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Deer Hunting Regulations

WHAT’S NEW: 2023


CHANGED: The 3-year preference point average used to determine the high-demand hunt codes that fall into the 80/20 allocation split has been modified to a rolling 3-year average updated annually, with a 1-year lag. See "Nonresident License Allocations" for more.

▶ UPDATED HYBRID DRAW LIST: The hybrid draw list has been updated based on the 2019-2021 draws.

GMU BOUNDARY NAME REVISION: The boundary mentioned in GMU 54 for rifle elk hunt E-F-054-P5-R has been updated to RedGulch following the renaming by the U.S. Board on Geologic Names.

BOUNDARY MODIFICATIONS FOR SOME GMUs: See the updated descriptions for GMUs 8, 123, 124, 125, 128, 129, 135 and 191.

MOUNT EVANS HUNTING CLOSURE MODIFIED: Hunting is prohibited on Mt. Evans Summit Lake cirque, and within one-quarter mile (changed from one-half mile) of either side of the centerline of Mt. Evans Hwy. (Colo. 5).


NEW DEER, ELK, PRONGHORN, MOOSE & BEAR CHANGES: For detailed species-specific new hunts and changes, see the individual species sections.


In 2023, CPW will require mandatory submission of CWD test samples (heads) from all deer harvested during rifle seasons from specific hunt codes. Not all hunt codes in a unit were selected for mandatory CWD testing. Hunters that harvest a deer in the specified hunt codes will be required to submit their deer head to a CPW submission site for testing. There will be no charge for mandatory testing. Get more information about where and how to submit a CWD sample:

If a hunter is not selected for mandatory testing but wants to know whether their harvested deer or elk has CWD, they can submit their animal's head and pay a testing fee of $25. In 2023, testing fees for voluntary submissions will be waived for all moose statewide and all deer from hunt codes that were not selected for mandatory testing but are within the same GMUs that were selected for mandatory testing. Voluntary submissions are accepted annually statewide.


AND NOW THE SECONDARY DRAW IS AVAILABLE: Customers who are successful in the primary or secondary draw will be provided with a short period when they can decide to surrender their license if they no longer want it, receiving preference point restoration to the pre-draw level, a refund of the license fee and removal of the license from the customer's account.

The deadline for the primary draw surrender period is Mon., June 5, at 11:59 p.m. MT. The deadline for the secondary draw period is Mon., July 10, at 11:59 p.m. MT. If we're unable to charge the credit card on file in your account by the payment deadline (June 16, 11:59 p.m. MT for the primary draw; July 21, 11:59 p.m. MT for the secondary draw), your license will be forfeited, and you will lose BOTH the license and any preference points you used to



March 1 - Most qualifying licenses for the big-game draws available starting this date.

March 1 - Applications accepted starting this date. Get your application in early!

April 4 - Application & correction deadline, 8 p.m. MT

May 30–June 2 - Draw results posted online

June 5 - Surrender deadline, 11:59 p.m. MT

June 16 - License payment deadline, 11:59 p.m. MT

June 2–28 - Licenses in the mail


March 1 - Most qualifying licenses for the big-game draws available starting this date.

June 21 - Applications accepted starting this date. Get your application in early!

June 30 - Application & correction deadline, 8 p.m. MT

July 7–June 2 - Draw results posted online

July 10 - Surrender deadline, 11:59 p.m. MT

July 21 - License payment deadline, 11:59 p.m. MT

July 29 - Licenses in the mail

Aug. 1 at 9 a.m. MT: Over-the-counter (OTC), including add-on bear licenses, and remaining (leftover) limited licenses on sale online, in person and by phone.


This brochure will help you decide which big-game species you'd like to hunt, when and where you'd like to hunt, which method of take you'd like to use and the requirements for getting your hunting license. It only takes a few steps to plan your hunt!


You'll need to have your hunter education certification and card number before applying for the draw(s)or purchasing a hunting license if you were born after Jan. 1, 1949. Remember that you must carry proof of hunter education in the field when you hunt!


Colorado offers 10 big-game species. This brochure has hunting rules and options for deer (mule and white-tailed), elk, pronghorn, moose and bear. Pick the species and sex you're interested in hunting.


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. Check out the state map and unit descriptions in the back of this brochure or online:


In general for deer, elk and bear hunting, archery season starts in early Sept. and lasts almost a month. Muzzleloader season starts in the middle of archery season, and four rifle seasons follow that.
The first rifle season is limited to elk and bear hunting only. The second, third and fourth rifle seasons are for elk, bear and deer hunters, who will be in the field at the same time.


Colorado has seasons for archery, muzzleloader and rifle/associated methods hunting. "Associated methods" are shotguns, handguns, muzzleloaders that are a minimum of .40 caliber (.50 caliber for elk and moose), hand-held bows and crossbows. Legal requirements for the various methods and transporting them in the field are described in this brochure.

Hunting Methods


Each year, a set (limited) number of licenses is allotted to each GMU. You can apply for the big game draw(s) to get one of these limited licenses, or after the draws are over, you can purchase a remaining (leftover) limited license when they go on sale.
Some licenses for elk, pronghorn and bear are also available without needing to enter the draw(s) and are not restricted in quantity (unlimited). These can be purchased over the counter after they go on sale online, by phone and in person at sales agents around the state.



Qualifying licenses: A current-year qualifying license is required in order to apply for any of the big-game draws.

Limited licenses: A set (limited) number of licenses are available for specific units and dates for each species, and are issued through an application and draw process.


    Public land licenses: Licenses you can get through the draw(s) that are valid on all CPW-owned or leased public lands, private lands and most federal lands in the specific units listed on your license/in this brochure.

    Private-land-only licenses: Licenses you can get through the draw(s) that are only valid on private lands in the specific GMUs listed on your license/ in this brochure. If your license hunt code has a "P" in the second-to-last part, it's valid on private land ONLY. For example: E-F-007-P5-R.

    You MUST get landowner permission before applying for these licenses.

    Leftover limited licenses: Licenses that weren't issued in the primary draw. They become the licenses eligible for the secondary draw, and any remaining licenses after the secondary draw become available as over-the-counter leftover limited licenses (see "leftover limited licenses" below).

