Big Game Season Structure

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An additional Parks and Wildlife Commission meeting has been scheduled for April 5, 2024. The agenda will include staff updates, public comments, and Commission discussion regarding Big Game Season Structure (BGSS).

BGSS will also be considered by the Commission at the May and June meetings. More information is available on this page and on the Parks and Wildlife Commission website. Please direct all comments about BGSS or related topics to the Parks and Wildlife Commission to ensure your comments are included in the record and provided to the Commission. You are encouraged to email your comments to the Parks and Wildlife Commission (dnr_cpwcommission@state.co.us) or sign up to attend a Commission meeting and provide your verbal comments. We are no longer accepting feedback through this page.



Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) has released its preliminary alternatives and staff recommendations for the 2025-2029 Big Game Season Structure (BGSS). Over the past year, CPW carefully considered various biological, social, and economic factors, as well as internal and external input received during its extensive public outreach process, when developing these BGSS recommendations.

The BGSS planning process is a critical component of big game management and big game hunting regulation development in Colorado and provides a framework for CPW staff to make annual license recommendations. The central purpose of the BGSS planning process is to determine what, when, and where various types of big game hunting opportunities are available, and to determine how the timing of opportunities are divided among hunters. Through this planning process, CPW is better able to maintain healthy wildlife populations in keeping with management objectives.


2025-2029 BGSS Staff Recommendations

  • Change to the previous season structure (2015-2019) for regular deer and elk rifle seasons.
  • Maintain the status quo for season structure for early seasons (archery and muzzleloader) for deer and elk west of I-25 and GMU 140; in addition, there shall be an additional stand-alone limited archery antlered deer season that opens August 15th and closes September 1st, annually. This season would be optional and determined on a herd-by-herd basis (DAU/GMU), allowing for regional flexibility. This optional antlered deer season would not replace existing antlered, either-sex, and antlerless deer archery seasons.
  • Over-the-counter (OTC) archery: Limit all resident and nonresident archery licenses - limited licenses to be available through the draw by management area (Data Analysis Unit (DAU) or Game Management Unit (GMU)).
  • OTC rifle: Maintain the status quo; keep unlimited licenses available for antlered elk during the second and third general rifle seasons in OTC units. Keep limited either-sex or limited antlered elk licenses available in remaining limited units. All antlerless elk licenses remain limited. Limited licenses issued by GMU/DAU.
  • Addition of an optional* rifle deer hunt during the first regular rifle season (currently elk only).
  • Addition of an optional* second regular rifle buck and doe pronghorn season.
  • A change to the BGSS cycle length was considered. CPW recommends maintaining the status quo of conducting a review of the BGSS every five years.
  • Administrative topics (cow moose): Optional late cow moose season that would be additional to the regular moose rifle season, and would be valid for all regular rifle deer and elk seasons (with no hunting during the breaks between seasons) when necessary to meet management objectives for moose.
  • Administrative topics (private-land-only (PLO) black bear): Modify the existing language to clarify that PLO rifle bear licenses are not required to be unlimited OTC for every population/DAU (managers could still choose an unlimited PLO OTC strategy).

*Optional: CPW staff would have the option to utilize this season as a tool to meet biological objectives (established in Herd Management Plans) and/or social management objectives; would be determined on a herd-by-herd basis (DAUs).


CPW will present these preliminary alternatives and staff recommendations to the Parks and Wildlife Commission at the March Commission meeting in Denver; staff are planning a three-step approval process, with the Commission making final decisions on season structure in June.


If members of the public are interested in providing a comment on the BGSS preliminary alternatives and staff recommendations, they are encouraged to either 1) submit a written comment to the Commission inbox (dnr_cpwcommission@state.co.us) to ensure their comments are included in the record and provided to the Commission or 2) sign up to provide a verbal comment at a Commission meeting.

An additional Parks and Wildlife Commission meeting has been scheduled for April 5, 2024. The agenda will include staff updates, public comments, and Commission discussion regarding Big Game Season Structure (BGSS).

