Colorado Hunting Guide
Colorado is home to more than 23 million acres of public land. The mountainous and open areas of Colorado support a diverse group of species. Combined with Colorado’s permissive firearm regulations, the state is a popular destination for hunters and outdoor enthusiasts alike.
What to Hunt
Colorado supports a diverse and healthy population of game species. Hunters can find these species all across the state at varying elevations and in varying habitats.
Deer is one of the most popular game species in Colorado, and aspiring deer hunters must enter a draw for a big game hunting tag. Colorado is home to well-distributed mule deer and whitetail deer populations. Migration for the winter usually happens during the fourth rifle season (mid-November) or late season (through mid-January). This helps hunters find deer at lower elevation. The rut for deer in Colorado is usually the first day of fall.
The Rocky Mountains in Colorado are home to a stable population of elk. Elk can mostly be found in the north and northwest regions of the state. Colorado is home to the largest elk herd in the country, and there are about 280,000 elk in the state. If hunters are not able to obtain a big game license through the tag, they can get over the counter tags through elk hunting game management units. These licenses go on sale in early August.
Pronghorn licenses are distributed by draw in Colorado. The species is most commonly found in the northwest region, though some herds and trophy bucks may also be distributed in the east. Hunters may benefit from taking a trip out before the season begins to identify hunting spots, find landowners, and obtain permission to hunt.
Black bear in Colorado enter hyperphagia (“feeding frenzy”) in mid-August, and their diets change from leaves and flowers to fruits and nuts. In September and even into early October, bears are extremely likely to be in lower-elevation areas where fruit and nuts are most abundant. Hunters should note that bear positions in mid-summer are not relevant by the time hunting season begins. It is not permitted to kill a black bear accompanying cubs, or the cubs themselves.
Colorado is home to both Rio Grande and Merriam’s turkeys. Colorado also offers free turkey hunting clinics for new hunters. Wild turkeys can be found in several areas around the state, including west of Fort Collins in Lory State Park and the foothills of Rist Canyon. Turkey are also distributed in the Greeley and Windsor areas, as well as Fort Collins near the Poudre River. Turkey licenses are given through drawings in the fall and the spring.
Colorado is home to many different species of small game, including fox, coyote, dove, geese, rabbit, and squirrel. These small game animals can be found across the state. Each species is subject to its own unique set of regulations.
Several species of waterfowl are supported by Colorado’s ecosystems. Potential hunters must have a small game license, youth small game or combination license, federal duck stamp, and a Colorado Waterfowl Stamp to hunt these animals.
The mountainous regions of Colorado support a healthy population of mountain lion at various elevations. Hunters may only harvest one mountain lion each year. Hunters must complete course and an exam in order to purchase a mountain lion hunting license. Hunters most report mountain lion kills within 48 hours, and must bring the lion for inspection by a Colorado Parks & Wildlife officer within five days.
Other Colorado game species include: Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, Mountain Goat, Band-Tailed Pigeon, Chukar Partridge, Crow, Doves, European Starlings and English or House Sparrows, Greater Prairie Chicken, Grouse, Pheasant, Quail, Sandhill Crane, Sora and Virginia Rail, Teal, White-Tailed Ptarmigan, Wilson’s Snipe, Abert’s Squirrels, Beaver, Bobcat, Snapping Turtle, Cottontails, Snowshoe Hares, White-Tailed and Black-Tailed Jackrabbits, Coyote, Fox and Pine Squirrels, Marmot, Prairie Dogs, Prairie Rattlesnake, Wyoming Ground Squirrel, Badger, Mink, Pine Marten, Gray Fox, Red Fox, Swift Fox, Raccoon, Ring-Tailed Cat, Skunk, Long-Tailed Weasel, Short-Tailed Weasel, Opossum, Muskrat, Goose, Duck and Coot, Teal, etc. found in the "Hunting Seasons" section at bottom of the page
Where to Hunt
Colorado has many different types of hunting lands. The state also publishes a yearly hunting atlas with extended information on where to hunt in Colorado.
State Wildlife Areas
Colorado features over 300 state wildlife areas, which total over 650,00 acres. These areas provide hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation opportunities to residents and nonresidents.
State Recreational Lands
A valid hunting or fishing license is required for anyone over 18 wishing to access Colorado’s state wildlife areas. Approximately 775,000 acres of land has been designated for hunting and outdoor recreational activities. This area is part of the Public Access Program, and its size increases every year. Most of the areas in the Public Access Program are only accessible by foot.
