feb. 14  - Lamar - CPW Area Office, 2500 South Main St., 6 - 8:30 p.m.
  • Feb. 19  - Buena Vista - Sangre de Cristo Electric Building, 29780 US Hwy 24, 6 - 8:30 p.m.
  • Feb. 21 - Colorado Springs - CPW Regional Office, 4255 Sinton Road, 6 - 8:30 p.m.
  • Feb. 26 - Pueblo- Lake Pueblo State Park Auditorium, 640 Pueblo Reservoir Road, 6 - 8:30 p.m.
  • Feb. 28 - Walsenburg - Lathrop State Park, 70 County Road 502, 6 -8:30 p.m.

Northwest Region

  • Feb. 19 - Steamboat Springs - USFS/CPW office, 925 Weiss Drive, 6 - 8 p.m.
  • Feb. 20 - Eagle - Eagle County Fairground, 426 Fairgrounds Road, 6 - 8 p.m.
  • Feb. 24 - Meeker - Mountain Valley Bank, 4th and Main, 6 - 8 p.m.
  • Feb. 25 - Grand Junction - Doubletree Hotel, Kokopelli Room, 743 Horizon Drive, 6 - 8 p.m. 

Southwest Region

  • Feb. 18 - Montrose - CPW office, 2300 South Townsend Ave., 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
  • Feb. 19 - Gunnison - CPW office, 300 W. New York Ave., 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
  • Feb. 25 - Monte Vista - CWP office, 0722 S. Road 1E, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
  • Feb. 26 - Durango - La Plata County Fairgrounds Extension Building, 2500 Main Ave., 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.

Limited Elk Unit Nominations

The nomination period has closed.


View 2010-2014 Season Structure General Dates