    Ranching for Wildlife (RFW) licenses: Licenses that are available on certain ranch properties for Colorado residents only. See:

    Season choice licenses: Licenses that let you hunt in any or all of the seasons (archery, muzzleloader and/or rifle and associated methods) in specified units with the correct method of take until your license is filled. These licenses are available for deer and bull or either-sex moose only.

    Over-the-counter (OTC) licenses: Licenses (unlimited, unlimited add-on bear and leftover limited) that are available without having togo through the draw(s). They do not require buying/having a qualifying license, do not use preference points and may be purchased any time before and during a season. They're available at over 650 sales agents around the state, including CPW offices and state parks, online, or by phone.


      Unlimited licenses: Licenses that are not restricted in quantity by CPW. You may purchase these licenses when over-the-counter licenses go on sale. "Unlimited" does not mean you can purchase an unlimited number of licenses: See the "List A, B & C" definition at top right.

      Add-on bear licenses: If you have an archery or muzzleloader deer or elk license, you can purchase an OTC bear license for the same method of take. At least one hunting unit must overlap on both licenses. See the deer and elk hunt tables for available hunts.

      Leftover limited licenses: Licenses that weren't issued in the primary or secondary draws go on the Leftover List. Reissued licenses also go onto the list. These are available for purchase in person, online or at sales agents starting on leftover day.

      Landowner preference program (LPP) vouchers: The LPP encourages private landowners to provide habitat for the benefit of wildlife populations and to relieve hunting pressure on public lands. Deer, elk and pronghorn vouchers are allocated to landowners who meet certain qualifications. Applications are drawn during the primary draw, and successful landowners receive a voucher for each winning hunt code. The voucher is transferred directly to a hunter, who then purchases a license to hunt.


      Primary draw: The first, main big-game draw of the year for hunters applying for limited hunting licenses.

      Secondary draw: This draw replaces the big-game leftover draw from past years and includes deer, elk, pronghorn and bear. Applicants can apply for the secondary draw whether or not they applied for the primary draw. Preference points are not used or awarded in this draw.

      LIST A, B & C

      List A, B & C: All big-game hunting licenses are either List A, B or C, as indicated in the hunt code tables (see image at right ) or next to most of the OTC maps. 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.


      Preference points: Preference points help hunters to be successful in future primary draws because points add up per species until an applicant draws a first-choice license. One preference point is awarded to each applicant who qualifies for and DOES NOT draw their first-choice limited license for deer, elk, pronghorn or bear in the primary draw, or who applies using a specific preference-point hunt code that gets them a preference point only as their first choice.

      Weighted preference points: For moose, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep and mountain goat, applicants with at least three preference points will be awarded a weighted preference point in subsequent draws and will be given weighted preference during the license draw.


        Carcass tag: The bottom portion of a hunting license, to be signed, removed and kept with the carcass ONLY after harvesting the animal. Seepage 16.

        CWD: Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a fatal neurological disease that attacks the brains of deer, elk and moose, and has been found in several regions in the state. In 2023, CPW will require mandatory submission of CWD test samples for deer from certain hunt codes. Seepages 13 and 20.

        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.

        GMU: Huntable areas are broken down into units called "game management units." These units help you decide where you'd like to hunt. See theGMU map on the inside back cover.

        Method of take: Colorado has hunting seasons based on archery, muzzleloader, and rifle and associated methods. "Associated methods"are shotguns, handguns, muzzleloaders that are a minimum of .40 caliber (.50 caliber for elk and moose), hand-held bows and crossbows.

        Refunds: You can get a refund OR have your preference points restored for a big-game license that you draw. You must return the license toCPW at least 30 days before the start of the season for which the license is valid.

        Reissues: Most limited licenses that have been returned will be made available to other hunters through a reissue process.Returned limited licenses that took 5 or more preference points to draw will be offered to the next applicant in line, up to 5applicants. Those that took 4 or fewer preference points to draw will be available to the public on the Leftover List.

        Exchanges: You can exchange a license, as long as the license you want to get is for a hunt code for the same species as the current license and there is quota remaining (except for float groups and some unlimited licenses). In most cases, you can exchange from an OTC license to a limited license of the same species and vice versa. Note that there are no refunds or preference point restorations available on exchanged licenses. The fee to exchange is $5. Once a season starts, an exchange is no longer available.



        Learning how to read hunt codes can ensure that you apply for the right hunt in the limited license draw(s) each year. Hunt codes are an 8-character code used to designate species, sex, GMU, season and method of take:

        How to Read Hunt Codes

        1. THE TITLE above each table indicates the method of take for the hunt codes within that table. Start here to find the method of take you wish to use.

        2. THE UNIT COLUMN is where you'll look next to locate the game management unit (GMU) you wish to hunt. Please read the unit tables carefully. Some licenses are valid in one unit only, while others are valid in multiple units. This column also indicates which hunts offer add-on bear licenses in the over-the-counter deer and elk archery and muzzleloader tables: Look for the bear paw symbol!

        3. THE VALID GMUs COLUMN will display information for each hunt and whether it is private land or has other restrictions. If a hunt is labeled as private land, you must get permission from a landowner in that unit before you hunt.

          ▶ If the hunt code for a certain unit is also valid in additional units, the VALID GMUs column will list all the game management units (GMUs) where you can hunt with that same license.

          ▶ If a unit has the same hunt details and hunt codes as another unit, the chart will read “SEE UNIT .” Look up the unit referred to for the correct hunt codes for your hunt.

          4. THE DATES COLUMN lists the applicable season/hunt dates when the license is valid. Each unit may have multiple hunt dates, so please read carefully.

          5. THE SEX COLUMN indicates which sex of animal can be hunted for that specific hunt code. Read the information carefully because the sex of an animal that is huntable in a unit may have changed from previous years.

          6. THE HUNT CODE COLUMN displays the code you will use to apply for the license you want. There are many possible hunt codes associated with each unit, and they may have changed since the last time you hunted, so please read carefully. See section at left on how to read hunt codes.

          7. THE LIST COLUMN displays what type of license you are buying. There are opportunities to purchase more than one license during the year, as long as the licenses meet the requirements of being List A, B or C.