It is required to have a hunting license to hunt in Colorado.
|Annual Small Game Hunting||$31.41||$86.50|
|1-day Small Game Hunting||$14.46||$17.64|
|Additional Day Small Game Hunting||$7.05||$7.05|
|Fall Turkey License||$26.12||$160.67|
|Youth Turkey License (under age 18)||$16.58||$107.69|
|Youth Annual Small Game Hunting License (under age 18)||$1, plus surcharge||$1, plus surcharge|
|Desert Bighorn Sheep||$319.58||$2,343.10|
|Youth Big Game (deer, elk, pronghorn under age 18)||$16.32||$107.43|
Anyone born on or after January 1, 1949 is required to complete a hunter education course before applying for a Colorado hunting license. Classes are available as in-person instruction or as a combination of online instruction and field day(s). A bowhunting class is also available.
Youth hunters must be 12 years of age or older to hunt big game. Youth hunters must also have a hunting license and meet the relevant hunting education requirements. Youth hunters 12-17 years old must be supervised by a hunter who is 18 or older and also meets hunter education requirements.
A youth small game license is available for hunters under the age of 12. These hunters must also be supervised by an adult, licensed hunter.
Colorado considers the following animals “furbearing mammals” for the purposes of trapping: mink, pine marten, badger, red fox, gray fox, swift fox, striped skunk, western spotted skunk, beaver, muskrat, long-tailed weasel, short-tailed weasel, coyote, bobcat, opossum, ring-tailed cat and raccoon. A furbearer license is required to take these animals be means of trapping.
|Deer/Elk*||Sep 2 2023 - Nov 26 2023|
|Moose*||Sep 9 2023 - Oct 14 2023|
|Pronghorn*||Aug 15 2023 - Oct 15 2023|
|Bear*||Sep 2 2023 - Nov 26 2023|
|Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep*||Aug 1 2022 - Dec 31 2022|
|Desert Bighorn Sheep*||Nov 1 2022 - Nov 30 2022|
|Mountain Goat*||Sep 6 2022 - Nov 6 2022|
|Band-Tailed Pigeon||Sep 1 2022 - Sep 14 2022|
|Chukar Partridge||Sep 1 2022 - Nov 30 2022|
|Crow||Nov 1 2022 - End of February 2023|
|Doves||Sep 1 2022 - Nov 29 2022|
|European Starlings and English or House Sparrows||Season Open Year-Round|
|Greater Prairie Chicken||Oct 1 2022 - Jan 31 2023|
|Grouse*||Sep 1 2022 - Nov 27 2022|
|Pheasant*||Nov 12 2022 - Jan 31 2023|
|Quail*||Nov 12 2022 - Jan 31 2022|
|Sandhill Crane||Oct 1 2022 - Nov 27 2022|
|Sora and Virginia Rail||Sep 1 2022 - Nov 9 2022|
|Teal||Sep 10 2022 - Sep 18 2022|
|White-Tailed Ptarmigan*||Sep 10 2022 - Nov 27 2022|
|Wilson’s Snipe||Sep 1 2022 - Dec 16 2022|
|Abert’s Squirrels||Nov 15 2022 - Jan 15 2023|
|Beaver||Oct 1 2022 - Apr 30 2022|
|Bobcat||Dec 1 2023 - End of February 2023|
|Snapping Turtle||Apr 1 2022 - Oct 31 2022|
|Cottontails, Snowshoe Hares, White-Tailed and Black-Tailed Jackrabbits||Oct 1 2022 - End of February 2023|
|Coyote||Season Open Year-Round|
|Fox and Pine Squirrels||Oct 1 2022 - End of Feb 2023|
|Marmot||Aug 10 2022 - Oct 15 2022|
|Prairie Dogs||Jun 15 2022 - End of February 2023|
|Prairie Rattlesnake||Jun 15 2022 - Aug 15 2022|
|Wyoming Ground Squirrel||Season Open Year Round|
|Badger, Mink, Pine Marten, Gray Fox, Red Fox, Swift Fox, Raccoon, Ring-Tailed Cat, Striped Skunk, Western Spotted Skunk, Long-Tailed Weasel, Short-Tailed Weasel, Opossum, Muskrat||Nov 1 2022 - End of February 2023|
|Goose*||Sep 1 2022 - Apr 30 2023|
|Duck and Coot*||Oct 1 2022 - Jan 31 2023|
|Teal*||Sep 10 2022 - Sep 18 2022|
|Turkey||Apr 9 2022 - May 31 2022|
|Sep 1 2022 - Oct 23 2022|
|Dec 15 2022 - Jan 15 2023|
|Mountain Lion||Nov 28 2022 - Mar 31 2023|
|Apr 1 2023 - Apr 30 2023|
*Hunting dates for this species may vary by zone, method of take, or subspecies of animal. Visit the state’s website https://cpw.state.co.us/thingstodo/Pages/HuntingSeasonDatesAndFees.aspx to find out more.
Disclaimer: The information provided here is not to be construed as legal advice or acted upon as if it is legal advice: it is provided for informational purposes only. While we strive to provide accurate, up-to-date content, we cannot guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or currency of the information.