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Big Game License Options
Big Game License Options
​​​​​​​Colorado offers several types of big game licenses and ways to purchase them. All hunters can select hunts from archery, muzzleloader and rifle seasons by species and by GMUs (Game Management Units). Our state has 9 big game species.

There are four main types of big game licenses:

  1. Qualifying Licenses (available for purchase March 1)
  2. Limited licenses (available through an application & draw processes in March and June) 
  3. Leftover Limited Licenses (available in early August)
  4. Over-the-counter licenses (available in early August)

To ensure you have a license to hunt this fall, review the options below.

Before You Buy or Apply: Required Information

  • Proof of Residency: Colorado residency is required to purchase any resident license. If you were issued a Colorado driver's license or renewed your Colorado driver's license within the last 6 months, you will need to provide proof of residency. See Colorado Resident Status for more information. 

  • Photo Identification: See Identification Needed for License Purchases.

  • Hunter Education: Were you born on or after January 1, 1949? If so, you must have a valid hunter education card/certificate before you apply for or purchase a hunting license. You'll also need a hunter education card before applying for a preference point. ​

    Your hunter education card/certificate and the appropriate license(s) must be in your possession while hunting. See 
    Hunter Education for test out options, apprentice license opportunities and more information.

  • Qualifying license (see below)

  • Social Security Number: A valid Social Security Number (SSN) is required for anyone 12 or older to apply for or purchase all CPW licenses (as required by the Colorado Child Support Enforcement Act, established by HB 97-1205 and implemented through 24-33-110 C.R.S.)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.

Qualifying Licenses​​​

Available starting March 1

For sale online, by phone (1-800-244-5613) and at sales agents around the state.

Prior to applying in the big game draw(s), all applicants will first need to purchase a qualifying hunting license. Online draw applications will not be accessible until you purchase your qualifying license. 

Limited Licenses

Application periods and draws open to all hunters.

  • Primary draw application period: March 1 - April 2, 2024 at 8 pm MT
  • Secondary draw application period: June 20 - June 28, 2024 at 8 pm MT

Available online and by phone (1-800-244-5613).   

Limited licenses are a set (limited) number of licenses available for specific hunting units and dates for each species, and are issued through an application and drawing process: March (primary draw) and June (secondary draw). A qualifying license is required prior to applying for limited licenses.

Limited licenses include public-land, private-land-only, Ranching for Wildlife (RFW), season choice and leftover limited licenses. 

Hunters can submit one application per species to participate in the draw. Applications can include up to four hunt choices to maximize your opportunity to draw a license and hunt.​

Apply early to avoid any last-minute online rush!

Preference Point Only Option 

This is available on the primary draw application only.

Preference points increase your chances of drawing a limited license. CPW awards preference points by species. When you don’t draw your first hunt choice, you automatically earn a preference point, except with desert bighorn sheep. Points cannot be used in the same year they are earned.

If you can’t hunt this year, but intend to in the future, apply for a preference point by entering the “preference point only” hunt code in the “first choice hunt code” on the application. See pages 3 and 9 in the Big Game Brochure for details.

Leftover Limited Licenses

Available Tuesday, August 6, 2024 at 9 am MT

For sale online, by phone (1-800-244-5613) and at sales agents around the state.

These are the limited licenses remaining after the primary and secondary draws. If you purchase one of these licenses, you will not use any of your preference points. 

Over-the-Counter (OTC) Licenses

Available Tuesday, August 6, 2024​ at 9 am MT

For sale online, by phone (1-800-244-5613) and at sales agents around the state.

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.

Some licenses for elk, pronghorn, and bear are available without needing to enter the draw(s) and are not restricted in quantity (unlimited). Find more information on over-the-counter licenses in the Big Game brochure.