            For details, see the "List A, B & C: Get More Than One License" charts under the big-game species you’d like to hunt in the following sections. When applying in the draw, DO NOT include the list letter on the application.

            NOTE: You may submit one application for each species, per draw, per year. For each application, you may fill in up to 4 hunt code choices.



            1. ID FIRST, TRIGGER FINGER SECOND. Take as much time as necessary to identify an animal before you shoot. Use your binoculars, not your rifle scope, to make a positive ID on an animal. Then put your finger on the trigger.

            2. STUDY THE BODY. There are telltale ways to tell different animals apart. Don’t just look at an animal’s antlers, study the entire head and body of an animal before you shoot. This will help distinguish elk from moose and mule deer from white-tailed.

            3 WATCH FOR BABIES. When hunting elk or moose, be careful not to mistake a moose calf for a cow elk. Young moose have a reddish coat, similar to an elk. Also, it is illegal to kill a bear that has cubs with it. Bear cubs younger than a year old cannot be harvested.

            4. MAKE A MISTAKE?

            Accidents happen. If you’ve shot the wrong species of animal in the field, don’t panic. Field dress the animal, then call the local district wildlife manager or the CPW office nearest to you, listed at the front of this brochure. Admitting a mistake is a hunter’s most responsible plan of action.

            ATTENTION! It is quite common to find both mule deer and white-tailed deer in the same areas, especially on the Eastern Plains. Since both types of deer have the same general body shape and size, hunters can look for a few key differences to make a positive identification. The primary telltale characteristic a hunter should look for is the tail.

            MULE DEER


            • TAIL: rope-like tail with black tip
            • ANTLERS: fork and then fork again, usually very evenly, on older males
            • EARS: large in proportion to head on both bucks and does
            • GAIT: stiff-legged bounce, tail held down
            • RANGE: statewide; in mountain shrubs, foothills, communities
            Mule Deer
            Illustration © Robert Neaves. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. Used with permission.



            • TAIL: broad and brown with white fringe; all white when tail is up
            • ANTLERS: consist of one main beam with three to five tines pointing upward
            • EARS: smaller in proportion to head
            • GAIT: move with a graceful lope, flag-like tail often held up
            • RANGE: common on Eastern Plains; in stream side woodland areas; cropland along rivers
            White-Tailed Deer
            Illustration © Robert Neaves. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. Used with permission.




            Hunters must make big-game hunting reservations for all properties that require them, either online or through the reservation phone number: 1-800-244-5613.Reservations are available starting at 9 a.m. Go online to learn more and find properties that require reservations:


            The Big Game Walk-In Access Program offers big-game hunting on many properties across eastern Colorado. There will be overlap in small-game and big-game seasons, and properties will be signed with WIA boundary signs.

            In 2023 these properties are open for big-game hunting to properly licensed hunters during established big-game seasons from Sept. 1‒Dec. 31 and to small-game hunting from Sept. 1–Feb. 28, 2024. Big-game hunters must possess a valid pronghorn, deer or elk license valid for the unit in which the Walk-In Access property lies.All normal WIA regulations apply. All big-game hunting regulations apply. Go to:


            Up to 7 hunters will have the opportunity to hunt deer, elk or bear, and one hunter for mountain lion, on Fishers Peak, near Trinidad, in 2023. Access is by permit only, issued by drawing. Information about how to apply for these opportunities can be found at:


            WEST OF I-25, PUBLIC LANDS: Collection and possession of antlers or horns on public lands west I-25 from Jan 1–April 30, is prohibited. The public lands west of I-25 are open to collection and possession of shed antlers or horns May 1–Dec. 31 ONLY, except in GMUs 54, 55, 66, 67 and 551, where collecting antlers or horns is further restricted May 1–May 15 between legal sunset and 10 a.m.

            WEST OF I-25, PRIVATE LANDS: On private lands west of I-25, any person may,

            with lawful access, collect shed antlers or horns at any time.

            EAST OF I-25, PUBLIC AND PRIVATE LANDS: On any lands east of I-25, any person may, with lawful access, collect shed antlers or horns at any time.

            NOTE: Public land management agencies may have additional restrictions on use of public lands and removal of shed antlers. Refer to land manager restrictions prior to shed hunting.


            Public Ranching for Wildlife licenses are available only to Colorado residents by draw. Licenses are valid only for the season and ranch specified. RFW landowners must provide free access to hunters who draw a public license for their ranch. By applying for a RFW license, hunters allow CPW to provide applicant information to the ranch. Hunting rules differ for each ranch. Read ranch rules before applying:


            Outreach licenses for youth ages 12–17 are offered to qualified organizations that teach youth participants about hunting techniques, hunting ethics and wildlife management. Outreach licenses for novice adults are offered to qualified organizations sponsoring educational, novice adult or youth hunting activities.

            Outreach licenses for youth are offered on a first-come, first-served basis on private land for youth hunters ages 12–17. Organizations and youth hunters can learn more at

            Outreach licenses for novice adults are offered on a first-come, first-served basis on private land for novice adult hunters who are 18 and older, and who have never purchased a big-game license, have not purchased a big-game license in the last 5 years, or who have only purchased a big-game license in the current or previous year. Organizations and novice adult hunters can learn more at:


            Deer, elk, pronghorn, mountain lion and bear licenses are available to hunters ages 12–21 with a terminal illness or life-threatening disease or injury.

            Requested dates for hunting events must occur between Aug. 15 and Jan. 31 each year. Licenses are now offered in those units with at least one hunt code that requires 10 or more resident preference points to draw (excluding Ranching for Wildlife).

            Before a license is issued, hunters must obtain written permission from the landowner to hunt on private land. Sponsoring organizations must request licenses in writing and document the life-threatening or terminal condition, hunting experience, logistical considerations, hunt location and dates. Submit requests to CPW, Hunter Outreach Coordinator, 6060 Broadway, Denver, CO 80216.


            Legal hunting hours for big game are one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset, unless specifically restricted. Go for a link to current sunrise/sunset tables and more information.


