Application Period for Colorado Big Game Licenses Begins

Photo courtesy of Colorado Parks and Wildlife / Wayne D. Lewis.

Hunters hoping to draw a big game license in Colorado in 2023 are urged to review the changes in license requirements and fees in the 2023 Colorado Big Game brochure.

The application period will end on April 4 at 8 pm MT.

Hunters are encouraged to submit their applications early to avoid complications or delays. Get prepared ahead of time so that if problems do arise, CPW staff members have ample time to assist you. Visit the hunting statistics web page for information from previous draws to help maximize your draw potential.

For a good overview of what’s in store, watch CPW’s “What’s New” video for the 2023 big game seasons.

Important information for hunters to take note of this season includes:

Qualifying licenses
Hunters must purchase a 2023 qualifying license to participate in the big game draws. All qualifying licenses are available beginning March 1 and must be purchased or put into your online shopping cart before applying for all big game licenses or preference points. A 2022 license is not a qualifying license for 2023.

Limited license allocation and preference point requirements changes
The three-year preference point average used to determine the high-demand deer, elk, bear, and pronghorn hunt codes that fall into the 80/20 allocation split has been modified to a rolling three-year average updated annually, with a one-year lag. For more, see “Nonresident License Allocations” on page four of the big game brochure.

Mandatory testing for chronic wasting disease
CPW will require mandatory submission of CWD test samples (heads) from all deer harvested during rifle seasons from specific hunt codes. Hunters that harvest a deer in the specified hunt codes must submit their deer head to a CPW submission site for testing. There will be no charge for mandatory testing. Get more information about where and how to submit a CWD sample:

Voluntary CWD testing for 2023
Testing fees for voluntary submissions will be waived for all moose statewide and all deer from hunt codes that were not selected for mandatory testing but are within the same GMUs that were selected for mandatory testing. Voluntary submissions are accepted annually statewide. See page 22 of the “Deer” section of the big game brochure for a list of the mandatory GMUs and page 13 for more about CWD.

License surrender period
Customers who are successful in the primary or secondary draw will be provided with a short period when they can decide to surrender their license if they no longer want it, receiving preference point restoration to the pre-draw level, a refund of the license fee and removal of the license from the customer’s account. See page eight of the big game brochure for more details.

Youth preference draw reminder
If youth enter more than one hunt code on their application, all hunt codes must be youth-preference-eligible and/or youth-only to qualify for youth preference.

Eligible hunt codes for youth preference are limited license hunt codes for:

  • Doe pronghorn
  • Antlerless and either-sex elk
  • Antlerless deer

Any hunt code with a “K” in the season is a youth-only hunt code, such as D-F-043-K2-R. See “The Draw(s): Youth Draw Preference” on page 17 of the big game brochure for more information on youth hunting.

Archery clothing suggestion
Archery deer, elk, moose, and bear hunters are encouraged, though not required, to wear fluorescent orange or pink during the overlapping archery and muzzleloader seasons to help address safety concerns. The overlap for these seasons is September 9 – 17, 2023. See page 15 of the big game brochure for more information.

Plan your hunt
If you have questions about setting up your accounts, planning your hunts or applying for licenses, call center agents and hunt planners are available Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. MT at 303-297-1192. Hunting resources are available at:

Be sure to read the “What’s New” pages in the big game brochure and the sheep and goat brochure to get a full list of game management unit-specific changes for 2023.

“The Colorado Big Game brochure is a must-have resource for planning a hunt, and it’s available at all CPW office locations and online,” said CPW Public Information Officer Joey Livingston. “We encourage all hunters to apply early and check their online accounts to ensure their contact and credit card information is current. Hunters will receive email updates on their draw results and the status of their payments.”

*Note to hunters: CPW harvest data from 2022-2023 will not be available until mid-March.

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