5 replies [Last post]
Joined: 03/18/2012
Posts: 1
New Hunter

Dear reader,

    I have never used a forum/blog before and am in need of some information, so lets see if it works. I am new hunter to colorado. I have recently been station at fort carson after a deployment to Afghanistan and this will be my first hunting season. It is one of my favorite this to do in my free time when the army lets me have it. I have hunted most of my life in missouri, so Colorado is a big adjustment for me. I hunt with both by rilfes and bows. I prefer archery because of the challege, but for my first hunts will most likely use a rifle. In addition I don't have any hunting friends here and I'm trying to figure this out on my own. I don't really care what species I harvest, I want to get out there (of course I would prefer elk, mule deer or pronghorn). I would even be willing to acompany somone on a hunt to learn the ropes and cant afford a guided hunt. I went into the Colorado dept of wildlife in inquire about licences, this did nothing but confused me. The worker told me that because I didnt have any points I would not like be able to hunt and I  had to put in for a draw by Feb to hunt in the fall. I would like to hunt on fort carson, so I went to the office here on post and they told me to go to Colorado dept of wildlife. So I am still lost. As you know the base of my situation I will list a few quick questions below to increase my knowledge. Thanks you for reading.

-Is it true that if I dont have points I can't hunt?

-Can you purchase over the counter tags? (species/gender)

-Locations of local hunting workshops and seminars?

Critter's picture
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!Moderator
Location: Western Colorado
Joined: 03/26/2009
Posts: 4433
Welcome to the forums.  The

Welcome to the forums. 

The first thing that we need to find out is do you have a hunters safety card?  It is required to buy a license here in Colorado if you were born after 1949.  If you do no matter what state you are good to go, if not then you need to get one.  Also if you haven't already you need to pick up a big game guide book either at the division office or just about any store that sells licenses.  Also the Colorado Parks and Wildlife web site has all the information that you need and a lot more.  I don't know were the office worker that you talked to came up with the February draw thing but the actual deadline for the draw system here in Colorado is April 3   

As for hunting on Ft. Carson the Colorado Parks and Wildlife control the number of permits and if you want to hunt a buck deer you will need preference points to draw a tag.  However if a doe would suit your needs then you should be able to draw one of those tags in the draw.  Other than that there are a lot of tags available in the draw (all deer tags are draw only) that you can draw with no points. 

Now if you are talking elk, there are a lot of units in the state that the bull tags are over the counter and if you want to archery hunt then most of the otc tags are either sex.  As for hunting around Colorado Springs I don't have the foggiest idea of where to go but there are other members here that should be able to give you a hand for that.  

WishIWasHunting's picture
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!
Location: Brighton, CO
Joined: 01/31/2011
Posts: 700
Welcome to the forum and

Welcome to the forum and thanks for your service.  I think you will find that there are many helpful individuals on this site that provide lots of useful information.  Between this website and the DOW website, there is an abundance of great information that should get you squared away.  

There must have been a failure to communicate, because that was a lot of bad information from the DOW employee.  First a couple questions for you?  

1.  Do you have a Hunter's Education card?  If you took hunter's safety in Missouri, Colorado honors certifications from other states.

2.  How long have you been stationed at Fort Carson?  It costs more and can be more difficult to get limited draw licenses if you are a non-resident.  Since you are in the military, you do get a special exemption.  Here is the relevant text from the Colorado Big Game Regulation Brochure:


These are the requirements to qualify as a Colorado resident to buy a hunting


1. You must live in Colorado at least six consecutive months immediately before

applying for or buying a license, and must intend to make Colorado home

(except No. 2 and No. 3 below). The residence address you give to buy or apply

for a license must be the same as on your Colorado income tax return.

2. A valid Colorado driver’s license or Colorado ID is proof of residency if

it was issued at least six months prior to buying a hunting license. If your

ID or driver’s license was issued or renewed less than 6 months prior

to purchasing a hunting license, you must provide documentation that

proves you have been a resident for the required six month period.

