Last Updated: 10th May 2023
Hear this: hunting in Colorado is probably on the bucket list of every outdoor enthusiast. It has various game animals for hunters to take down in vast expanses of hunting lands.
With that, competitiveness and high hunting pressure are pretty inevitable for state hunters. Despite the crowds, Colorado has many hunting opportunities for those willing to explore and enjoy the challenge.
Ready to learn more? This guide provides a comprehensive overview of everything you need to know when hunting in Colorado, all in one convenient place!
Table of Contents
Colorado Hunting Seasons
Like Wyoming, Colorado offers various hunting seasons to suit every outdoor enthusiast’s taste. The Colorado Parks & Wildlife Department (CPW) is the go-to authority for regulating all hunting seasons to ensure the sustainability of wildlife.
Here is the general rundown of the hunting seasons offered in the state:
Big Game Seasons
|Elk Hunting||Archery: Early to late September|
Rifle: Early October to mid-November
|Black Bear Hunting||Archery: Early to late September|
Rifle: Early September to mid-November
|Deer Hunting||Archery: Early to late September|
Rifle: Early October to mid-November
|Plains Deer Hunting||Archery: Early October to late December|
Muzzleloader: Early to mid-September
Rifle: Early to late October
|Pronghorn Hunting||Archery: Mid-August to late September|
Rifle: Late September to early October
|Moose Hunting||Archery: Mid- to late September|
Rifle: Early October to late October
Other Hunting Seasons
|Wild Turkey Hunting||Spring Season: Early April to mid-May|
Fall Season: Mid-September to late October
|Upland Game Bird Hunting||Blue Grouse: Early September to mid-November|
Chuckar Partridge: Early November to late January
Ptarmigan: Early September to early November
Pheasant: Early November to mid-January
Quail: Early November to early January
|Waterfowl Hunting||Duck: Late September to late January |
Coot and Merganser: Late September to late January
Goose: Late September to mid-February
|Small Game Hunting||Hare: Mid-October to late March|
Rabbit and Squirrel: Mid-October to late February
|Predator Hunting||Beaver: Early October to late April|
Bobcat: Early December to late February
Popular Hunting In Colorado
If you’re looking for an unforgettable hunting experience, elk hunting in Colorado is definitely something you should consider.
With the largest elk population in North America, the state offers countless opportunities to explore the breathtaking wilderness and pursue these majestic animals.
Elk can be found throughout the state, especially in top hunting places like:
- White River National Forest
- Routt National Forest
- Flat Tops Wilderness Area
- San Juan Mountains.
No matter how you like to hunt, with archery, muzzleloader, or rifle, there is a season for every hunter’s preference.
What makes it more fun to hunt is that the state offers both over-the-counter (OTC) and limited licenses for elk hunting. This gives liberty to elk hunters to pursue elk based on their means.
Deer hunting licenses in Colorado are limited and distributed through a lottery system called the Big Game Draw. The application typically lasts for a month and ends in early April.
In Colorado, deer hunting is classified into two main categories: Plains deer hunting and Regular deer hunting. The distinction between the two is based on the deer’s location and habitat.
Plains Deer Hunting
Plains deer hunting in Colorado takes place in the eastern part of the state, where wide-open grasslands and agricultural fields characterize the landscape.
This region is home to both mule deer and white-tailed deer, with white-tailed deer being more prevalent in the eastern plains.
Hunting deer in this environment requires different tactics and strategies, such as spot-and-stalk, still pursuing, or using ground blinds near feeding and bedding areas.
Regular Deer Hunting
Regular deer hunting in Colorado refers to hunting in the rest of the state outside the plains region.
This includes the Rocky Mountains, foothills, and western slope areas, where deer can be found in a wide variety of habitats, such as forests, meadows, and rugged mountain terrain. Mule deer are more common in these areas, although white-tailed deer can also be found in some locations.
Hunting strategies for regular deer hunting might include spot-and-stalk, still hunting, or glassing from high vantage points.
Pronghorn antelope, often called pronghorn, are native to North America and known for their incredible speed and agility.
Colorado offers excellent pronghorn hunting opportunities, particularly in the eastern plains region.
Like deer hunting, the opportunities to hunt pronghorn sheep in Colorado are also limited as the permits are only distributed through a lottery system. But if you’re lucky enough to be selected, tons of thrilling opportunities await you!
