Remaining 2021 Colorado Big Game Hunting License Options

Calling all Colorado big game hunters! There are still options to purchase a 2021 hunting license. The remaining licenses go on sale August 3, 2021, at 9 am MT.
bow hunter
There’s still time to plan your Colorado big game hunt!

Calling all Colorado big game hunters! There are still options to purchase a 2021 hunting license. The remaining limited licenses will go on sale on a first come first serve basis starting Tuesday, August 3, 2021, at 9 am MT. The licenses can be purchased online at cpwshop.com, by phone at 1-800-244-5613, or in person at any Colorado Parks and Wildlife Sales Location

Hopefully, you did not wait for leftover day to purchase your 2021 Colorado big game hunting license. Participating in the primary and secondary draws are your best options to get your Colorado hunting license. The leftover list does offer some great opportunities, but it is a highly competitive process and while a few hunters strike gold, the majority of people will be frustrated by missing out on a low quota (limited number) license. In 2021, the leftover list has 33,109 licenses available across 976 hunt codes – far fewer than were available in 2020. The decrease in available licenses is directly related to Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s efforts to make more reissued licenses available through the secondary draw.

What Licenses will be available starting August 3, 2021?

  • Limited licenses left over after the primary and secondary draws for elk, deer, pronghorn and bear
  • Limited licenses that were drawn in the primary or secondary draw, but not paid for by the payment deadline for elk, deer, pronghorn, bear, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, desert bighorn sheep, mountain goat, and moose
    • Please note that Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, desert bighorn sheep, mountain goat, and moose rarely have licenses that are returned to the quota because the person who drew them failed to pay for it. 
  • Limited licenses that were returned for refund/preference point/surrender prior to July 26th and took fewer than 5 points to draw
  • Over-the-counter (OTC) licenses for elk, pronghorn, deer, and bear

NOTE: Do Not Rush to Purchase Your Over-the-Counter License
If you’re purchasing an Over-the-Counter license, please wait until the initial rush of leftover day is over! Over-the-counter licenses are unlimited in quantity and can be purchased after the leftover rush. The majority of web and office traffic will occur right around 9 a.m. on August 3, 2021. If you’re purchasing an over-the-counter license, waiting a couple of hours could end up saving you time!

Changes to Purchasing a Leftover License in 2021

Inventory Hold

Starting in 2021, Colorado Parks and Wildlife is implementing a process called “Inventory Hold,” which is similar to how tickets for events are sold online.

When you enter a hunt code and confirm it, that hunt code is “held” for you in the cart for 15 minutes or until you process the transaction, whichever comes first.

On CPWshop.com, there will be a timer in the upper left corner of the screen that will let you know how long you have to finish processing your transaction, as well as pop-ups with 5 minutes left and when the time has expired. If the time is allowed to expire, another customer can hold/purchase that hunt code.

timer image
CPWshop.com Inventory Hold Timer Location

Please note that you may still see the quota available on the leftover list, even if all the quota for that particular hunt code has already sold out. That is because the leftover list only updates every 5 – 10 minutes.

Queuing System for License Purchases

As in past years, Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s licensing vendor Aspira will be utilizing a virtual queuing program, called Queue-It, to mitigate the load on the system. While products go on sale at 9 a.m., customers who are on the site and logged in prior to 9 a.m. can begin their purchases as long as they are no farther in the process than the residency page.

Purchasing Process

Once you’ve picked your hunt code, head to cpwshop.com and get logged in to your account before 9 a.m. on August 3, 2021, so you’re ready to purchase when the licenses go on sale. You can also call 1-800-244-5613, but know that there may be long wait times.

For step-by-step details on the purchasing process and to view additional screenshots, please see Colorado Parks and Wildlife August Sales Day 2021 Fact Sheet

What Happens if You Don’t Get a License on Leftover Day?

There are always over-the-counter licenses and reissue limited licenses.

Over the Counter License Availability

View the following over-the-counter maps to see the amazing hunting opportunities offered through over-the-counter licenses. View the Colorado Big Game Brochure for hunting dates and additional information.

Archery GMU Maps

Rifle GMU Maps

What are reissued licenses?

Reissued licenses are limited licenses that were returned for a refund or preference points, as well as licenses that weren’t paid for – and are listed on the leftover list.​ For more information on reissued licenses, visit the License Refund & Reissue page.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ Colorado Parks and Wildlife will be adding reissue licenses to the leftover licenses list. The first reissue preview list for big game will be available August 10, 2021 (the week after leftovers go on sale). Starting Wednesday, August 11, 2021, at 11 am MT, licenses for hunt codes that were on the reissue preview list become available for sale and are added to the Leftover List.

What happens if there are no hunt codes available for a week?

If there are no hunt codes available for reissue in a given week, the reissue preview list will get a blank report with the following message: “There are no reissued licenses scheduled for release this week.”

PRO TIP

Have your hunter education verified to your account prior to limited licenses going on sale.

To have your hunter education verified; Stop by a Colorado Parks and Wildlife office with the card, or if the card was issued by Colorado, give CPW a call. The card must either be in the Colorado hunter education database, or Colorado Parks and Wildlife must physically see the card. Cards can only be verified over the phone if a person has previously purchased a hunting or fishing license so there is a record to verify. If verifying a hunter education card over the phone, the customer service representative will have you send your proof of hunter education via email as a scan or photo to complete the verification process. 

What is a hunter education verification?

Colorado licensed hunters have a customer identification number (CID). The hunter education number can be matched to the CID number, and when that happens the hunter education card is verified. When a hunter purchases a license and they are verified, the hunter education number and a “V” for verified will print on the license. Once your hunter education is verified and you have a “V” printed on your hunting license, you will no longer be required to carry your proof of hunter education in the field and you will no longer have to enter your hunter education number while purchasing hunting licenses. 

With a little planning, you could be hunting big game in Colorado this fall.
Good luck and have a safe and enjoyable hunting season!

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