Available Colorado Elk Hunts – Search HF Aventures
Colorado is definitely the alpha dog when it comes to elk numbers and hunting opportunities out west. With an estimated population of 280,000, Colorado is a must for any and all elk hunters. Regardless of your weapon of choice or how many points you have, Colorado has a hunt for you. It is about the last state that has over-the-counter rifle elk tags available to non-residents on an unlimited basis. The biggest question is for how long. It is no secret that Colorado is also known for crowded elk hunting experiences, and with other states restricting this type of hunting for non-residents, it is pushing most of them directly to Colorado to get their elk hunting fix. The Grand Mesa is the latest to fall victim to this as the once OTC archery tags are now limited quota draw tags starting this year. This will likely continue to be the trend throughout the state the next several years with more and more residents putting pressure on CWP to restrict non-resident hunters from participating in OTC elk hunts. Our advice is to take advantage of the system while you can still purchase that tag and get out on the mountain hunting before this opportunity is gone.
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Colorado Elk Draw
Not all elk tags in Colorado are sold over-the-counter. All of the muzzleloader, first, and fourth rifle hunts are on a draw basis only, so a lot of the easier to draw hunts come in the form of one of these three types of hunts that have over-the-counter archery, second rifle, and/or third rifle seasons on them. In addition, there are also units that have limited draw hunts for every season that have similar trophy size. There are hunts that are managed for better trophy quality and are often the ones referenced that currently take 25-30 years of applying to draw. Buyer beware on these hunts, though, as even these hunts are not guaranteed trophy hunts and oftentimes do not have any larger bulls than some of the OTC units, just less hunting pressure. Even though we list more quality hunts than any other publication, there are many more hunts out there that can be found with a little research and optimism.
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Not all elk tags in Colorado are sold over-the-counter. All of the muzzleloader, first, and fourth rifle hunts are on a draw basis only, so a lot of the easier to draw hunts come in the form of one of these three types of hunts that have over-the-counter archery, second rifle, and/or third rifle seasons on them. In addition, there are also units that have limited draw hunts for every season that have similar trophy size. There are hunts that are managed for better trophy quality and are often the ones referenced that currently take 25-30 years of applying to draw. Buyer beware on these hunts, though, as even these hunts are not guaranteed trophy hunts and oftentimes do not have any larger bulls than OTC units, just less hunting pressure. Even though we list more quality hunts than any other publication, there are many more hunts out there that can be found with a little research and optimism.
Archery OTC units are becoming fewer and fewer every year and will continue to do so as the overflow of hunters who have to find new units to go to will increase the hunting pressure in other parts of the state and continue the cycle. The southwest portion of the state is the perfect example of this with all the archery OTC units becoming limited quota draw units the last three years. The trend continues this year with the Grand Mesa units 41, 42, 411, 421, 52, 521 being eliminated from the OTC archery options and going to limited draw. With another group of units no longer available for the OTC hunter, this will likely further concentrate more hunters into other units, causing more crowding and frustrated hunters. However, there is a silver lining as this increases the draw potential for archery units, which realistically will require 0 points to draw or can possibly be drawn who choose to apply in these units will have a more enjoyable experience. There are some really good units out there for archery elk that are OTC or for second and third rifle hunts that take very little to no points to draw. Hunters need to enjoy these hunts for what they are, which is the chance to pursue elk every year or two without having to build or spend points.
Typically, you can use the amount of points required to draw as a good rule of thumb for trophy quality for that unit. There is not a big difference in trophy quality in hunts requiring 0-5 points regardless of weapon. The biggest difference is going to be in the amount of public/private land, amount of wilderness, population of elk, etc. Once you get to hunts that are taking 10-20+ points to draw, there is usually a better chance at harvesting a mature bull, but be careful as some of these hunts could take higher points because of popularity or season dates and might not necessarily hold bigger, more mature bulls. Pay close attention to the trophy expectations in our unit profiles as some of these areas will have the same trophy potential as other units that take a fraction of the points. One thing to consider is that everything changes and some units that once were great may not be anymore and are living on past years’ reputations.
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Colorado is not a state to try and chase down the best units for trophy elk hunts if you haven’t been playing the game for close to 30 years. It is one of the best opportunity states for putting good elk tags in your pocket every few years and hunting more often. Only time will tell how the elk population will be affected in the future with all the uncertainty surrounding the wolf introduction, but for now, we can say that Colorado is one of the best states to hunt elk in. If your hunting experience isn’t defined by inches, then Colorado is among the top states to apply for elk.
Colorado Elk Season Dates
Hunt 2023 Dates Colorado Archery Elk Hunt September 2-30 Colorado Muzzleloader Elk Hunt September 9-17 Colorado First Rifle Elk Hunt October 14-18 Colorado Second Rifle Elk Hunt October 28-November 5 Colorado Third Rifle Elk Hunt November 11-17 Colorado Fourth Rifle Hunt November 22-26
Self-Guided DIY Colorado Elk Hunts
Over the last 20+ years, we’ve collected hunting research and data, so join Huntin’ Fool today and access the best research tools for hunting elk in Colorado, including 3D Maps, Draw Odds, Consultations, and much more. Go on more hunts with better information!
Private Land, Semi-Guided, and Guided Elk Hunts
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Application Deadline for Colorado Elk
Online applications must be submitted by 8 p.m. (MDT) on April 4, 2023.
Our magazine, which is available in print and online, has everything in one location – application info, draw details and odds, fees, hunter requirements, point structure, age restrictions, youth information, weapon restrictions, other tag opportunites, hunt planning, and much more. If you would like access to all of our research, join today!
Colorado Elk Hunting Fees 2023
2023 Colorado Non-Resident Fees Fee Cost Annual Small Game Hunting License (required to apply) $93.78 Youth Annual Small Game Hunt License (under age 18, required to apply) $1.40 Habitat Stamp (required for adults to apply) $11.50 Draw Application (per species) $10.00 Post Draw Fees (if successful) Elk – Bull, Cow or Either-Sex $760.99 Youth Big Game (Elk, Deer, or Antelope) $116.50 Colorado Elk Hunting Articles from Huntin’ Fool Magazine
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