            Guides and outfitters must be registered, bonded and insured in Colorado. They also need permits to operate on public land and must register with the Office of Outfitter Registration, 1560 Broadway, Suite 1340, Denver, CO 80202; 303-894-

            7778; or

            Legal, legitimate outfitters operate around the state and can provide invaluable resources for your hunting trip. Verify an outfitter’s registration by contacting the above office or the Colorado Outfitters Association online:

            KNOW BEFORE YOU GO!

            ▶ HUNTER ORANGE & PINK

            Hunters must wear at least 500 square inches of solid fluorescent orange or pink material and a fluorescent orange or pink hat, visible from all angles, while hunting deer, elk, pronghorn, moose or bear with any firearm license. Archery deer, elk, moose and bear hunters are encouraged, though not required, to wear hunter orange or pink during the overlapping archery and muzzleloader seasons to help address safety concerns.


            Your hunter education card must be carried while hunting, unless it is verified and your license is marked with a “V.” To get your hunter education card verified, take your hunter education card to a CPW office or state park.

            ▶ CARCASS TAGS

            Be sure to sign and detach your carcass tag from your hunting license directly AFTER you harvest your animal, and make sure you attach it toy our take properly.


            All off-highway vehicles operated in Colorado on public lands or traveling on an OHV-designated route must have a validColorado OHV registration or a Colorado OHV permit (except on private property).

            Registrations/permits are $25.25, valid April 1–March 31. OHV permits (applicable for nonresidents and street-legal/plated vehicles) are available online at, at CPW locations and sales agents. Questions,

            call 303-297-1192. Renewal registrations are available online and at CPW locations. New registrations and transfers must be done in person orby mail. Visit for details.

            Contact each public land management agency for their current motor vehicle-use rules, regulations, agency maps and game retrieval specifications and hours. Most areas do not allow off-trail game retrieval with any motorized vehicle. If you witness or observe a violation of OHV misuse on public lands, please report it to any law enforcement officer in that area.


            Hunters who have GPS units are encouraged to mark the location of their harvest in the field. This is especially important for hunters who harvest a moose or bear, as these species require mandatory inspections. During mandatory inspections, hunters will be instructed to give a location of their harvest. Having GPS coordinates makes reporting simple and precise. Use your GPS to set a waypoint where you harvest an animal, and save the UTM or longitude and latitude coordinates. Bring that information to record on the check report form during harvest inspections.


            If you are bringing a horse into Colorado from out of state, you must contact a veterinarian to get a Certificate of Health Inspection no more than30 days before. Horses need a Coggins blood test for equine infectious anemia within a year before coming to Colorado. Call the Colorado State Veterinarian’s office, 303-869-9130. Residents: Horses may require brand inspection before transportation. Call the brand inspector: 303-869-9160


            If you shoot a big-game animal with a collar or ear tag, report the number, color, harvest location and date to CPW, and return the radio collars.

            HOW TO HELP OUTCPW


            CPW conducts big-game harvest surveys each year to estimate harvest, hunter numbers and recreation days. Deer, elk and pronghorn hunters may receive a phone call or email, asking to take part in a survey. This includes questions such as: where you hunted, if you harvested an animal and if you saw overcrowding from other hunters.

            Only randomly selected hunters can participate. Participation is not required, but responding (even if you didn’t hunt or harvest) is an important part of setting future seasons and license numbers. If contacted, you can take the survey online at, or call the toll-free phone number 1-855-924-4278. The survey runs 24 hours daily, Oct. through mid-Feb. See the CPW website for details:


            Approximately every 10 years, each big-game population undergoes a herd management plan review process during which CPW updates management objectives for that herd. These plans set objectives for population size and the ratio of males to females. Management objectives influence decisions about how many licenses of each type can be made available in any given year.

            Every plan update allows for public comment and review. CPW appreciates hearing from all interests to help guide decisions about how big-game populations are managed. Please do not miss these important opportunities to have your voice heard.

            Information about current plans and opportunities to inform plan updates are available on our webpage. You can also receive notices by signing up for CPW's Insider email list from our webpage. Find herd management plan info:


            The TIPs program awards licenses and preference points to eligible persons that report the illegal take, possession or willful destruction of big game or turkey that results in a person being charged for the illegal take, possession or willful destruction of big game or turkey. Advise the charging officer of your interest in a TIPs award. Go to for the criteria to qualify for a preference point or license, or contact CPW for details at 303-297-1192.


            MOOSE: Hunters must personally present their moose to a CPW office (listed on inside front cover) during normal business hours within 5 working days of harvest for a mandatory inspection. The inspection will include a mandatory report and lower incisor extraction. Heads must be unfrozen. Hunters must submit the head and lower jaw of antlered moose with antlers attached, or the head and lower jaw OR an incisor of antlerless moose.

            Additionally, all moose license holders must complete and return a mandatory report provided by CPW within 30 days after their hunting season ends. Anyone who does not complete and return it, including those who were unsuccessful or did not hunt, will not be eligible for a future moose license or point.

            BEAR: Hunters must personally present their bear to any CPW office (listed on inside front cover) during normal business hours within 5 working days of harvest for a mandatory inspection. The inspection will include a mandatory report, sealing and premolar tooth extraction. Heads and hides must be unfrozen.


            Hay, straw and mulch are illegal on federal land and CPW property unless certified free of noxious weeds. Hay must be clearly marked by certifying agency. People who transport these materials on public roads crossing CPW property are exempt. For a list of weed-free forage, contact Colorado Dept. of Agriculture, 303-869-9031; Forest Service or BLM; or go to:


            1. WHAT IS IT?

            Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a fatal neurological disease that attacks the brains of deer, elk and moose. It causes animals to become emaciated, display abnormal behavior and eventually die. Infected animals often show no signs of illness.

            2. WHERE IS IT?

            CWD has been found in several regions in Colorado, as well as other states and provinces. For deer, infection rates tend to be highest in prime-aged mature bucks. See the CWD prevalence maps for deer and elk.

            3. MANDATORY TESTING 2023

            In 2023, CPW will require mandatory submission of CWD test samples (heads) from all deer harvested during rifle seasons from specific hunt codes to better evaluate the prevalence of CWD in herds. There will be no charge for mandatory testing. Not all hunt codes in a unit were selected for mandatory CWD testing.


