Youth Preference in Colorado

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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.


Retired2hunt's picture

  CoMeatHunter - great tip! 


CoMeatHunter - great tip!  I had never thought of it but after reading your tip and then digesting what the Co DOW has on their web site I will be strongly be encouraging a neighborhood boy to possibly get involved into hunting. 

My sons and daughter are too old to take advantage of this... however, My wife is a "Big Sister" to a girl that has no father and needed another female figure to assist in guiding her through life.  She has a brother that is "too old" to have a Big Brother.  So I took it upon myself to take this young man under my wings and provide some outdoor experiences with him.  I took him on his very first fishing trip this past summer and he loved it... after catching several very nice
Rainbow and Lake Trout. 

After reading your hint I will be focused on getting this boy (not yet a young man) into hunting and taking advantage of the Youth Preference system here in Colorado.  I know I can make a difference with him.

Fantastic tip and thanks for bringing it to my attention!  Story and pictures to come in 2012 - guaranteed!




hunter25's picture

The youth preference here in

The youth preference here in Colorado has really helped to get my kids some quality hunting when they were younger. The only istake I made was not using the second choice and building preference points at the same time other than with antelope. It's funny though as my son was able to draw doe antelope tags three times as second choice youth but my daughter was not even successful once. However they were both able to cash in on cow elkm tags every year and get a bunch of extra hunting far into the late seasons when needed. I especially liked the 10 dollar fee as that saved me a bunch of money until they were old enough to pay for thier own tags. Just a few more years now and I will be able to start it again with my grandson. If ten more years counts as only a few because I know it will go by quickly.

ManOfTheFall's picture

Great tips to get the youth

Great tips to get the youth involved. Here in Ohio you have the youth Turkey season in the spring which is the weekend before the regular season starts. Then you have the youth deer gun season which is the weekend before Thanksgiving. There are also places throughout the state on public lands that will hold youth only hunts. You can find these youth hunts on the ODNR website. These are some great hunts to get the youth involved here in Ohio.

SGM's picture

Meathunter, I am glad you

Meathunter, I am glad you brought this up. This is one program DOW has done well with. Promoting hunting to our kids it vital to keep the sport alive and well. Another fact, at least in Colorado, is that the tags are reduced in price for youth hunter so that helps out the family as a whole. When my oldest boy turned 12 the state had just dropped the age from 14 to 12 so it was a real blessing to me that I got 2 more quality years of hunting with my son. Getting those preference points might not get you that super trophy area but sure will get you a highly sought after area and I would say a better than average shot at a 5x5 or better bull. I do not know a youth hunter or adult that would not be pleased with a nice 5x5.