All About Hunting In Colorado

Colorado is a haven for avid outdoor enthusiasts with its diverse set of unspoiled landscapes and varied wildlife. From waterfowl to larger game such as Elk, deer, bear and mountain lions, there is something for everyone to hunt here.

Hunting in Colorado often feels boundless with public lands that include 23 million acres of pristine pines, plentiful pocket meadows and pure water ponds, so it’s no wonder Colorado hosts the world’s largest Elk herd and the best chance at hunting or simply viewing these majestic animals in motion.

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1. What Species To Hunt In Colorado

1.1 Bighorn Sheep

It is the mammalian symbol of the Colorado Division of Wildlife and is Colorado’s official mammal. Colorado is home to the largest population of the species anywhere.

The animals are five to six feet long with a tail three to six inches in length. Rams weigh 150 to 250 pounds, ewes 120 to 200. Makes are about three feet high at the shoulder, ewes are slightly less.

Color is usually grayish brown, with a paper belly and a white rump patch. The massive, coiled horns of mature rams may make up to 10% of the body weight. Ewes have spike like horns.

1.2 Bobcat

The bobcat a familiar animal but it is secretive and seldom seen. The animals are 32 – 37 inches long with a tail about 6 inches in length. Bobcats are similar in appearance to their cousin. the lynx.

Indeed, they are especially difficult to distinguish in the Southern Rockies, where the local bobcat is large and pale in color (several points of contrast are provided in the profile of the lynx)

1.3 Elk

Rocky mountain elk are large mammals in the deer family that live in Colorado’s forests. In addition to draw tourists, the state’s elk population also attracts hunters from around the globe.

Colorado’s big attraction for elk hunters is its huge amount of public land. Headlining the public land line up are those areas managed by the U.S. Forest Service.

There are 11 national forests in the state and 8.4 million acres of Bureau of Land Management property.

How To Hunt Colorado (For Elk, Deer and Antelope)

1.4 Mountain Goat

Contrary to their name, mountain goats are actually not true goats. In fact, mountain goats are more closely related to some African antelope species that they are to domestic goats.

Mountain goats are in fact not native to Colorado. They were brought here from the Northern Rockies as game animals in the 1940s – 1970s, but they have survived and thrived in Colorado.

1.5 Mountain Lion

Mountain lions are called by many names : puma, cougar, panther, mountain cat, catamount or just lion. It has a large range extending from the Canadian Yukon to the southern Andes of South America.

The mountain lion is the second largest cat in North America after the Jaguar and the largest in Colorado. In Colorado, population estimate ranges from 3000 to 7000 mountain lions.

1.6 Mule Deer

Northwest Colorado is famous for its large herd of mule deer. All of our mule deer hunting is fair chase. Colorado ranches are managed to provide you with superb hunting opportunities.

In addition to Colorado’s excellent resident mule deer herd hunting, pressurize nearby public lands causes more deer to migrate onto private land that western outdoor adventures lease.

1.7 Pronghorn Deer

Northwest Colorado is famous for its large herd of pronghorn antelope. Colorado consistently produces record class animals and is one of the most sought after antelope hunting areas in the West.

The very limited number of license available increases your chances of taking an exceptional pronghorn antelope.

1.8 Siras Moose

In 1978, a dozen siras moose were transplanted from Utah to Colorado, which established Colorado’s first significant population. Now moose numbers estimated to be over 3000.

Siras moose are Colorado’s largest big game animal with adults weighing 800 to 1200 pounds. Bulls stand up to six feet at the shoulder.

1.9 Wild Turkey

Colorado is home to two subspecies of wild turkeys. Native Merriam turkeys are mostly found in open meadows of the mountains.

The wild turkey is beloved among hunters and wildlife enthusiasts alike. The wild turkey’s springtime mating displays are one of the most exciting and stunning events in nature.

Colorado parks and wildlife estimates the state is home to around 35000 turkeys and the population is thriving so much that there is a hunting season.

1.10 Moose

Moose are the largest member of the deer family with individuals reaching weights between 800 and 900 pounds. Moose were almost non – existent in Colorado until they are introduced in the late 1970s.

Moose are a large and easily observed species. Under many circumstances the flight response of moose is less than that of other wild and free ranging animals.

When coupled with the unique and large antler characteristics of bulls, moose are often recognized for their value as a watchable wildlife species.


2. Seasons

The goal of setting hunting season dates is to manage animal populations. If the population is too large, regulators will time it to give hunters a greater advantage in the harvest.

If the population is shrinking, they will set the dates to give the animals a greater survival advantage. That’s the simplest way of looking at it.

The big game hunting season in Colorado ranges from August to January.

What’s New: 2020 Colorado Big-Game Hunting

3. Where Can You Hunt

3.1 Hunting On Public Conservation Land

To hunt on public conservation land you must get a hunting permit from DOC. You can apply online for a permit or apply at a DOC office which is near the hunting area.

There are 3 types of hunting areas on public conservation land:

  • Open hunting areas operate under the standard hunting permit conditions. Some open hunting areas may also have special conditions.
  • Restricted hunting areas have conditions specific to the area. Contact the DOC office closest to where you want to hunt.
  • Recreational hunting areas do not allow commercial wild animal recovery as long as recreational hunters keep animal numbers low. You still need a permit for the area you want to hunt in.
Hunting Colorado’s Public Lands

3.2 Hunting On Private Property

To hunt on private property, you must also get the permission of the landowner. Many properties are set up as ‘ safari parks ‘ where game animals can be hunted for free.