            If a hunter is not selected for mandatory testing but wants to know whether their harvested deer or elk has CWD, they can submit their animal's head and pay a testing fee of $25. In 2023, testing fees for voluntary submissions will be waived for all moose statewide and all deer from hunt codes that were not selected for mandatory testing but are within the same GMUs that were selected for mandatory testing. Voluntary submissions are accepted annually statewide.

            HUNTING LAWS

            REMEMBER: Hunters can hunt with archery equipment during any rifle season for the 6 species listed in this brochure (see chart below). They must wear fluorescent orange or pink during all rifle seasons except for the limited Sept. rifle bear season.


            1. CENTERFIRE RIFLES

            a. Must be a minimum of .24 caliber (6 mm).

            b. Must have a minimum 16-inch barrel and be at least 26 inches long.

            c. If semiautomatic, the capacity of both the magazine and chamber combined cannot exceed 6 rounds.

            d. Must use expanding bullets that weigh a minimum of 70 grains for deer, pronghorn and bear, 85 grains for elk and moose, and have an impact energy (at 100 yards) of 1,000 ft.-pounds as rated by manufacturer.

            e. It is illegal to hunt game birds, small-game mammals or fur bearers with a centerfire rifle larger than .23 caliber during regular rifle deer and elk seasons west of I-25, without an unfilled deer or elk license for the season. A small-game, furbearer or unfilled big-game license is required.

            NOTE: SMART RIFLES are prohibited, including any firearm equipped with a target tracking system, electronically controlled, assisted or computer-linked trigger or a ballistics computer. Any firearm equipped with a scope containing a computer processor is considered to be a smart rifle.

            NOTE: FULLY AUTOMATIC RIFLES are prohibited.


            a. Only legal muzzleloaders allowed in muzzleloading seasons.

            a. In-line muzzleloaders are legal.

            a. Must be a single barrel that fires a single round ball or conical projectile.

            d. To hunt deer, pronghorn or bear, conical bullets must be a minimum of .40 caliber, and round-ball bullets must be a minimum of .50 caliber.

            e. To hunt elk or moose, conical bullets must be a minimum of .50 caliber, and round-ball bullets must be a minimum of .54 caliber.

            f. From .40 caliber to .50 caliber, bullets must weigh a minimum of 170 grains.

            g. If greater than .50 caliber, bullets must weigh a minimum of 210 grains.

            h. Shot shell primers and B.O.R. Lock MZ System bullets are legal.

            i. Pelletized powder systems are prohibited during muzzleloading seasons.

            j. Cannot be loaded from the breech during muzzleloading seasons.

            k. Only open or iron sights allowed in muzzleloading seasons. Fiber optics and fluorescent paint incorporated into or on open or iron sights are legal. Scopes or any sighting device using artificial light, batteries and electronic gear are prohibited during muzzleloading seasons.

            l. Sabots are prohibited during muzzleloading seasons. Cloth patches are not sabots.

            m. Smokeless powder is prohibited in muzzleloading seasons. Black powder and black-powder substitutes are legal

            n. Electronic or battery-powered devices cannot be incorporated into or attached to muzzleloader during muzzleloading seasons.

            3. SHOTGUNS

            a. Must be minimum 20 gauge and fire a single slug. Use of buckshot is illegal for hunting big game.

            b. Barrel must be a minimum of 18 inches long. Minimum overall length must be 26 inches.

            4. HAND-HELD BOWS

              A long bow, recurve bow or compound bow on which the string is not drawn mechanically or held mechanically under tension. String or mechanical releases are legal if they are hand-drawn or hand-held with no other attachments or connections to bow (except bowstring).

              a. Hand-held bows, including compound bows, must use arrows with a broad-head having a minimum of 7/8-inch outside diameter (width) and a minimum of two steel cutting edges. Each cutting edge must be in same plane for entire length of cutting surface.

              b. Only legal, hand-held bows are allowed during archery seasons.

              c. Minimum draw weight of 35 pounds. No let-off maximum required.

              d. No part of a bow’s riser (handle) or track, trough, channel, arrow rest or other device (excluding cables and bowstring) that attaches to riser can contact, support and/or guide the arrow from a point rearward of the bow’s brace height behind the undrawn string.

              e. Bows can propel only a single arrow at a time. No mechanisms for automatically loading arrows allowed.

              f. Scopes and electronic or battery-powered devices cannot be incorporated into or attached to bow or arrow, with the exception of lighted nocks on arrows. Recording devices such as cameras or video recorders attached to bows may be used as long as they do not cast light toward the target or aid in range finding, sighting or shooting the bow.

              g. Hydraulic or pneumatic technology cannot be used to derive or store energy to propel arrows. Explosive arrows are prohibited.

              5. CROSSBOWS

              a. Draw weight must be a minimum of 125 pounds.

              b. Draw length must be a minimum of 14 inches from front of bow to nocking point of drawstring.

              c. Positive mechanical safety device required.

              d. Bolt must be a minimum of 16 inches long, have a broad-head that is a minimum of 7/8-inch wide and with a minimum of two steel cutting edges. Each cutting edge must be in the same plane for entire length of cutting surface.

              e. Illegal during archery seasons.

              6. HANDGUNS

              a. Barrel must be a minimum of 4 inches long.

              b. Must use a minimum .24-caliber (6 mm) in diameter expanding bullet.

              c. Shoulder stocks or attachments prohibited.

              d. Must use a cartridge or load that produces minimum energy of 550-ft.-pounds at 50 yards as rated by manufacturer.

              7. CALLS

              a. Mechanical calls are legal, including mouth calls.

              b. Electronic calls, such as amplified audio players or smartphone apps, are prohibited for big-game hunting, except for mountain lions during open seasons in specific units.