Top Colorado Hunting Locations
Colorado is a treasure trove of hunting opportunities, with diverse landscapes and abundant wildlife, making it a top destination for hunters from all over the country.
Here are some of the top hunting locations in Colorado, each offering its unique blend of adventure, challenge, and natural beauty:
White River National Forest
The White River National Forest, spanning 2.3 million acres in northwest Colorado, provides a sanctuary for those seeking to hunt elk.
This vast, pristine wilderness is home to the largest elk herd in North America, making it a prime location for an unforgettable elk hunting experience.
The scenery offers a wide range of diversity, from majestic mountains to thick forests, pristine lakes, to verdant meadows.
There are many secluded areas to discover, including the Flat Tops and Maroon Bells-Snowmass, ensuring an exciting escapade that challenges your abilities and enchants your senses.
Flat Tops Wilderness Area
A true gem within the White River National Forest, this wilderness area covers over 235,000 acres of unspoiled terrain.
This remote location is abundant with elk, mule deer, and black bears, offering hunters an exceptional backcountry experience. The area showcases volcanic flat-topped mountains, pristine meadows teaming with wildlife, and awe-inspiring vistas that extend as far as the eye can perceive.
With over 100 miles of trails to explore, this is the perfect place for hunters seeking solitude and a truly immersive wilderness experience.
Gunnison National Forest
Encompassing nearly 1.7 million acres in west-central Colorado, Gunnison National Forest is a paradise for hunters searching for elk, mule deer, and black bears.
The varied landscape presents an exciting combination of thick forests, elevated alpine meadows, and rough mountain summits. Within the woods lie the West Elk Wilderness and Fossil Ridge Wilderness, providing exceptional hunting opportunities in breathtaking and secluded surroundings.
South Platte River
The South Platte River corridor is a top choice for waterfowl hunters due to its diverse and abundant habitats.
The river’s meandering course and numerous wetlands and sloughs provide ideal nesting and resting grounds for various duck and goose species. Hunters can enjoy the challenge of stalking waterfowl in multiple environments while taking in the stunning riverine scenery.
Pawnee National Grassland
The Pawnee National Grassland is a haven for upland game bird hunters in northeastern Colorado. This 193,000-acre expanse of rolling grasslands and rugged terrain is home to various species, including ring-necked pheasants, greater prairie chickens, and sharp-tailed grouse.
The open landscape and abundant cover provide excellent opportunities for hunters to test their skills while enjoying the beauty of the plains.
To hunt in Colorado, you’ll need a valid hunting license, which can be obtained online, by phone, or at any CPW office.
The state offers a variety of licenses, including resident, nonresident, and youth licenses. Make sure to get the right one for your needs!
|Elk License||Either Sex: $56.88|
Cow Elk: $50.37
|Either Sex: $688.26|
Cow Elk: $516.63
|Black Bear License||$48.61||$101.75||$16.05|
|Bighorn Sheep License||$313.00||$2,254.75||$127.00|
|Mountain Goat License||$313.00||$2,254.75||$127.00|
|Small Game License||$30.11||1-day Hunting: $16.75 |
(+$6.95 per day)
1-year Hunting: $82.78
Safety is of utmost importance when you’re out hunting in the beautiful wilderness of Colorado, and one key aspect of that is hunter-orange regulation.
Wearing hunter orange, also known as “blaze orange” or “fluorescent orange,” helps make you more visible to other hunters, reducing the chances of accidents in the field.
During rifle seasons for deer, elk, pronghorn, bear, and moose in Colorado, hunters must wear at least 500 square inches of solid daylight fluorescent orange material above the waist.
This includes a hat or cap and an outer garment like a jacket or vest. Archery hunters must also follow this rule if they are hunting during overlapping rifle seasons.
Note: Camouflage-patterned orange is not allowed.
Well, fellow adventurer, you’ve just taken a thrilling journey through the world of hunting in Colorado! After learning about popular game species, top hunting locations, and regulations, you’re ready for an unforgettable hunting adventure.
With so many game species to choose from in Colorado, deciding which to hunt can be daunting. However, if you’re looking to hunt sustainable animals, we’ve covered you with a helpful guide.