Big Game Hunting – Leftover License Update

Archer big game hunting in Colorado

Colorado big-game hunter. Photo by © Vic Schendel/CPW.

The official leftover big game limited licenses list for deer, elk, bear and pronghorn is now available on the CPW website. These remaining limited licenses provide hunting access on specific Game Management Units (GMUs) and offer Colorado big-game hunters some great opportunities this big game hunting season. The leftover licenses go on sale Tuesday, August 7 at 9:00 a.m (MDT). NOTE: at 9:00 a.m. licenses will be available for purchase online (, by phone at 1-800-244-5613 , in person at CPW offices and at license retailers (sporting goods stores, hunting and fishing supply stores, etc.).

There are more than 50,000 big game hunting licenses available on the leftover list this year.

  • Bear – more than 4,900 limited licenses available
  • Deer – more than 8,400 limited licenses available
  • Elk – more than 29,100  limited licenses available
  • Pronghorn – more than 7,400 limited licenses available

So it’s important that you do your homework, build a solid strategy and are ready to pull the trigger when sales start on Tuesday morning. Leftover licenses are sold on a first come, first served basis and while there is a wide variety of opportunity, most of the licenses are available in small quantity with extremely high demand! So it is expected that they will be gone in the first minutes after sales begin.

Building a Leftover Day Strategy

Pick MULTIPLE Hunt Codes for Each Species

You may be successful at purchasing your first choice on leftover day. But, a surefire winning strategy is to find several hunt codes for each species that you would like to hunt. With just over a week to go before leftover day, there is plenty of time and information to help you research your options.

  • Use CPW Regional Hunt Guides to get an idea of public land access in the GMUs that you are considering.
  • Use the Colorado Hunting Atlas to do some virtual scouting and find a license that puts you on terrain that suits your hunting needs. The atlas is loaded with useful species-specific information, including migration corridors, winter concentration areas, resident population area, overall range winter range and much more.

Plan Your Leftover Day Purchase Strategy: Online or In-Person

  • Online – CPW’s new online shopping system ( is a great option for shoppers who have limited time and are looking to avoid long lines. To help reduce the bottlenecks in the online system, it’s essential that hunters have their game plan in place. Make sure that you confirm your account is ready to go!
    • Confirm that your login and customer information is up to date, including phone, email and mailing address.
      • Existing customers: log in to to confirm that you can access your account. If you are experiencing issues logging in to your account, please call CPW at 303-297-1192 (M-F, 8am-5pm MT) or Aspira at 800-244-5613 (24/7) for assistance. If you are unsure whether or not you are a customer with an account, please use LOOK UP to see if you have an existing account. CAUTION: Do not create multiple accounts. Purchasing licenses with multiple accounts could potentially invalidate your sale.
      • New customers (you have never used the CPW IPAWS site or purchased a CPW wildlife license, or you do not have a Reserve America account): Please create an account. If you are experiencing issues creating an account, please call CPW at 303-297-1192 (M-F, 8am-5pm MT) or Aspira at 800-244-5613 (24/7) for assistance.
  • In-Person – If you plan to purchase a leftover license in-person, at  CPW office or license retailer, make sure that you contact the location before Tuesday, August 7, 2018, at 9:00 a.m (MDT) and confirm that they will be offering license sales on leftover day. Also, confirm how they determine purchase order. Some CPW offices are first come, first served and others use a lottery system to determine the purchase order. Take the mystery out of the process by contacting the CPW offices or retailers where you plan to purchase and ask them what their leftover day process will be.

Whether you are purchasing online or in-person, you’ll need to have your hunt codes selected before Tuesday, August 7 at 9:00 a.m (MDT). I know I keep repeating date, time, and hunt codes, but they are the key ingredients to a successful strategy! Don’t gamble your hunting season on a single hunt code. Come prepared with a list of hunt codes recorded on a piece of paper so you are ready to go when the process starts.

Leftover Day Online Purchase Guide

2018-Big-Game-Leftover-Guide-Final-1Take the guesswork out leftover day! View the 2018 Big Game Leftover Guide to see exactly what the online process will look like when licenses go on sale Tuesday, August 7 at 9:00 a.m (MDT). The guide provides tips that will help you avoid the common errors that can slow down the process and prevent a successful license purchase.

Guaranteed Big Game Hunting License Options

If you are unsuccessful on leftover day, there are still two great options that will guarantee you’re big game hunting in Colorado this season.