              1. TRESPASSING. Going onto private lands without getting permission first while hunting, fishing or performing any related activity is illegal.Private lands do not need to be posted or fenced, so it can be difficult to see boundaries. Violators may be suspended for up to 5 years for trespassing. This includes State Land Board properties not leased and signed by CPW, unless permission is given by the lessee. You must have permission from the landowner to enter private land to retrieve a harvested animal. First, you should try to contact the landowner on your own. If that effort fails, call the local CPW office (inside front cover).
              2. Failing to make a reasonable attempt to track and kill animals you wound or may have wounded. Remember that it's against the law to pursue wounded wildlife that goes on private property without first obtaining permission from the landowner or person in charge. You must still attempt to gain permission to enter and locate the animal.
              3. Failing to reasonably dress, care for, prepare and provide edible wildlife meat for human consumption. At a minimum, the four quarters, tenderloins and backstraps are edible meat. Internal organs are not considered edible meat.
              4. Hunting without a proper license. Anyone who hunts wildlife must have in their possession the appropriate and valid Colorado resident or nonresident license that includes their Customer Identification (CID) number, and must only harvest wildlife of the species and type indicated on the license.
              5. Mistakenly killing wildlife. You must field dress and report big-game animals unintentionally killed, not due to carelessness or negligence, to a CPW office (inside front cover) (or the local Sheriff 's office after CPW regular hours) before continuing to hunt and as soon as practical. CPW evaluates the circumstances, including shots fired, species and number of animals present, firearms, ammunition, etc. Big game accidentally killed does not count toward annual bag limits.
              6. Not showing evidence of sex. Be sure to leave evidence of sex naturally attached to the carcass. Evidence includes the head, the vulva or the scrotum.
              7. Carrying loaded firearms while in or on any motor vehicle. Firearms must be unloaded in the chamber. Muzzleloading rifles are considered unloaded if the percussion cap or shotshell primer is removed, or if the powder is removed from flashpan. It is illegal for anyone to have a loaded electronic ignition muzzleloader in or on a motor vehicle; the chamber must be unloaded or the battery must be disconnected and removed from its compartment. Most accidents involving firearms occur in or near vehicles.
              8. Carrying loaded firearms (except handguns) on an OHV during deer, elk, pronghorn and bear seasons. Firearms (except handguns) must be unloaded in the chamber and magazine. Firearms (except handguns) and bows must be fully enclosed in a hard or soft case. Scabbards or cases with open ends or sides are prohibited. This does not apply to landowners or their agents who carry a firearm on an OHV to take depredating wildlife on property they own or lease.
              9. Improperly voiding and/or attaching a carcass tag. You must sign and detach the carcass tag from your hunting license immediately following taking your animal. It is illegal to sign or tear the carcass tag before harvest. The tag must also be attached to the animal properly.
              10. Shooting from or across a public road with a firearm, bow or crossbow. People firing a bow, rifle, handgun or shotgun with a single slug must be at least 50 feet from the centerline of the road.

              FELONY OFFENSES:

              If convicted of a felony violation, you can face a lifetime license suspension:

              ▶ To kill and abandon big game. It is illegal to remove only the hide, antlers or other trophy parts and leave the carcass in the field.

              ▶ To sell, buy or offer to sell or buy big game.

              ▶ To solicit someone to illegally kill big game for commercial gain or provide outfitting services without required registration.


              ▶ Hunt carelessly or discharge a firearm or release an arrow disregarding human life or property.

              ▶ Hunt outside of legal hunting hours (one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset).

              ▶ Interfere with hunters. This includes distracting or frightening prey; causing prey to flee by using light or noise; chasing prey on foot or by vehicle; throwing objects;

              making movements; harassing hunters by using threats or actions; erecting barriers to deny access to hunting areas; intentionally injecting yourself into the line of fire. Violators face prosecution and may have to pay victim’s damages and court costs.

              ▶ Hunt under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances.

              ▶ Operate or ride a snowmobile with a firearm unless it’s completely unloaded and cased, or with a bow unless it’s unstrung or cased. Compound bows must be cased, not unstrung.

              ▶ Shoot from or use a motor vehicle, motorcycle, off-highway vehicle, snowmobile or aircraft to hunt, intercept, chase, harass or drive wildlife.

              ▶ Use aircraft to hunt, to direct hunters on the ground or to hunt the same day or day after a flight was made to find wildlife.

              ▶ For two or more people on the ground, in a vehicle or vessel to use electronic devices to communicate information that violates any wildlife law or regulation.

              ▶ Use computer-assisted remote technology (any device, equipment or software used to remotely control a weapon, including the Internet) to hunt or fish. Hunters and anglers must be physically present in the immediate vicinity while hunting/ fishing.

              ▶ Use unmanned or remote-control drones to look for, scout or detect wildlife.

              ▶ Use live-action game cameras to locate, surveil, or aid/assist in locating/surveilling game wildlife in order to take/try to take wildlife during the same or following day. "Live-action game camera" is any device capable of recording and transmitting photographic/video data wirelessly to a remote device (such as a computer or smartphone). This doesn't include game cameras that record photographic/video data and store such data for later use, as long as the device cannot transmit data wirelessly.

              ▶ Use artificial light as an aid in hunting.

              ▶ Use poison, drugs or explosives to hunt or harass wildlife.

              ▶ Fail to extinguish a campfire completely.

              ▶ Party hunt (i.e. harvest someone else’s game or let someone harvest yours).

              ▶ Use dogs. A leashed dog may be used as an aid in locating/recovering wounded big-game animals, except for black bears, with purchase of annual tracking permit.

              ▶ Hunt big game over bait, whether or not the person hunting personally placed the bait. Bait means to put, expose, distribute or scatter salt, minerals, grain, animal parts or other food as an attraction for big game. Salt or mineral blocks used for normal agricultural purposes are not considered bait. Scent sticks that smell like food are illegal for bears.

              ▶ Post, sign or indicate that public lands, not under an exclusive-control lease, are private.

              ▶ Establish a permanent structure or plant vegetation on CPW-owned land or waters. Only portable blinds and tree stands for big-game hunting can be erected on CPW land, and no more than 30 days prior to the season during which they will be used. No nails can be driven into trees. Man-made materials for blinds or stands must be removed within 10 days after the season they are used in ends. The owner’s CID number and dates of use must be visible on outside of portable blinds or underside of tree stands. Placement of blinds or stands does not reserve them for personal use: They may be used on first-come, first-served basis.



              Colorado and federal laws prohibit people convicted of certain crimes, including felony offenses and domestic violence-related offenses, from possessing weapons even for hunting. If you’ve been convicted of a crime, check with the appropriate Colorado and federal law enforcement authority to find out how these laws apply to you.