BGSS will also be considered by the Commission at the May and June meetings. More information is available on this page and on the Parks and Wildlife Commission website. Please direct all comments about BGSS or related topics to the Parks and Wildlife Commission to ensure your comments are included in the record and provided to the Commission. You are encouraged to email your comments to the Parks and Wildlife Commission (dnr_cpwcommission@state.co.us) or sign up to attend a Commission meeting and provide your verbal comments. We are no longer accepting feedback through this page.



Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) has released its preliminary alternatives and staff recommendations for the 2025-2029 Big Game Season Structure (BGSS). Over the past year, CPW carefully considered various biological, social, and economic factors, as well as internal and external input received during its extensive public outreach process, when developing these BGSS recommendations.

The BGSS planning process is a critical component of big game management and big game hunting regulation development in Colorado and provides a framework for CPW staff to make annual license recommendations. The central purpose of the BGSS planning process is to determine what, when, and where various types of big game hunting opportunities are available, and to determine how the timing of opportunities are divided among hunters. Through this planning process, CPW is better able to maintain healthy wildlife populations in keeping with management objectives.


2025-2029 BGSS Staff Recommendations

  • Change to the previous season structure (2015-2019) for regular deer and elk rifle seasons.
  • Maintain the status quo for season structure for early seasons (archery and muzzleloader) for deer and elk west of I-25 and GMU 140; in addition, there shall be an additional stand-alone limited archery antlered deer season that opens August 15th and closes September 1st, annually. This season would be optional and determined on a herd-by-herd basis (DAU/GMU), allowing for regional flexibility. This optional antlered deer season would not replace existing antlered, either-sex, and antlerless deer archery seasons.
  • Over-the-counter (OTC) archery: Limit all resident and nonresident archery licenses - limited licenses to be available through the draw by management area (Data Analysis Unit (DAU) or Game Management Unit (GMU)).
  • OTC rifle: Maintain the status quo; keep unlimited licenses available for antlered elk during the second and third general rifle seasons in OTC units. Keep limited either-sex or limited antlered elk licenses available in remaining limited units. All antlerless elk licenses remain limited. Limited licenses issued by GMU/DAU.
  • Addition of an optional* rifle deer hunt during the first regular rifle season (currently elk only).
  • Addition of an optional* second regular rifle buck and doe pronghorn season.
  • A change to the BGSS cycle length was considered. CPW recommends maintaining the status quo of conducting a review of the BGSS every five years.
  • Administrative topics (cow moose): Optional late cow moose season that would be additional to the regular moose rifle season, and would be valid for all regular rifle deer and elk seasons (with no hunting during the breaks between seasons) when necessary to meet management objectives for moose.
  • Administrative topics (private-land-only (PLO) black bear): Modify the existing language to clarify that PLO rifle bear licenses are not required to be unlimited OTC for every population/DAU (managers could still choose an unlimited PLO OTC strategy).

*Optional: CPW staff would have the option to utilize this season as a tool to meet biological objectives (established in Herd Management Plans) and/or social management objectives; would be determined on a herd-by-herd basis (DAUs).


CPW will present these preliminary alternatives and staff recommendations to the Parks and Wildlife Commission at the March Commission meeting in Denver; staff are planning a three-step approval process, with the Commission making final decisions on season structure in June.


If members of the public are interested in providing a comment on the BGSS preliminary alternatives and staff recommendations, they are encouraged to either 1) submit a written comment to the Commission inbox (dnr_cpwcommission@state.co.us) to ensure their comments are included in the record and provided to the Commission or 2) sign up to provide a verbal comment at a Commission meeting.

Share Your Thoughts!

Let us know what you think about Big Game Season Structure and the possible OTC alternatives. Share your ideas and comments with CPW and see what others are saying. (All comments are public and subject to review.)

CLOSED: This discussion has concluded.