3. U.S. military personnel and military personnel of U.S. allies on active duty

in Colorado under permanent orders and their dependents. This includes

people who were Colorado residents when they entered the military and

keep Colorado as their home of record, and their dependents (with Colorado

as their home of record). Also included are personnel of the U.S.

Diplomatic Service or diplomatic services of nations recognized by the

U.S. assigned here on permanent active duty orders and their dependents.

Active duty does not include reserve status or National Guard."

Now for your answers.

1.  You absolutely can hunt big game in Colorado without any preference points.  On this page, under the Preference Points Required section, you can find the minimum number of preference points that were required to draw specific licenses last year.  Keep in mind that these are only the minimum number of preference points required.  Just because a license did not require any preference points to draw does not mean that you are guaranteed to draw that license with zero preference points.  Figuring out your chances of drawing a particular license is more complicated, but knowing the minimum required preference points is good enough for now.  The CO Big Game Application draw deadline is 4/3/2012.  If you do not have a hunter's safety certificate, you will need to get one before that date if you wish to participate in the draw.  

2.  There are Over The Counter (commonly referred to as OTC) licenses available for Elk (Archery, 2nd Season Rifle, and 3rd Season Rifle) and antelope (Archery only).  Besides OTC licenses, certain licenses are available as Leftover Licenses.  These are licenses that were left after the draw process takes place.  In the Big Game Regulation Brochure referenced above, licenses with an "*" next to them made it to leftovers last year.  OTC and leftover licenses can be purchased at DOW offices and many retailers (Walmart, sporting goods stores, etc.).  OTC licenses are available for purchase starting 7/10/12, and are unlimited (there is no limit to the number of OTC licenses that will be sold in a given year).  Leftover licenses are available starting 8/14/12 until they sell out.  You do not have to participate in the draw process in order to purchase OTC or leftover licenses.  

3.  If you would like help with the draw process, here is a link to some seminars put on by CDOW to help with the application process.  Some have already taken place, but there are still a few left before the deadline.  

Hope this helps.  As away as you come up with more questions.  If you don't get the response you require, you can always search old posts on this website.  There is lots of good information already out there.  Good luck.  Keep us posted on your quest.  

exbiologist's picture
Location: Colorado
Joined: 09/19/2008
Posts: 2397
Great responses

Lots of good info above my post.  Just wanted to say welcome to BGH and point out some other options for you.  

I wouldn't be stuck on hunting in just one area, especially since you're new.  There are lots of places that you can draw with 0 points, and several others you can draw with a 2nd choice.   It doesn't look like you can draw the Fort Carson hunt, but I wouldn't give up on a chance or four to deer and elk hunt this year.  

Among your many options:  limited draw only licenses (take advantage of these by applying now), leftover licenses and over the counter licenses.  The guys above laid out the main options, so I'll just throw in a few tidbits here.

Use the April's draw deadline to apply for limited elk and deer licenses.  There are no OTC deer licenses, but there usually are a few leftovers for bucks and does.  You can generally have two licenses for each species, one male license, one female license (but only in certain units).  Take full advantage of these options.  

You didn't mention whether or not you bowhunt, so I'll mostly just stick with your rifle options. With 0 points, you'll have a hard time getting a great 1st season license, but I'd apply to some of the better 0 point units anyway.  Shoot for a place that offers either sex licenses, not just bull licenses.  Assuming you don't draw, consider using that application for some either sex 4th season options, many of which are very good and undersubscribed.   For my deer draw, I'd shoot the best 0 point unit I could come up with, but really hang my hat on drawing one of the few 2nd choice options that are out there.  Hint:  stay off the Front Range units and you'll have a better hunt.  That 2nd choice unit should also have leftover list B cow tags so I could combo the hunt if need be.  Consider looking into leftover doe deer tags too, but there aren't many in good public land units.

