Secrets to the 2020 Colorado Big Game Hunting Draw

Follow along as Bryan Posthumus, CPW's Northeast Region Hunting Coordinator, walks you through the basics of planning your big game hunt.

A successful big game hunt starts with knowing how Colorado’s big game licenses work. Follow along as Bryan Posthumus, Colorado Parks and Wildlife Northeast Region Hunting and Angling Outreach Coordinator, walks you through the basics on game management units (GMUs), hunt codes, resources to help you pick the right license, and tips on applying for deer, elk, and pronghorn licenses.

Related resources:

Please share any questions or advice in the comments below. Thanks and good luck!

22 Responses

  1. I got to spend a week in unit 067 last fall. There were 8 in our group (6 cow @3 bear)was able to bag 1 cow. good part was with my son and 2 grandsons as much fun. now think of what that cost us. all had your stupid small game ripoff plus regular licenses. Needless to say, we will not be back. You have priced us out of staters from what used to be a great time. Qualifying license should be illegal! Thanks for the memories – Richard j Black Minn. DNR (ret)

    1. Over-the-counter and leftover elk licenses do not require purchasing a qualifying license. For more info, please see –

      From CPW website: The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission added a qualifying license requirement for applying for the big game draw in November, 2018. It is similar to other western states who require customers to purchase a base hunting license prior to applying for a draw. In addition to the qualifying license revenue, Colorado will receive additional federal match funds. The use of these funds will help CPW meet their ten priority goals for wildlife management.

  2. Great Job Richard, I as well, feel the same, I was in area 33 this past year with a few other hunters and we have been coming out their for the last 30 years. I come from Mass. and have no interest traveling all the way across the country to hunt SMALL GAME yet forced to buy a license. We come to bow hunt Elk. I bow hunt an area that you draw a permit every other year because of the amount of hunters. So to get a preferance point you must buy a small game license at $82.78. just to apply. So I have to purchase a license that I have no chance of using because I’m not going to draw a tag. REALLY COLORADO? If you don’t want out of state hunting there then just stop selling to out of staters. I’m sure that the person running this was never a hunter. You should be ashamed of yourself. They were good memories.

    1. Over-The-Counter archery tags could be a great option for you. You can hunt every year and a qualifying license is not required. See pages 37 and 38 of the Colorado Big Game brochure.

  3. Like many other hunters who use to enjoy the Colorado Elk Hunts know has gone to the rich mans sport. We Non-residents pay 10 times what locals do, I can not afford this hunt for food. I started with a $250.00 cow tag. And last year I paid $500.00 cow tag with small game.What I see is less hunters and a high influx of CWD by not thinning the heard. I know my hunting group of 10 will not return. Its to bad.

  4. Do you need a qualifying license just to purchase a preference point? Some areas take several years to build up preference points so would cost a lot if this is required.

  5. The website cut me off before I could finish and post my reply. I agree with the others who say the “qualifying licenses” are ridiculous and a rip-off. I have hunted as a Colorado resident for 40 of the 43 years I’ve lived here and seen the quality of hunting and the quantity of elk and deer slowly dwindle to nothing in GMU 55. No big game but lots of wolf tracks and eaten-out carcasses First Rifle season last year. No bugling in the late summer as we used to hear from our cabin, now, only howling and yipping at night from the wolves and the coyotes. No bucks and bulls in velvet as we used to see when we hiked our property adjacent to the Fossil Ridge Wilderness Area – only wolf tracks and elk/deer-filled feces all over the place. We won’t be hunting Unit 55 anymore – the big game has moved out and the predators have moved in. We now have to hike without our dogs and have to carry sidearms to protect ourselves. What a shame!

  6. My husband met his hunting partners while hunting in GMU22 31 years ago. They came from different states and areas. It has been something they have saved for and looked forward to every year. Since I retired, I have joined them. The hunt camp has been a real joy. HOWEVER, our hunting CMU has been restricted with the private guide groups blocking entrance to public areas. Why Colorado would allow that is beyond me. Strike one. The price for an out-of-state tag has become so expensive that we hate paying it, and now there are charges for licenses we cannot and would never use. Strike two. Because of the decisions made by Colorado, the hunt success percentage is so small that the cost vs meat is ridiculous. Strike three. We are applying for one more hunt and then we will be leaving the state. You have effectively run us out of the enjoyment of meeting up with old friends and hunting in your state.