I am a life-long resident of Colorado and have hunted most of my life. Several issues need to be addressed:
1- Resident hunters do not currently get priority for licenses – they should. There should be no OTC for N/R’s.
2- We need better and active management of our wildlife. OTC and draw licenses should be limited to reduce the overwhelming number of hunters. The tags for the following year should be appropriated based on the previous years’ harvest in each GMU. CPW officials should conduct surveys during and after hunting EACH YEAR to base adjustments on.
3- Motorized vehicles are out of control. The onslaught of ATV’s and the sheer volume of people in the woods drives game onto private property where they stay until the pressure eases up.
4- Landowner tags should only be allowed for hunting on the landowner’s own property and not for anywhere else within the GMU.

Blacquesmoke 5 months ago

I Support A5 and R5. One step at a time. If over crowding and opportunity continues to suffer, look at further limiting OTC during the next 5 year planning phase. Residents should have priority as they do in most other western states.

EJSumner 6 months ago

I am a resident bow and rifle hunter. I prefer options A5 and R5.

tonybates 6 months ago

CPW definitely need to reduce OTC licenses both archery and rifle. Elk herds are not reproducing to maintain current numbers. Elk hunted from August through January, much too long. More and more hunters in all seasons. Fewer elk. Now more pressure (wolves) which will affect herd numbers. Revenue will be lost but in the near future, as hunting success declines, less people will hunt and will lose revenue anyway. A quality hunting experience (more animals, less hunters) is important. State should look at other sources for funding CPW (wildlife).

jimbla 6 months ago

Lifetime resident & love to hunt my home state every year. I feel like we need to manage the resource and the experience (overcrowding has become an issue and it's not getting better). That being said, my preference is A5/R5. I realize that may not be a very popular choice with non-resident hunters, but it provides a 'perk' for being a resident... and to be honest, over the last 45 years the perks to stay in this state are becoming scarce.

ELKiller 6 months ago

As a Colorado resident since birth in 1971, and a hunter since 1980, I would prefer A6/R6 and a 90/10 allocation in all units no exceptions. No preference point system for anyone. Current non-resident fees are appropriate in comparison to other states. The non-resident fees should be kept so, in the middle of the pack.

Nothing will make all happy and to be honest, making everyone happy is not the job of CPW.

Side note: My openness to non-resident hunters has faded in the last 25 years due to multiple disturbing, questionable, and unethical occurrences.

psauer 6 months ago

For all of you Residents who are beating your chests saying that Parks and Wildlife should increase NR fees:

Parks and Wildlife closed its 2023 books with $42,256,844 million in the black. It is pretty obvious that Parks and Wildlife doesn't need more money.

NRs are already paying 12X more for an elk license than a resident....

So please stop trying to turn hunting into a "richer" man's sport by suggesting P&W should increase NR fees. It doesn't help anyone....

I get it, residents want more tags and less pressure. Who doesnt?! But don't ask for more tags by simply pricing blue collar NR's out of the equation. Because I have news for you all.....you will NEVER price all NR's out of the equation. You will price good people out of the equation and then you will be left with only a bunch of trust fund/attorney /rich a-hole NR hunters who are the only ones that can afford to hunt there. Have you ever hung out with those people? Well, you will be if the prices keep increasing...

Bottom line, Parks and Wildlife doesn't need more money. They need a solution to a population problem of overcrowding.

A6/R6 is the best solution for everyone.

GeorgiaBulldog 6 months ago

Resident hunter with preference for A5/R5.

Hes1745 6 months ago

I like A3 and R3: Laughed with/at the person who brought up the newly introduced wolves. They should of been left loose in the eastern slop as they seem to vote all this in. The other issue is bear and how they are doing well since the spring bear hunt is gone. The year I got a bear license the government hunter shot five in the area I was hunting and just left them rot. Not too long ago we seen 10 bear in five days black power hunting. Make a season and give nonresidents unlimited license to put that trophy on their wall and by the way it is not bad eating; some. I like the idea of being able to manage specific herd and feel it should be more about wildlife management than money.

