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

Big Game Season Structure

At the September 2014 Parks and Wildlife Commission meeting, the Commission approved the Big Game Season Structure for 2015-2019. CPW extends an enormous thank you to all the public who shared their input on how we could improve our season structure. We heard from thousands of individuals through our Big Game Attitude Survey, telephone town halls, focus groups, public meetings and public comments submitted online. We heard from both residents and nonresident hunters, from hunting and conservation organizations and from thousands of interested citizens. CPW staff carefully considered everything we heard and used this feedback to inform recommendations to the Parks and Wildlife Commission.

View the 2015-2019 Big Game Season Structure, including season dates.

Summary of changes starting in 2015

Youth Hunting

In order to provide more opportunities to young hunters in Colorado, a minimum of 15 percent of limited licenses for doe pronghorn, antlerless and either-sex deer, and antlerless elk in all seasons and manners of take, except public Ranching for Wildlife and Air Force Academy seasons, will be available for youth hunters ages 12-17. In addition, youth hunters with unfilled limited antlerless or either-sex elk or deer licenses will be permitted to hunt any open antlerless rifle season for that species within the same units after their original licensed season has closed.  Youth hunters are required to convert an unfilled either-sex elk or deer license to an antlerless license for the appropriate species prior to hunting in any antlerless season following the closure of their original licensed season.

Deer, Elk, Moose & Pronghorn

The Big Game Season Structure for 2015-2019 will remain unchanged for deer, elk and moose.  This is also true for pronghorn except for muzzleloader season, which will open on September 21 (the day following closure of the archery pronghorn season) and run for 9 days. Public input demonstrated that most hunters are satisfied with the current season structure for these species and as a result, CPW kept most seasons the same. We also heard comments concerning the overlap among methods of take, especially for pronghorn, which CPW addressed through the change in the timing of pronghorn muzzleloader season.

Mountain Lions & Black Bears

April and regular mountain lion seasons will remain unchanged. However, CPW will initiate a process to establish a new fall mountain lion season in the future for hunters with a valid elk/deer license that will be valid during open rifle elk or deer seasons (hunting with hounds not permitted).  For black bears, an over the counter archery season will open on September 2 and close on September 30 with no season participation restrictions. Another change for black bears is that there will be two regular rifle limited bear seasons with the first opening on September 2 and closing on September 30 and the second opening with 1st rifle elk and ending with the close of the 4th rifle deer/elk season. These licenses will only be valid during open rifle deer/elk seasons and hunters must have a valid deer/elk license overlapping at least one of their bear unit(s) if hunting west of I-25 or in GMU 140. These changes were made in response to public interest in providing more hunting opportunity for these species while factoring in other management considerations.

Preference Points

No changes are being made to the preference point system. This system establishes a wait list or draw priority for Colorado's limited licenses to hunt deer, elk, pronghorn and bear. Hunters with more preference points have a greater chance of drawing their preferred hunt. CPW received a large amount of very diverse public comments in regards to the preference points system.  The basic problem is that   the "list" is growing longer with more hunters holding more points.  The consequence is that some of the highest demand hunts feel out of reach, even for hunters who have been waiting in line and collecting preference points for a long time.

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, 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.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife considered these comments with great care and looked at numerous options for making changes to the system. CPW strives to balance predictability for hunters waiting to draw with access to our hunts and ability to be able to hunt every year with offering preference to hunters who consistently participate in the draw. The current system takes all of these into account and any change to the system would have a negative impact on one of these factors. As a result, CPW recommended no change to the system which was approved by the Parks and Wildlife Commission. 

Summary of Public Input Received

The public input received reflected a high degree of satisfaction with the current Big Game Season Structure, especially with the timing and structure of 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 communicated a strong interest in increasing opportunities for youth to access licenses and to participate in big game hunts. As mentioned above, CPW received a number of written comments raising concerns with the preference point system. In addition, CPW heard from hunters that they would like more opportunity to hunt black bears and mountain lions. For details on the public involvement process and on the public input received in regards to the Big Game Season Structure, please see our Summary Report of Public Involvement.

The process to revise the season structure for the next five years is now complete. If you would like to stay involved in big game issues, please follow us on social media.  Another way to receive information is to sign up for the CPW eNews and select the categories that are most interesting to you.

Again, enormous thanks to all of you who took time to submit written comments, attend a public meeting, participate in a telephone town hall and/or focus group to help inform the Big Game Season Structure for 2015-2019. We greatly appreciate your time and your input.


View 2010-2014 Season Structure General Dates