  1. Reissued Licenses – these licenses will start appearing on the leftover list beginning on August 14, 2018 at 9 a.m. and hunt codes will appear on the list Tuesday thru Friday (throughout the season) from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. There is no preview list, so you never know which licenses will appear from week to week. But there are amazing opportunities for hunters with flexible schedules and they will appear throughout the season. Reissued licenses will include hunt codes that took four or fewer preference points to draw and the licenses will appear on the leftover list the week after they are processed. Visit the CPW website to learn more about the reissue process.
  2. Over-the-Counter (OTC) – OTC license sales begin on August 9, 2018 at 9:00 a.m. (MDT). Big game hunting license options include Unlimited OTC licenses for cow and either-sex archery elk, bull elk in the 2nd and 3rd rifle seasons, either-sex elk in the plains, either-sex archery pronghorn, and doe and either-sex whitetail deer licenses. These are great options for hunters that are looking to start planning today. OTC hunts are restricted to certain units and manners of take. Please visit the CPW website for more information about OTC season dates and big game hunting opportunities.

On Tuesday, August 7, 2018 at 9:00 a.m (MDT), an enormous number of license purchases will occur in the first minutes after sales open. And just like being in the field, the big game hunters that have done their homework and are prepared for the day are the ones that have the greatest chance for success!

Additional resources:

Big Game Brochure


  • If I have an ot c bull tag can I try for a cow tag in the leftover license ?

    • If you have a list “A” OTC tag, you have the option to purchase a list “B” or “C” license on leftover day. For more information, please see page 33 of the 2018 Colorado Big Game Brochure.

  • It would be really handy to know what the heck “float” means in the leftover list. Nowhere is there an explanation of this term. The place I would expect to see an explanation is at the bottom of the list. I assume that one needs to float in order to qualify for a tag in these areas and unfortunately I sink like a rock and don’t float at all. Too bad for me.

    • “FLOAT” means the hunt code share quota across a group of hunt codes. To find the number of tags available for a “FLOAT” group, just look above “FLOAT” for a similar hunt code with quota listed. Here’s an example from the current leftover list – DE034P3R is listed as “FLOAT” the quota for the “FLOAT” group is listed with DE034P2R and is a total of 31 tags.

  • Do you lose preference points when purchasing a leftover tag?

  • For example: if I want to try for certain antelope tag and a certain deer tag, should I try to put them both in my cart; or just try hard for the one I want the most and then go back and try for the second one? When do I ever have it LOCKED up? In my cart? Or on final sale ergo best to just try for one. Your thoughts?

    • Many of the leftover licenses are VERY limited in quantity. If you have a priority species, you should focus on that species first. The license is not “locked up” until you’ve completed the purchase, so the quicker you can get through the purchase process the better your chances.

  • Does anyone know if I drew an OTC archery tag, can I exchange for another archery tag in a closer unit?

    • License refund and exchange information can be found here –

      Exchange Fee
      ALL license exchanges will be charged 50% of the cost of the original license, not to exceed $25.00.

      • Thank you for the info, but I have already read this info and it doesn’t tell me what I need to know. Do I have to turn in the tag I drew first? Can I do it all online? Can I purchase the leftover tag and then return the one I drew, etc.?

      • If you are looking to exchange a list “A” license and purchase a list “A” license from the leftover list (tomorrow), you will need to do that at a CPW office. You can call a CPW Hunt Planner and discuss the specifics of your situation – (303) 291-PLAN (7526).

  • What is the fastest way to ty and get a license, onilne, in person, or on the phone?

  • My son’s and my 2nd choice for elk was EE028O1R, third choice for elk was EF028O1R and 4th choice for elk was EE028O1M. First choice was preference points. None were awarded. However I see that all three are available on the leftover list. Why were we not awarded an elk license?

  • My dad and I want to hunt as a group. Can I apply for a leftover license for him and for myself during online leftover Aug. 7 purchase?

  • Nice job talking up online sales. I tried for over 40 minutes and it kept timing out. Way to go CPW!!!

    • After 30 minutes of trying online, I went to the actual CPW office. I should have known better and just went there right away in the morning. The best was the CPW officer helping people with filling out the hunt codes and giving out the numbers in line mentioned, “well, you know the odds of getting one anyway is very low.” That may be true, but somebody has to get them. I had the tag I wanted in my online cart and once I clicked Go To Cart it sat there and spun for 25 minutes. Didn’t end up getting it. Hopefully they can try and fix the online issues for next year.

      • I faced the same issues online this morning. Tried to access the system within seconds of 9am. System appeared to get overloaded and crashed. Couldn’t access for another 45mins or so. Online sales were a disaster and system couldn’t keep up. I agree with previous poster and hope they make changes /upgrades to system for next year.

  • With all due respect can you make this anymore confusing…. I’m a newbie and hunted in several western states after moving here I thought it would be easier to at least get a license. Wow technology is definitely created more confusion than it has helped… Sorry so negative but I feel like I need a class just to apply for one of these licenses….

  • Pingback: Colo. leftover hunting licenses on sale Tuesday – Jason Heart's Blog

  • i’m a newbie here…and don’t understand the letter R or M at end of the code and also wondering what the list A and B mean when looking at the leftover list for elk

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