SlyBowHunter 6 months ago

I strongly believe A6 and R6 provide the best opportunity to both manage hunting pressure and herd size. with the following provisions. Residents should be given preference in these drawings by employing the 70/30 allocation of residents to non-residents in current OTC units and 80/20 in any units requiring 5 or more preference points to draw. The designation of quality (5 or more points) should be made annually not every 5 years.
This past year the archery units on Grand Mesa were draw only to try to address hunting pressure. Unfortunately, there were so many licenses allocated to the draw that there were still leftover licenses after the secondary draw. If we are going to manage hunter numbers, the allocated licenses per unit must be reduced below current participation levels or the overcrowding will still exist.

George Osborn 6 months ago

A5/R5. Over and above the funding that nonres hunters bring to the economy and CPW's budget, we need to support residents who bring money to CPW on many other outdoor activities (year round fishing, hiking, skiing, etc), hunt types (incl upland, waterfowl) and fishing. Reward us who continue to support CPW and the economy year-round and not just one week per year. And, we HAVE to reduce the res/non-res draw splits for all units to 80/20 or 90/10. Note the landowner pool in prime units comes from residents so that in reality the res/non-res splits are almost the same. Do a survey of the front range elk units so see the real figures. Residents deserve more opportunity in good units over non-residents from a fundamental social contribution and financial perspective. If CPW's budgets need to change, better get ready to be active and ready to cut programs now anyway with the predator spiral that we are about to realize.

A Colorado outdoorsman since 1985.

JoelF 6 months ago

I agree with most of the comments here about reducing non-resident participation to match what other states do. My ideal world is to draw better tags in my own state more often for me and my kids and reduce tags. The only way to do this is to reduce non-res tags if one goal is to reduce overall hunter numbers which not affecting residents. At times, I feel that CPW has "opportunity hunt OTC seasons" with an unlimited number of hunters involved just as a funding mechanism because they know elk success will be in the single digits. Hunting in crowded "non-quality unit OTC non-draw years pumpkin patch of orange" units is neither successful, enjoyable for a hunter with family and is the #1 reason I feel that prevents the recruitment of new hunters which we drastically need. I likewise apply in most other states and am used to this system so I suspect non-residents will accept the same in time. Big issue I am sure CPW will have is reduced funding at the CPW level and the local economy level. While I feel for the local economy needs, I think you have to prepare yourself for this budgetary environment/reduced programs and services anyway with the reality of herd reductions in the face of continued adverse winters, habitat loses with the ever-changing human populations and of course at least the initial onset of wolves on the landscape once they get their foothold ALL at the same time. It will take 10-15 years to teach elk how to avoid these predators (like in NW Wyo) and hopefully herds don't permanently crash like they did in northern Idaho and the Bob Marshall in Montana. Also, I have lived in Colo over 30 years and hunted almost as long and am available to participate at any commission meeting or working group.

JoelF 6 months ago

I prefer A5/R5. But I do understand there may be units where not enough residents might hunt and you would need to allow more non-residents. Many other western states have limited tag opportunities for non-residents and doing so has pushed a lot of pressure onto Colorado. It is time to take action. I understand this could result in significant revenue loss but I would be willing to pay more for my resident tags if it meant I got to hunt deer and elk each year without so many other hunters. I also don't like that the only time I'm given preference as a resident (65% vs 35%) is during the first choice of the first drawing. After that, non-residents get equal opportunities (for second choice, left over drawings, etc). Thank your for your consideration!

A Colorado hunter since 1992

cnmclain 6 months ago

I would like to see a variation of A5/R5 where all nonresidents apply for unit/season specific tags. The variation would be that all residents get OTC tags that are unit/region specific and capped at a liberal maximum per region. This would help the overcrowding and point creep for nonresidents and also decrease overcrowding due to residents. This would give CPW better control in managing herds and hunter satisfaction in each unit.