              State and Federal law require a Social Security number to buy a license. It is not displayed on the license but is provided, if requested, to Child Support Enforcement authorities. Hunting and fishing licenses are not issued to those suspended for noncompliance with child support. Any current licenses become invalid if held by an individual who is deemed noncompliant by Child Support Enforcement.

              BAG LIMITS

              1. BAG LIMITS, LICENSE PURCHASES: The bag and possession limit is the total number of animals you can legally take of each species. Big game taken in Jan. and Feb. seasons set as part of the previous license year’s seasons fall under the previous year’s bag and possession limit. When a license allows hunting in more than one unit, the unit in the hunt code determines the maximum number of licenses a hunter can obtain per year fort hat species.
              2. MOOSE: The lifetime bag limit for bull moose is one, except for auction, raffle or special management licenses.
              3. COYOTES: You can hunt coyotes without a small-game license during big-game seasons if you have an unfilled big-game license. You can hunt coyotes only in the same unit, season and manner of take as on your big-game license. Once you fill your big-game license, you must buy a small-game or furbearer license to hunt coyotes. Harvesting a coyote does not void your big-game license.

              CARCASS TAGS

              Carcass Tag

              You must attach a carcass tag to animals you harvest per instructions on tag. Tags must be signed, dated and detached from the license immediately upon harvest. See image at right for whereto sign.

              The carcass tag should be attached to the carcass (not to detached hides, horns or antlers carried separately) immediately prior to and during transportation in any vehicle, or while in camp or at a residence or other place of storage. Tags must stay on until meat is processed and remain with meat until consumed.

              The carcass tag, when dated, signed and attached to the species lawfully taken or killed and lawfully in possession, authorizes the possession, use, storage, and transportation of the carcass, or any part thereof.

              ▶ It is illegal to sign the tag before harvesting an animal.

              Do not remove any parts of a license except the carcass tag only after harvest. Doing so voids the license and you must buy a duplicate. The upper part of the license must be kept by whoever harvested the animal.

              If you lose, accidentally destroy or detach the tag, you must buy a duplicate from a CPW office before hunting and prove the loss, detachment or destruction was accidental.

              If you have a nonresident big game/fishing combo license, the fishing license is valid after the carcass tag is detached, as long as the rest of the license is intact.

              EVIDENCE OF SEX

              1. It is illegal to have or transport a big-game carcass without evidence of sex naturally attached. It is illegal to have only detached evidence of sex accompany the carcass. If you submit a deer or elk head for CWD testing, leave evidence of sex on the carcass.
              2. EVIDENCE OF SEX IS:
                1. BUCK/BULL: Head with antlers or horns attached to carcass; or testicle, scrotum or penis attached to carcass.
                2. DOE/COW: Head, udder (mammary) or vulva attached to carcass.
                3. BLACK BEAR: Male: testicles or penis. Female: vulva.
              3. Heads detached from carcass are not adequate evidence of sex.
              4. 4. If a carcass is cut in pieces or deboned, evidence of sex needs to be attached to a quarter or another major part of carcass. All portions must be transported together.
              5. 5. Evidence of sex is not required if a donation certificate accompanies less than 20 pounds of meat or after the carcass is cut into processed meat, wrapped and frozen, or stored at licensee’s home.

              TIP: If you shoot a young buck or bull with antlers less than 5 inches long, it can be considered “antler less.” But what do you do about evidence of sex?

              Leave the head and antlers naturally attached to a portion of the carcass to prove it meets the requirement.

              Leave the testicles attached to a portion of the carcass, and then you can detach the head or skull plate and carry it out with the antlers intact.


              1. You can be cited for illegally transporting game animals even if someone else made an error. When you transport carcasses or processed meat:
                1. Carcasses must be properly tagged. You must meet evidence of sex and antler-point requirements. Hunters must keep their own license.
                2. Carcass tags or donation certificates (for 20 pounds of meat or less) must accompany processed game meat.
              2. Carcass tags must be securely attached to carcass, not antlers or horns, or must accompany processed meat.
              3. To ship by commercial carrier, the license, photocopy of license, carcass tag or donation certificate must accompany carcass or processed meat.
              4. Hunters transporting game through national parks or monuments must follow federal regulations. Contact the National Park Service.
              5. Nonresident hunters should follow their home state regulations in place for transporting harvested deer, elk or moose back from a state known to have CWD.
              6. See the "Elk" section for antler-point restrictions.

              DONATING GAME MEAT

              Donation certificates are required for all game-meat donations. Certificates must show names, addresses and telephone numbers of donor and recipient; donor’s hunting license number; species and amounts donated; date of kill; donor’s signature. The certificate can be a simple note; no special form required. It must stay with the meat until completely consumed. Donor and recipient are subject to bag and possession limits.NOTE: A “like license” is a license for exactly the same species, sex, season and method of take as a donor’s license.

              1. You can donate to someone WITH or WITHOUT a like license:
                1. any amount of processed and packaged game meat, anywhere.
              2. You can donate to someone WITHOUT a like license:
                1. up to 20 pounds of unprocessed meat, anywhere.
                2. more than 20 pounds of unprocessed meat, only at recipient’s home.
              3. You can donate to someone WITH a like license:
                1. up to 20 pounds of unprocessed meat, anywhere.
                2. more than 20 pounds of unprocessed meat, anywhere, only if:
                  • recipient’s license is unfilled, and
                  • recipient’s carcass tag is on the meat. This establishes recipient’s claim to his/her portion of meat and voids his/her license. Donor’s tag must remain with his/her portion.
                3. the entire carcass, if:
                  • recipient’s license is unfilled, and
                  • donor’s carcass tag and recipient’s like-license carcass tag is on the meat, voiding both licenses.

              YOUTH HUNTING


              Youth AGES 12–17 who meet hunter education requirements have the opportunity to hunt big game in several ways: through the draw(s) or over the counter for regular seasons for deer, elk, pronghorn and bear; during the youth extended season for female deer, elk or pronghorn; and through youth outreach licenses.

              AGE REQUIREMENTS:

              ▶ Youth ages 12–17 are offered reduced-cost licenses for deer, elk, pronghorn and bear.

