The big (game) day is almost here! Hunters mark their calendars for the first Tuesday in August each year to take a shot at any big game hunting licenses remaining after the primary and secondary draws. The remaining big game limited licenses will become available for purchase on August 2 at 9 a.m. Mountain Time. Over-the-counter licenses for elk, bear, archery pronghorn, and whitetail deer will go on sale at the same time.
Licenses go on sale online, over the phone, and in person at CPW offices and sales locations all at once. If you’re on a computer or mobile device at home, you have the same shot as someone first in line at a sales location. Limited licenses are first come first served and this is the first opportunity to get a big game hunting license outside of the draw process.
Licenses that will become available include:
- Limited licenses leftover after the primary and secondary draws for elk, deer, pronghorn and bear
- Limited elk, deer, pronghorn, and bear licenses that someone drew but did not pay for during the secondary draw and took fewer than five resident preference points
- Limited licenses that were returned for refund/preference point restoration since the opening of the secondary draw but prior to July 25 and took fewer than five resident preference points to draw
- Over-the-counter (OTC) licenses for elk, archery pronghorn, whitetail deer, and bear
Know your Game Management Units (GMUs)
Colorado is divided into hunting areas called game management units (i.e. GMUs). It’s important that every hunter knows the boundaries of their hunting area, including private land boundaries. CPW’s wildlife officers have created a video series where they answer frequently asked questions, discuss access, describe animal movement, and more. If you are trying to figure out where you want to hunt, this video series is a great way to start your game management unit research.
Over-the-Counter (OTC) Licenses
Over-the-Counter (OTC) licenses are not restricted in quantity but are restricted to certain units, seasons and manners of take. Although they are considered “unlimited licenses,” they are
still subject to purchase limits for each individual.
They are available without having to participate in the draw(s). They do not require buying/having a qualifying license, do not use preference points and can be purchased after the start of a season by phone, online and in person at sales agents around the state.
Over-the-Counter License Availability Maps
- Archery GMU map for over-the-counter antlerless Elk licenses
- Archery GMU map for over-the-counter antlered and either-sex Elk licenses
- Archery GMU map for over-the-counter either-sex Pronghorn licenses
- Rifle GMU map for over-the-counter Bull Elk licenses – 2nd and 3rd season
- Rifle GMU map for over-the-counter either-sex Plains Elk licenses
- Rifle GMU map for over-the-counter Either Sex Whitetail Deer Only licenses
Preparing for Sales Day
Colorado Parks and Wildlife locations and sales agents will be very busy that morning, so try to get prepared ahead of time.
Log into the online system a few days prior to sales day to ensure your information, such as email and mailing address, is up-to-date. If you have any problems getting into your account, contact CPW ahead of time for assistance.
Have your hunt codes and credit/debit card number ready. Check the leftover list, write down all hunt codes you are interested in, and list them with your most coveted licenses first.
If you call the CPW sales line for your purchase, be prepared for extended wait times and have all of your information – including hunt codes – ready. The sales line representatives will not be able to look up hunt codes for you.
Inventory Held in Shopping Cart
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. If the time is allowed to expire, another customer can hold/purchase that hunt code.
Keep the inventory hold system in mind when attempting to purchase licenses from multiple species. Licenses are held in your cart for 15 minutes. Be sure to pay within that timeframe or licenses become available for someone else.
CPW’s licensing vendor Aspira utilizes 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 up to an hour prior will be placed in the queue. Do not go further than the residency page until 9 a.m. or you will be moved to the back of the queue.
You can only purchase for one person at a time, so it may be necessary to work on multiple devices if you are purchasing for multiple people like your children or spouse.
For each species, hunters are limited to one list A and one list B, or two list B licenses. If you received a list A license from the primary or secondary draw, you are only eligible for a list B or list C license. If you received a list B or list C from the primary or secondary draw, you are eligible for either a list A, list B or list C license.
Because the online leftover list updates every 5 – 10 minutes, a hunt code may still be listed as available, even if it is sold out.