BigHank 6 months ago

Was hoping I would get a survey but since I didn’t I will leave my comments here. First off non-residents should have absolutely no say in this process. It’s not their wildlife its the residents wildlife. I would prefer a draw only system for residents and non residents(A6, R6) it should be 85-15 or 90-10 for resident tags to non-resident tags this would put Colorado in line with almost all western states.
Thanks
A life long Colorado resident

Itased 6 months ago

I agree with changing to a2 and r1. Reason is you take away otc you will see more people go to other states that have them and revenue will be lost. The rifle hunting numbers are not high like the archery season. Lessening hunters for archery will allow more cows to get through breeding and help build the herd. By the time rifle starts breeding is over with. And like other residents stated keeping over the counter only for residents means no point in preference points then for residents and also allows less revenue over time

Unsin002 6 months ago

I strongly support A5 & R5.
Many of the NR comments are based solely on their monetary contribution, most resident hunters are more than willing to pay more to ease crowding. Most resident hunters hunt the same gmu year after year, generation after generation. NR hunters tend to flock to whatever unit was featured on social media. One season the unit may be fairly quiet and one youtube video gets posted and you have 30 NR trucks at the trailhead.
Managing NR licenses will solve the over crowding.

All reissue tags should:
1- go 100% to youth
Or
2- require the use of pref points to obtain.
This system allows some people to hunt highly coveted units multiple times without using pref points!!!

Lyco82 6 months ago

I would like to thank this committee for the hard work they are undertaking to update the management plan. I realize there are many tough decisions that need to occur and this requires a balance of many factors that unfortunately have to include economics.

As many others in this group chat have suggested, I strongly advocate to greatly increase fees and limit opportunities for nonresidents as basically every other state has implemented. I do not feel that there should be any over the counter tags for nonresidents. As a resident, I utilize the over the counter tag opportunities to ensure I can hunt elk every year so I would appreciate that this group maintains that access for residents.

I also advocate for a reduction in the nonresident tags to at a maximum of 10% and would even suggest considering a reduction to 5% cap.
I feel it would be more than reasonable to increase nonresident fees to 2-4 fold to maintain the revenues. Let’s set the market and see what nonresidents will pay. I know I have large amounts invested in other states and continue to not draw out of state tags with the worsening point creep.

I am willing to pay a bit more annually as a resident to supplement any losses that occur from limiting nonresident tags.

As we continue to see wildlife experience new challenges with reductions in habitat,
diseases, large winter kill impacts last year, predation with the reintroduction of wolves it just seems like we are going in the wrong direction.

I would also like to thank everyone who is sharing their thoughts and ideas to improve things in our state. Please continue to advocate for conservation and provide balance views as you encounter others to help educate those who do not hunt.

jfreml 6 months ago

I think that A5 and R5 is the way to go. Make nonresidents draw the tag, and decide which unit they are going to hunt. That way if a portion of the state gets an insane amount of winter kill (like this year) nonresidents don’t go to other parts of the state and pressure the heck out of it they are tied to a unit. Also with draw, CPW you guys could make more money off of charging for an application/preference point to every nonresident that applies, and if you want to add a $20 “processing fee” for everyone that applies as well then that helps to recoupe some costs. I understand managing wildlife takes money so this is a way to make some back. If you just do the cap then you’re only going to make money off of those nonresidents that are successful and able to buy a license instead of making money off of everyone who applies like you would in a draw. OTC for nonresidents needs to be ended. Manage the wildlife and OPPORTUNITY for the residents. Again you guys can make more money off a draw process than a capped process. This is also coming from a current resident that will likely become a nonresident in the very short future. Just my 0.02.

adowney15 6 months ago

I support A6/R6 as a resident. Management through OTC tags is NOT management. Both animals and hunter numbers need to be managed properly.

Though I do think A5/R5 could be a reasonable compromise

nick.dondey 6 months ago
Page last updated: 20 Mar 2024, 09:00 AM