Whether you’re an experienced hunter seeking a new adventure or a complete beginner who is looking to participate in your very first elk hunt, here are five reasons why you should hunt big game in Colorado this fall:
We’ve got elk! With an estimated population of nearly 270,000 animals, Colorado’s elk herd is second to none. And when it comes to seasons and methods of take, elk hunters have some great options. Beginning in late-August and September with archery and muzzleloader hunts and moving to four separate rifle-elk seasons that span October through early November. The first and fourth seasons are by limited drawing and usually require a preference point or two to draw a license. However, licenses for the second and third seasons may be purchased over the counter, offering hunters the chance to pursue bull elk every year.
Wide open spaces. That’s what you’ll find here. With more than 23-million acres of public land, Colorado boasts some of the best hunting access in the nation. To put this into perspective: Colorado’s public-land acreage is equal in size to the entire state of Indiana. Here you can hunt national forests, state wildlife areas, state parks, state trust and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands. Hunting big game in Colorado truly epitomizes the spirit of fair chase in vast expanses of open terrain.
From the majestic elk, bighorn sheep and mountain goat to moose, pronghorn, black bear, white-tailed and mule deer, Colorado’s big-game species are as diverse as the Rocky Mountain landscape. For big-game hunters, no other state offers as much variety. Joseph Von Benedikt of Petersen’s Hunting magazine sums it up best:
“If I had to pick one Western state to hunt, it would probably be Colorado. With the largest population of elk in the U.S., some of the best mule deer hunting, and better antelope (pronghorn) hunting than most people realize, Colorado offers more opportunity in a single year than most states do in several.”
4. License Options
When it comes to big-game hunting, few states offer as many license choices as Colorado. In addition to hosting a drawing every spring where hunters may apply for limited big-game licenses based on a preference-point system, Colorado sells over-the-counter licenses for bear, bull elk and pronghorn. Over-the-counter licenses may be purchased at any retail license agent, Colorado Parks and Wildlife offices and most state parks. Having trouble picking a license? Take advantage of Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Hunt Planners! They will make sure that you select the best licenses and hunting opportunities.
Excitement, adventure, epic scenery—it’s all here. There’s no better place to reconnect with nature and lose (or find) yourself in the great outdoors. From our acclaimed 14ers and secluded alpine wilderness areas to densely wooded forests and infinite skies of the open prairie, Colorado’s backcountry offers something for everyone. Big-game hunting in Colorado is truly about the experience and provides the ultimate escape from the daily grind. Spend one season here and you’ll take home a lifetime of memories.
For more information about planning a big-game hunt, please visit Colorado Parks and Wildife’s “Plan Your Hunt” webpage.
Written by Jerry Neal. Neal is an information specialist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife and is editor of Colorado Outdoors Online.