Colorado’s Ten Big-Game Species

From the bighorn sheep to the mountain lion, Colorado offers some of the best and most diverse hunting opportunities anywhere in the nation.

In Colorado, hunters fund wildlife management and conservation programs with their license purchases. To learn more, please read Hunters and Anglers Helping to Fund Colorado’s Wildlife Conservation.

With its wide-open spaces and scenic landscapes, Colorado is famous for its natural attractions and limitless outdoor recreation. And when it comes to hunting, Colorado offers some of the best and most diverse opportunities anywhere in the country. Here, you can pursue 10 different big-game species across millions of acres of public land.

1. Elk

Bull Elk

By far, Colorado is best known for its world-class elk hunting. With an estimated population of 280,000 animals, Colorado is home to the largest elk herds in the world. Each fall, hunters from near and far come to pursue elk in Colorado’s backcountry.

2. Moose

moose crossing lake

Colorado is also home to one of the fastest-growing moose populations in the lower 48 states. Originally transplanted into northern Colorado in the late 1970s, moose continue to expand their range and pioneer new habitats, creating increased opportunities for big-game hunters.

3 & 4. Mule Deer and White-tailed Deer

Mule Deer Buck
Mule Deer

For deer hunters, Colorado is home to both mule and white-tailed deer. Mule deer are widely dispersed across the state. Whitetails are primarily found on Colorado’s Eastern Plains and in small populations on the Western Slope.

5. Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep

Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep

Colorado’s state animal, the Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, is a prominent figure in much of the steep and jagged terrain across the state. With an estimated population of nearly 7,000 animals, Colorado offers some of the best bighorn hunting anywhere in the world.

6. Desert Bighorn Sheep

Desert Bighorn Sheep
Desert Bighorn Sheep

Hunting for the less common Desert bighorn sheep is also available in a limited area of western Colorado, offering a once-in-a-lifetime hunt.

7. Mountain Goat

Shedding mountain goat
Mountain goat

Mountain goats thrive along the steep, windswept ledges of Colorado’s alpine tundra. These agile animals spend most of the year at elevations of more than 12,000 feet, offering a unique and challenging hunt among the highest peaks of Colorado’s mountains.

8. Pronghorn

Pronghorn buck

Heading from the peaks to the prairie, you’ll find pronghorn. Colorado is home to nearly 90,000 pronghorn statewide — the largest population in the state’s history. Pronghorn are found primarily in the flatlands of northwest Colorado and on the Eastern Plains. Small herds are also found in North Park, Middle Park, South Park and the San Luis Valley.

9 & 10. Mountain Lion and Black Bear

Black Bear

If all these were not enough reasons to hunt Colorado, the Centennial State also offers hunting opportunities for the elusive mountain lion and the black bear. Colorado supports abundant populations of both animals throughout the state. 

Mountain lion in Teller County
Mountain lion. Photo by Adam Pisoni.

If you’re searching for your next hunting adventure, look no further than Colorado.

Video by Jerry Neal. Jerry is the senior videographer and a media specialist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

2 Responses

  1. So two of the ten big game species are non-native introductions? The Mountain Goat might even be considered an invasive species due to it’s impact on native Bighorn Sheep?

  2. I spent 10 minutes wracking my brain to figure out what the tenth species was. Turns out that I completely forgot there are Desert Bighorn in Colorado.

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