Youth Preference in Colorado
In Colorado, there are great opportunities for youth to collect points and hunt in great units each year. The state of Colorado does a pretty good job in providing preference for young hunters as an incentive to get them out in the field and give them a great chance to successfully harvest an animal early in their hunting experiences. So how does this work?
Youth in Colorado receive preference during the annual draw for regular rifle season anterless elk and antelope tags and either-sex and anterless deer tags. Archery, muzzleloader, RFW, bull, buck, early season and late season tags don't qualify for youth preference. If it's an A-ist tag, it's probably excluded from youth preference. However, there are still many great tags in great units that youth will get preference for.
Colorado sets aside up to 15% of all eligible tags for youth. To qualify, youth applicants need only follow a few simple criteria. First, youth must be aged 12 to 17 (youth who are 11 can apply in the draw so long as they will be 12 by the time they will be hunting in the field). Second, their entire application can only list eligible hunt codes. A youth application can list up to 4 choices, just like the adult application, but all choices must be youth preference eligible hunt codes. A preference point code listed as a first choice on a youth application is a valid and eligible choice. The other thing to keep in mind is youth receive preference for only their first 2 choices, but all four choices (if provided) must be eligible hunt codes.
Most eligible hunt codes are undersubscribed for youth preference as well. That means there are more tags allotted for youth preference than applicants. With that in mind, it is possible to collect a preference point for your youth hunter as a first choice on their application and still be able to pull their tag with a second choice. This is true for units that require 1 or 2 points for the general public as well. By examining the draw results published by the state on the DOW website, you can discern how many youth perference tags where drawn for any given hunt code and determine whether or not a second choice will likely be successful.
For my son, we are planning on collecting a point each year and going for a cow tag in a great unit each year as a second choice. Then when he's 18 and no longer qualifies for youth preference we'll cash in his points on a great hunt for bull. He'll have 6 points to spend, which won't get him a tag in the most highly sought after units in Colorado. But 6 points will still get him a great hunt somewhere.