Where to Purchase
Colorado Parks and Wildlife strongly suggests hunters purchase their licenses online at cpwshop.com. CPW offices and sales locations use the same system as you do at home, so if you are second in line at an office, you are second in line to everyone at home as well.
Head to cpwshop.com and get logged in to your account up to an hour before 9 a.m. on August 2 so you’re ready to purchase when the licenses go on sale. You can call in and purchase at 1-800-244-5613, but know there will be long wait times.
More information on the leftover list and over-the-counter licenses is available on the CPW website.
Additional licenses will become available as part of our reissue process later in August.
Written by Joseph Livingston. Joseph is a statewide public information officer for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Does a participant lose their accumulated points if they apply for a left over tag?
No points are used for the leftover tags.
No, points are retained.
Under tag quota , does the word FLOAT mean there is none left?
The number of available licenses (quota) is split across multiple hunt codes. From big game brochure – Float groups: When the quota — or number of licenses available — is assigned to a group of hunt codes, rather than just one, that is considered a float group. If you draw or purchase a hunt code in a float group, you may exchange that hunt code for another hunt in that group for a fee as long as your season hasn’t started.
So the license I applied for in the draw and did not get is available as a leftover?
There are several reasons that a license you applied for in the draw is now on the remaining license list. If a license is not paid for by the secondary draw payment deadline it will available in the list. A license can be surrendered. A license can be returned. It is not uncommon to find a license that you applied for on the list. CPW’s licensing staff spend a great deal of time processing licenses as quickly as possible to ensure they get as many licenses (hunting opportunities)as possible on the list for the August 2 sale. Getting hunters in the field is an essential part of meeting harvest objectives. To learn more, please visit CPW’s License Refunds, Reissues, Reversals and Exchanges page – https://cpw.state.co.us/buyapply/Pages/License-Refunds-Reissue.aspx
If i forgot to put in for a point can I do it during this period?
Sorry, you can only apply for a point during the primary draw.
How do I get an OTC bear tag for unit 231
It sounds like you are looking for B-E-012-U5-R, which is for GMUs 12, 13, 23, 24, 25, 26, 33, 34, 131, 231. These licenses are available on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 9 A.M. on AUG 2. Please see page 67 of the brochure for more details – https://cpw.state.co.us/Documents/RulesRegs/Brochure/BigGame/biggame.pdf
If you need additional help, call 303-291-PLAN (7526) to speak to a CPW hunt planner. They’ll make sure you have the answers you need for August 2.
“CPW’s licensing vendor Aspira utilizes 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 up to an hour prior will be placed in the queue. Do not go further than the residency page until 9 a.m. or you will be moved to the back of the queue.”
As I found out last year this system does not work if a person is kicked off due to inactivity within that hour (with no notice mind you). Do I have to keep clicking on different pages to keep myself logged in for an hour? What is the length of inactivity before one is kicked out (and loses their spot in the que)?
It was VERY frustrating to see myself as logged in at the top of the page only to be brought back to the login page when I clicked through the residency page.
It sounds like I will be able add many hunt codes to my cart, more than I would legally be able to possess.
For example – if I just want to hunt for a single deer and I have a few List A options and a few List B’s that I’d be interested in, how does it fill them?
Assuming they are all available, will it:
– fill the first List A but skips any others
– then fills the first List B AND subsequent List B?
What if they are not all available?
– skips any that aren’t available
– if, say, two of the List B’s are in my cart and available, does it fill both?
(Or is there some logic applied to the adding of licenses to cart step?)
In other words, my goal is to get 1 deer tag. I have several GMU’s with both List A and B that I’d be interested in and think I should be adding them to my cart – but I since I don’t know which will be available when I click Check Out I don’t know what will get filled. Will it fill every available tag that I am eligible for?
What does it mean when it says FLOAT on how many tags are left over.
I want to apply for a 3rd season OTC Bull tag but it states I will only be eligible for Zone B? How do i figure out what zone that is?