And then buy an antelope preference point if you think you'll be here for the next 8-15 years.

SGM's picture
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!
Location: Canon City, Colorado
Joined: 08/13/2011
Posts: 1147
AttackRed1, Welcome to BGH

AttackRed1, Welcome to BGH and you picked the correct site for good info. The other fellows have given you some very good advise. I am also stationed at Fort Carson and understand the Colorado rules can be a bit hard to understand. Hunting on Fort Carson can be very good but can also be a huge pain in the @ss even if you draw a tag. Give me a call in my office @503-0078 and we can set up a place and time where we can met and I will sit down with you and go over the whole deal or if you prefer send me a PM and we can talk. You have until 03 April to get your tags in so you have time.

Location: Denver
Joined: 10/16/2009
Posts: 70
Red1 and SGM - Thank you both

Red1 and SGM -

Thank you both for your service!

Red1 - a couple more things you'll discover when comparing things here to Missouri.

As Exbio noted, the front range units, that is those units along and directly west of I-25 and roughly up to the continental divide aren't real productive for big game due to the crowds.  Get further west and the crowds aren't nearly as bad.  The downside is its really hard to simply do a day trip.  You generally need to commit a minimum of a couple days, and be prepared to camp at 8'500+ feet in Sept-Nov (snow, wind, brrrr, etc.).  Most hunters who live along the front range  generally commit 4 to 7 days at a time or longer.

Now the good news.  A HUGE portion of Colorado is national forest and BLM land, pretty much all open to hunting and camping.  Keys here:  Don't camp directly where you or others may plan to hunt.  Also safer to camp closer to a paved road in case a blizzard happens to roll in.  Another biggie: try to hunt as far from open roads as possible but also understand that, unless you want to pay someone with horses to pack out your meat, you very well could be packing an elk out in pieces on your back (figure 5 trips). 

Understand that habits of mule deer and elk bare little resemblance to those of whitetail.  There habitat preferences change from summer, through fall and into winter.  Weather, the greeness of their food sources, water, and especially hunting pressure will all affect their location / elevation.  Even in the western units, on public land expect hunting pressure anywhere the roads and trails are open to 4x4s and ATVs.  Ideally, you want to hunt at least a mile from any open road.  If you can position yourself to ambush game being pushed by others, all the better.  For elk there is some excellent reading on CDOW's website under the Elk Hunting University section.

Adequately scouting a western unit on foot in advance of the season is helpful but rarely practical if you live 3 to 6 hours away.  However, I've found Google Earth to be extremely useful in identifying and "flying" drainages and benches that look promising.  You can also see where the hunting pressure is likely to come from, and where the animals are likely to escape to.  Keep in mind that a herd of elk will quickly run a mile or further if pressured.

Weather and survival: Above 8,000 ft., the weather can do almost anything here year round, and September - November are probably the months when people are at the greatest risk of being caught off guard.  I pack assuming that I'll be in the woods for possibly a couple nights with very cold weather.

Picking a unit and season to hunt:  As others have stated, you can go with a limited draw tag, and some require no preference points.  You can also get OTC licenses for bull elk in many units (deer tags are all by by draw).  Learning to interpret the statistic reports on CDOW's website will help you answer the tough questions about which season and which unit.  The system is a pain to learn and requires time (its taken me about 10 years and I still get confused).  Any successful DIY hunter in Colorado goes through this learning process, and understands that hunting in Colorado is all about the planning.  Take a look at the stat reports and come here with your questions.  Be patient -- it will start to make sense over time.

Optics and weapon:  Good binos are essential (the best you can afford or borrow).  Most shots are probably 75-150 yards.  I wouldn't go much lighter than a 270 or 30-06, and I wouldn't let anyone tell you that you absolutely must have a big magnum.  What is absolutely key is shot placement in the vitals.  Trailing a wounded elk or deer that dives into steep timber can really, really suck.

Good luck and thank you again!





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