              ▶ At age 11, youth may buy or apply for a license if they will turn 12 before the end of season on the license. Youth cannot hunt with the license until they turn 12.

              ▶ Youth who get their original license when they are 17 and later turn 18 may participate in the extended season hunt. Youth hunting rules still

              apply, even though the hunter is 18 while hunting.

              ▶ Youth must be 12–17 at time of purchase to buy a youth unlimited or leftover license.

              ▶ In order to receive a reduced-cost license and/or youth preference in the draw, youth must be 17 or younger at the time of application.

              ▶ Youth hunters 12–15 years old must be accompanied by a mentor who is 18 or older and also meets hunter education requirements. Youth and mentors must be able to see and hear each other while hunting. Mentors can hunt only if they have a current license valid for the same units and dates the youth will be hunting.


              ▶ A minimum of 15 percent of limited licenses for doe pronghorn, antlerless and either-sex deer, and antlerless elk for each GMU shall be available for youth ages 12–17 who meet hunter education requirements.

              These licenses are available by draw for all seasons and methods of take, including early and late rifle seasons. Licenses not drawn by youth are available to the public. The Air Force Academy unit and Ranching for Wildlife hunts are excluded from this.

              ▶ Group applications are not accepted.

              ▶ GMUs 54, 55, 66, 67 and 551 have youth preference set at 50 percent for all antlerless deer licenses in those GMUs, if applicable.

              NEW A new private-land-only antlerless white tailed deer hunt code DF006P5R will have a youth preference set at 50%.

              ▶ If youth enter more than one hunt code on their application, ALL HUNT CODES must be youth-preference-eligible hunt codes (doe pronghorn, antlerless or either-sex deer, and antlerless elk) and/or youth-only hunt codes (such as D-F-043-K2-R or E-E-851-K2-R).

              ▶ Youth receive preference on ALL HUNT CODES available in the secondary draw.


              Youth may pursue antlerless deer or elk during any rifle season open to antlerless hunts in valid GMUs, as well as hunt pronghorn does during Dec. and the season that runs until Jan. 31, 2024 in GMUs 9 and 191.

              HOW TO PARTICIPATE:

              ▶ Youth must have an unfilled limited antlerless deer, antlerless elk or either-sex elk license after their original season ends. Then they may participate in any open rifle antlerless deer or elk hunt that begins after the last day of the season listed on their original license.

              Youth may hunt in the areas specified on the maps, and must hunt the same species listed on their original license.

              ▶ Youth can now easily convert their unfilled limited either-sex elk or either-sex pronghorn license (where the season has ended) to a female (antlerless) license through the new online Youth Extended Hunt License Conversion Request form. Find the form here: youth-hunting. Youth can also take their original license to a CPW location to have it converted to an antlerless license before hunting any extended seasons.

              ▶ Youth must follow all applicable regulations for any hunts and units they select during the extended season, including season dates and geographic restrictions.

              ▶ Antlered licenses, over-the-counter licenses and either-sex plains rifle elk licenses may not be converted for extended youth hunting.


              Youth outreach licenses are offered for deer, elk and pronghorn to qualified organizations sponsoring youth hunting activities. Organizations and youth hunters can learn more at hunter-outreach.


              1. CHOOSE YOUR SPECIES

              Youth may hunt antlerless deer or elk in extended seasons. Youth may hunt only the species that is on their original license. "Antlerless" means female deer (does) and elk (cows), as well as young males of both species with antlers less than 5 inches long.

              2. CHOOSE WHEN TO HUNT

              If a youth does not fill their original limited antlerless deer, antlerless elk or either-sex elk license (see "Purchasing and Converting Licenses" to the right) — whether it’s for archery, muzzleloader or rifle hunting — they may continue to hunt during any of the rifle seasons listed in this brochure, except for Ranching for Wildlife. They must hunt within areas specified on the maps, and there must be an antlerless hunt going on in the unit and season they wish to hunt.

              3. PLAN AHEAD

              To hunt deer or elk in the extended season, youth must buy a limited antlerless deer, antlerless elk or either-sex elk license. If they don’t fill their tag during the original season, they will be able to continue hunting in certain areas of the state. Look at the maps to make sure you purchase the original deer or elk license within the area you intend to hunt during the extended season.

              4. FOLLOW THE RULES

              When participating in the extended season, youth MUST follow all the rules of hunting during the rifle season, including wearing blaze orange or pink and using a method of take allowed in rifle season. Youth must also follow all unit restrictions where they choose to hunt in the extended season, including any private-land-only designations and any unit boundary restrictions.


              Extended Youth Deer Season

              WHERE TO HUNT DEER & ELK

              ▶ Youth may hunt in any area on the map within the red boundary that also contains the unit for which they purchased their original license. (Units with lines through them and blank, white areas are not open to extended-season hunting.)

              ▶ Youth may only hunt the extended season when an open antlerless rifle hunt is going on in the unit they choose to hunt.

              ▶ Unfilled antlered elk and deer licenses may not be used to participate in the program. Limited either-sex elk licenses must be converted to antlerless licenses, either through the online Youth Extended Hunt License Conversion Request form ( or at a CPW office, and are only valid to hunt and take antlerless elk after doing so.

              FOR EXAMPLE:

              • An original license is purchased in the draw for a youth to hunt either-sex elk in unit 49 during archery season.
              • The youth does not harvest during archery season and converts their unfilled license (see options above).
              • The youth, accompanied by a mentor, may continue to hunt during any of the rifle seasons listed in this brochure for units 49, 57 or 58, as long as there is an antlerless season in progress in the unit the youth wants to hunt.
              • If the youth wishes to continue hunting in unit 49, they may hunt Oct. 28–Nov. 5, Nov. 11–17 or Nov. 22–26. They may also hunt in units 57 or 58 from Oct. 14–18, Oct. 28–Nov. 5, Nov. 11–17 or Nov. 22–26, or on private land only during the late season, Oct. 1–Jan. 31, 2024. Why Oct. 1? The original archery season (Sept. 2–30) must be over before the youth can begin hunting the late rifle season.
              • During the extended season, the youth may use any method of take allowed during rifle season.


              CWD Map
              This map shows the prevalence of CWD in adult bucks in Colorado’s GMUs. Map boundaries are approximate.

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