The application deadline for Colorado's primary big game draw is the first Tuesday in April each year. Applications for all limited big game licenses must be submitted by 8:00 p.m. Mountain Time that day.
Not planning to hunt Colorado this year? Or just planning to purchase an over-the-counter (OTC) elk license? You should still be submitting applications.
1. At Least Apply for Preference Points
Even if you’re not planning to hunt Colorado this year – or if you’re considering an OTC elk option – you should at least be applying for preference points. Just a few points can open up a ton of opportunity in Colorado.
We’re not talking 10 or 20 years of points to draw one of Colorado’s premier units. Anywhere between one and five preference points can get you into some great limited entry hunts that offer a higher quality experience than the OTC options.
To apply for a point, simply enter the preference point code in the FIRST CHOICE box on your big game application for each species. The preference point code for elk is E-P-999-99-P. To find the preference point codes for other species, refer to the Colorado Big Game Brochure and the Sheep and Goat Brochure.
When you apply for a preference point as your first choice, you still have the opportunity to draw a license as a second choice. In this scenario, you could earn a point AND draw a license. To learn more about this, check out this article, where we outline how to apply for a point and a second choice license.
2. Colorado Mule Deer Hunts
The second reason you should be applying in the draw is because that’s the best way to get a mule deer license in Colorado. There will be some licenses available in the secondary draw and as leftovers. But for the best shot at a quality mule deer license, you need to be applying in the primary draw.
Again, if you're not ready to hunt this year, you can simply apply for a preference point. The preference point hunt code for deer is D-P-999-99-P. And just like elk, just a handful of points will open doors to some great hunts.
There are also opportunities to apply for a preference point as your first choice and still draw a license as a second choice – meaning you’ll get a point this year and still go mule deer hunting. Again, for more on that strategy, see the article on that subject.
3. Other Limited License Opportunities
The big game draw in Colorado offers opportunities for elk, deer, pronghorn, bear, moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goat. Some of these are very difficult to draw. But you definitely won’t draw if you don’t apply!
For tips on planning your big game applications, see this article for some helpful ideas.
In Colorado, the limited draw is the best opportunity at quality antlerless hunts for cow elk. For filling the freezer, these hunts are an excellent option. And most are relatively easy to draw.
The annual draw is also your chance at those bucket-list species like moose, sheep and goat. In order to draw these, you need at least 3 preference points to be in the running. Once you’re at that 3-point threshold, your name is in the hat!
Don't miss the application deadline the first Tuesday in April! Even if you just apply for preference points this year, you'll thank yourself down the road.
Contact Us With Questions
If you have questions about equipment or gearing up for your next big game hunt, please get in touch. We’d love to help you find the gear you need and get ready for that next big adventure!
By Ryan McSparran
Ryan is an outdoor writer based in Colorado, and is proud to be a part of the team at Caribou Gear.