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Hunter Information
Hunter Information

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​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: 

  • Elk
  • Deer
  • Pronghorn
  • Turkey
  • Moose
  • 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. 


 2024 Season Dates & License Numbers

 PDFs are updated once license numbers are approved in May.


Hunter Responsibilities

Public hunting on these ranches is a privilege and hunters need to present a favorable impression of sportspeople. 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 Participating Ranches

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 asked 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. ​

​Some ranches may be in GMU's that require mandatory CWD testing for deer or elk. These GMU's change annually so please refer to your Big Game Brochure​ and the CPW CWD page for further information.

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. 

Realistic Expectations

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.

Extra Cow Vouchers (Special Population Management Licenses)

Note: Due to the severe winter of 2022-2023, additional vouchers on RFW ranches in the severe winter zone will not be issued for the next several seasons.

Some ranches in the RFW program currently reside within management areas that are over elk population objective. To help with this situation, those ranches may offer additional cow vouchers to their already licensed elk hunters (to be purchased by the hunter) called "special population management licenses". Biologists have found that simply adding more license, while it does create opportunity for more hunters, does not always increase harvest. Sometimes it adds too many people to the landscape and actually pushes more animals away, ultimately decreasing harvest. These special population management licenses allow for increased harvest without creating crowding issues, which in many cases, is a primary benefit of hunting a RFW license. 

Preference Points

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. 

Big Game applications are due in early April each year. Spring turkey applications are due early Feb. and fall turkey in July, annually. By applying for a RFW license, hunters allow CPW to provide applicant information to the ranch.​

For more information on how to apply, see our Plan Your Hunt page.

Antler-point Restrictions

Antler-point restrictions for elk vary by ranch. Please refer to the Big Game Brochure for more information. 

Program Regulations

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 Operating Guidelines​.