  7. I feel the same way as most comments we have elk hunted in colorado bow and muzzleloader for 16 years not coming back!!!!!

  8. Wow, I Just Read The Out Of State People That Will Be Giving Up Hunting In Colorado This Year. They Are Right This Is Getting To Be A Rich Man’s Game.I Undestand Where They Are Coming From. To Bad Colorado You Should Make Some Changes. A Colorado Hunter.

  9. Every State requires out of State hunters pay a premium to hunt game. Ohio, Mass., Arkansas, NY,etc. Most states in the East don’t have much public land. Colorado has the public land and variety of wildlife. Complaintants who demand cheep hunting should consider hunting in your discounted State for elk and mule deer.

  10. Have hunted Colorado for 40 years in the last 45. I agree with the comments here about the costs. The qualifying license is a joke. Now CWD is rampant in unit 3. And now we have to pay to test in that unit. So sad that this might be my last year too.

  11. Dave says I started hunting Colorado in 1973 and as I remember the elk tag was 65.00. our party of 8-10 were always excided for the next year to roll around but as all hunters know demand for good hunting states always come at a price. the price in Colorado has pushed thousands of out of state sportsman out of their state. I myself hunted the state for 43 years until the wildlife commission felt it necessary to impose a license that I will never use, the commission tried a plan like this several years ago it was a flop time will tell if they see the light in time. as for me and my hunting group Colorado is a non option

  12. My last hunt in Colorado was unfortunate, it was so crowded that it seemed that tag sales were oriented to maximize revenue. All the quality hunting states are in the position of rationing access. I get it. But requiring us to buy a small game license in order to get a preference point is just about the dollars. Given the reality of point creep for the most desirable hunts the cost is just too high.

    I want to hunt somewhere every year. Preference points are a way to manage my opportunities. Making the application on the lowest # in the group just means my partners wont apply with me. If I just apply then I’m confronted with maybe I get nothing, maybe I get 3 tags in different states. This just doesn’t work and Colorado is out of my rotation

  13. I have gone from Willie in 1952 to great grand dad in 2020

    So for the last 68 years I along with my family have hunted this state. With my extended family of 27 we have hunted for meat and get to gather as a family with 2 to 12 hunters each year .We have seen it go from foot to horse to truck to quads to suvs and $250,000 motor homes, on marked trails for foot,horse and horse and
    wagon, beat out then washed out by the people using them reguardless of the condition of the ground.
    Our Hunts have gone from rifle to muzzle loader to bow ,now to trailcam and camera this year.
    We yield to the prices,sportsmen,off road racers,spoiled kids and colorado’s outdoors management.
    Last year’s expense and rule changes will go for a side of beef this year.

    My stories to great grand kids will start “A long time ago…” not with “DO you want go with me…”

  14. I have hunted Colorado big game for 3 years as a non-resident and for 44 years as a resident. I understand that the costs of doing business have and will likely continue to increase however, the recent licensing requirements and cost increases far exceed both reasonableness and the quality of hunting that remains. I live in unit 67 and know it well. I have not seen an elk in 6 years in this unit and a party of 8 friends from OH and PA have hunted it every year and have seen but one cow and one calf in 4 years. Public lands are being over used and abused year-round and private lands are fundamentally off-limits for the average hunter. This is not what any of us are looking for. Thank you for the great memories but it’s time to find something else to do!

  15. I read lots of complaining – Happy to see some of the large numbers of people drop out. I walk in and walk out, God willing always will. No other state offers the opportunities Colorado does, with a large herd of elk, healthy Muleys, bear add ons , etc., – numerous Eastern states have resident elk now; You can always stay East and hunt Tennessee or Kentucky
    Mr. Posthumous, fantastic video! Proud to have you serving in CPW and hunting by the same reg’s I do.
    Thank you and thanks CPW for taking the time to make the video, even in light of COVID19 challenges

  16. We need Hunters to contact our Governor, Senators, and Congress , about the unnecessary cost that Hunters have had to Pay over the last 2-3 years . Over 70 years old have Hunted over 50 years and the cost is RIDICULOUS. Dave

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