Colorado Hunters, It’s Time to Apply for the Secondary Big Game Draw

The Colorado big game hunting Secondary Draw license list is now available. And here's what you need to know to apply.
Youth Hunter with doe
Photo by Jason Duetsch/CPW

2021 Secondary Draw applications CLOSED on June 30, 2021,
at 8:00 pm MT.

The 2021 Colorado Parks and Wildlife Primary Draw saw a record number of applicants. And for many of us, that meant we did not draw a big game license. For me, the upcoming hunting season will be focused on teaching my son how to hunt big game. To give him the attention that I feel is necessary, I only submitted big game applications for him during the Primary Draw. 

The good news is that we went one for three, drawing a Ranching for Wildlife (RFW) doe deer license. He was excited to draw a RFW license, but he was a little disappointed that he did not draw his elk license. I told him we are down, but not out. He gets another opportunity in the upcoming Secondary Draw. We are going to do a little research, find a hunt that works for his schedule, and put in another application for a 2021 Colorado elk hunting license. If you have a youth hunter that did not draw in the Primary Draw, you are definitely going to want to apply in the Secondary Draw. Read on for the WHY. 

Hunters who did not draw a license in the primary draw should be aware they still have the opportunity to draw a license in the secondary big game draw. Most elk, deer, pronghorn and bear licenses not issued through the primary draw will now be made available in a Secondary Draw that is open to anyone, whether they applied for the primary draw or not. I went one for three on my applications, so I’m getting ready to apply for the Secondary Big Game Draw to see if I can pick up another tag. Applications for the Secondary Draw will be accepted from June 16, 2021 to June 30, 2021 at 8:00 pm MT.

Secondary Draw License Lists

New to the Secondary Draw Process?

The new system means increased opportunity. The old leftover draw only offered deer and elk licenses and was only available to customers who participated in the primary draw. The Secondary Draw now offers two more species, bear and pronghorn licenses, in addition to deer and elk licenses, and is open to all customers whether they applied in the primary draw or not.

Youth Preference

The Secondary Draw is a great opportunity to get a young hunter a big game license. The new system provides youth hunters with a 100% preference in the Secondary Draw. What does this mean? The Secondary Draw processes ALL youth application choices prior to processing adult choices. If your young hunter was unsuccessful in the primary draw, this is another great opportunity to try to get them a Colorado big game hunting license!

What still applies?

  • The application fee.
    You’ll still be charged a fee for applying, whether or not you draw a license. The $7 resident and $9 nonresident application fees apply per species for the Secondary Draw.
  • No primary draw? No problem.
    You do not have to have applied in the primary big game draw to apply in the Secondary Draw.
  • No preference points.
    You cannot use or apply for a preference point in the Secondary Draw.
  • No group hunts.
    You cannot apply as a group in the Secondary Draw.
  • A qualifying license is required.

Any licenses remaining after the Secondary Draw (except for Ranching for Wildlife licenses) will be placed on the leftover list and will be available for purchase on leftover day, starting August 3, 2021 at 9:00 a.m. MT.

NOTE: “Unsuccessful options” have been removed for the draw application process. Over-the-counter unlimited licenses will be available for purchase starting August 3, 2021 at 9:00 a.m. MT

Hey, I Applied for That Hunt Code!

You may see a license available in the Secondary Draw that you were unsuccessful at drawing in the Primary Draw. If a customer fails to pay for the license they were awarded in the primary draw, CPW may reissue the license in the Secondary Draw. Fail to pay licenses will be added to the Secondary Draw list if they took 4 or less preference points for a resident adult to draw in the 2021 primary draw. Licenses that took 5 or more points for a resident to draw in the primary draw, will be reissued to the next person in draw order. Please visit the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website to learn more about License Refunds, Reissues, Reversals and Exchanges.

Try Something New

I know the disappointment of not drawing a license for a familiar game management unit. I also know the disappointment of sitting at home when the big game season starts. And as important as it is to put some healthy game meat in the freezer, my biggest regrets always come from missing time in the field. Successful hunting trips take practice and require a variety of outdoor skills that will get rusty and will not improve if they are not practiced year after year. Look at the Secondary Draw as your opportunity to apply for a hunting license that will allow you to find a new adventure, practice your skills and get out in Colorado’s wild places this fall. Don’t let the frustrations of an unsuccessful Primary Draw be the end to your Colorado big game hunting season. 


Wildlife Officer Albert Romero
Colorado Game Management Unit (GMU) Videos
  • Colorado Big Game Hunting Brochure
  • Colorado Game Management Unit (GMU) Videos: If you are looking to try a new hunting area, CPW wildlife managers have the info you will want to know before applying.
  • Hunting Statistics: Colorado publishes several statistical reports that contain the license quotas, application stats, post-draw stats, number of preference points used to draw each license and harvest estimates. Learn how to read the reports online.
  • Colorado Hunting Atlas: The atlas allows users to view big game concentrations and game management units on top of street maps, USGS topographic maps or high resolution color aerial photography. The Hunter Resource Report allows hunters to create a list of important emergency and contact information, field office locations, campgrounds, CDOW sales agents and more.
  • Colorado Big Game Hunting Series: Colorado Parks and Wildlife is joining with Nate Zelinsky to produce a multipart series, which will cover applications, scouting, field tactics, and more.

Good luck!

10 Responses

  1. Can a non-resident apply for these secondary draw chances?
    Sorry if I missed the answer.


  2. Silly question , where do I apply for secondary draw Archery Elk & Deer .Can`t find anywhere to input the info .

    1. See page 3 of the Colorado Big Game Hunting Brochure –

      List A, B & C: All big-game hunting licenses are either List A, B or C, as indicated in the hunt code tables (“LIST” column) or next to most of the OTC maps in the Colorado Big Game Brochure. The List types exist so that you know if you can get more than one license for the same species:

      • List A: You can only get ONE List A license = A
      • List B: If a hunt is List B, you can get up to TWO licenses: one List A
        license and one List B license, or two List B licenses = A+B or B+B
      • List C: If a hunt is List C, you can get ANY number of List C licenses, as
        well as one List A license and one List B license, or two List B licenses =
        A+B+C+C+C, etc. or B+B+C+C+C, etc.
  3. Why are secondary draw licenses available when I was not drawn for the same license in the first draw.

    1. Please read the “Hey, I Applied for That Hunt Code!” section above. If a customer fails to pay for the license they were awarded in the primary draw, CPW may reissue the license in the Secondary Draw. Fail to pay licenses will be added to the Secondary Draw list if they took 4 or less preference points for a resident adult to draw in the 2021 primary draw.

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