Episode 5: Where to Hunt?

4. License Requirement

Depending on your age, you may require to have the Hunter Education Certificate in order to legally buy a license or permit to hunt.

A. Complete a Colorado hunter education certification requirements.

B. Choose the correct license type.

C. Buy the license through the Colorado Park and Wildlife website or a Colorado approved retailer.

Hunting, Fishing License Required To Visit Colorado Wildlife Areas

4.1 Types Of Colorado Hunting License

4.1.1 Colorado Resident

All Colorado residents must have a resident hunting license. Additional license and permits may be required. Residents ages 18 to  64 must purchase the Habitat Stamp in order to buy or apply for a hunting license. Only one stamp is needed for the license year.

4.1.2 Non – Resident

All non – residents must have a non – resident hunting license. Additional license and permits may be required. Non – residents ages 18 to 64 must purchase the Habitat Stamp in order to buy or apply for a hunting license. Only one stamp is needed for the license year.

4.1.3 Youth Hunting License

Colorado residents and non – residents under the age of 18 may purchase a youth big game license.

4.1.4 Senior Hunting License

Colorado does not offer a hunting license specifically for senior citizens.

4.1.5 Disability License

Colorado residents with mobility impairments may apply for the Mobility Impaired Hunting License.

4.1.6 Military and Veteran License

Active duty military members who are permanently stationed in Colorado may purchase a resident hunting license. Resident veterans with 60% or more service connected disability may be eligible for the lifetime fishing and small game combo license.

5. Hunters Education

Residents and non – residents born on or after January 1,1961 must successfully complete a hunter education course prior to purchasing a season hunting license.

However, a hunter education course us not required to purchase an Apprentice License or a license identified as a “Short Term” license. Hunter education courses certified or mandated by any state wildlife agency or Canadian province are accepted.

Hunter education is not required to hunt on your own land or land of a parent or guardian.

5.1 Age Requirements

5.1.1 Hunters under age 12

Hunters under age 12 are not required to complete a hunter education course. However, no one under age 12 can hunt unless under direct supervision, i.e. within sight or hearing of licensed adult (at least 18 years old) hunter.

It is unlawful for an adult to permit their child or ward under age 12 to hunt unsupervised

5.1.2 Hunters age 12 – 15

Must complete a hunter education course prior to hunting unless under direct supervision of various licensed adult hunter. It is unlawful for an adult to permit their child or ward (12 – 15) to hunt without adult supervision unless the child possesses a hunter education certificate while hunting.

5.1.3 Hunters age 16 – 25

Must present a hunter education certificate when purchasing a season hunting license and must possess the certificate while hunting.

5.1.4 Hunters over age 25

Hunters over age 25 and born after January 1, 1961 must meet hunter education course requirements but need not present their hunter education certificate when buying a season hunting license or possess it while hunting.

6. Rules And Regulations

  • You must not hunt during the hours of darkness, 30 minutes after the sunset to 30 minutes before the sunrise.
  • You must not use spotlights to hunt in the hours of darkness
  • You must respect other users of the back country. Do not discharge firearms near tracks, huts, campsites, road ends or any other public place.
  • When you get into camp, remove and store your firearms bolt and ammunition separately to your firearm.

6. Prohibited Practices

6.1 Hunting With Artificial Light

It is illegal to use sights or any other sights that project a beam of light for hunting. You may not use a spotlight, headlight or other artificial light to hunt an animal with a bow on a highway, in a field or in a forest.

6.2 Other Prohibited Hunting Methods

It is illegal to carry a handgun or rifle while bow hunting deer. EXCEPTION : A hunter may carry a handgun while hunting with bow tag if he or she has an unfilled transportation tag for a season that allows handguns. It is illegal to use any of the following to bow hunt deer or turkeys : aircraft, automobiles, any mechanical device, dogs, domestic animals.

6.3 Trespassing Regulations

It is illegal to trespass on another person’s property. You must have permission from the landowner or leaseholder before entering or hunting on his or her land, even if the land is not posted or fenced. A railroad right – of – way is considered private property.

6.4 Party Hunting

Party hunting is not allowed for bow season hunters. You must shoot and tag your own deer. You may not shoot deer for other members of your party.

6.5 Blinds And Tree Stands On Public Lands

It is illegal to use nails, spikes, pins or any other object on any tree in a game management area to construct a blind or to gain access to a blind or tree stand.

You may not construct a blind in a game management area with sawed lumber, wire, nails, bolts, posts, pipe, metal cable or hardware of any type.

To construct a blind, you may use only the natural vegetation found on the area. No trees or parts of trees other than willows may be cut for constructing a blind.


The ongoing trend to provide programs that encourage new hunters and kids to hunt by offering reduced license costs and free seminar to learn skills continues in the industry.

While some wildlife enthusiasts continue to question the ethics of the sport, the industry is one of the main contributors to wildlife conservation efforts.

Through hunting license and taxes, the industry contributes more than $1 billion every year to wildlife conservation, says the National Shooting Sports Foundation.


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