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Qualifying Licenses
Qualifying Licenses

Flow Chart

See the "Steps on How to Apply" Flow Chart for an easier-to-understand option.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Big Game Hunting Qualifying Licenses

All applicants, including youth ages 12-17, must purchase a qualifying license prior to applying for the big game primary draw or secondary draw. ​

Who must buy a qualifying license?

  • Anyone who wishes to apply for the big game primary draw (including youth hunters).
  • Anyone who wishes to apply for the big game secondary draw (including youth hunters).
  • Applicants must purchase a qualifying license even if applying for a preference point as a first choice option.

When did CPW start requiring qualifying licenses?

The Colorado P​arks and Wildlife Commission added a qualifying license requirement for applying for the big game draw in November, 2018. It is similar to other western states who require customers to purchase a base hunting license prior to applying for a draw. In addition to the qualifying license revenue, Colorado will receive additional federal match funds. The use of these funds will help CPW meet their ten priority goals for wildlife management.

Do I need to buy a qualifying license if I only plan on buying a leftover or over-the-counter license?

No. A qualifying license is not needed to purchase a leftover limited license or over-the-counter big game license (both go on sale in August).​

Which licenses count as qualifying licenses?

Resident and Nonresident

Resident Only

**the previous licenses are valid March 1, 2024 - March 31, 2025**

Does my fishing license count a
s a qualifying license?

No, fishing licenses do not count as qualifying licenses, but residents can purchase a qualifying combination small game/fishing license (or other qualifying license). Nonresidents have the option of purchasing a qualifying spring turkey or small game license. All nonresident big game licenses include an annual fishing license.

I am using my small game license as my qualifying license. Do I still need a HIP number?

If you will not hunt small game (i.e., you will only hunt deer, elk, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, moose, bear, lion, or turkey), you should not register with HIP.​

Hunters planning to use their small game license to hunt or trap (not just as a qualifying license for the big game draw) will need to obtain their HIP number through the Colorado HIP website​ or by calling and speaking with a live operator, 24 hours a day, at 1-866-COLOHIP (265-6447) before they can legally hunt. Although 2024 small-game licenses go on sale March 1, HIP numbers for 2024 will not be available until April 1.

When should I buy a qualifying license? When are they available?

  • All qualifying licenses can be purchased starting March 1.

  • Qualifying license purchases must be completed prior to applying for the big game draw. A qualifying license purchase and application for the big game draw can be completed in the same transaction but the qualifying license must be added to the cart first.​​

  • Residents applying for the resident veteran lifetime combo or resident first responder lifetime combo may submit their application form and qualifying information at any time; please allow 14 business days for processing. Applications received after end of day om March 26, 2024​, cannot be guaranteed to be processed by the Big Game Application deadline.​​​

Is my qualifying license good for more than one year?

Qualifying licenses (other than veteran and first responder lifetime combos) must be valid for the current license year.

Example: If you are applying for the 2024 draw, your qualifying license must be valid for the 2024 license year: March 1, 2024 - March 31, 2025. 2023 licenses valid April 1, 2023 – March 31, 2024 are not qualifying licenses for the 2023 draw(s).​

Can I get a refund for my qualifying license?

​No refunds. Annual licenses, including qualifying licenses, are non-refundable.