Buying a Elk License

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Where Can I Buy an Elk Hunting License?

Colorado is like a huge playground for the avid hunter, especially for big-game hunting enthusiasts as it offers several license options to choose from. You can obtain more than one elk license to make the most out of the hunting season, apply as a group, or purchase one as a gift to give to someone else.

To make sure the hunting activities are balanced across the state and big-game populations remain within healthy numbers, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife has divided the state into 185 Game Management Units (GMUs). Through this system, the state offers licenses that are only valid for a particular species, sex, GMU, hunting season, and method of harvest (archery, muzzleloader, or rifle); which are all specified in the license hunting code.

So there are basically three ways to get an elk hunting license in Colorado:

1) License Drawing System

This is a process that awards licenses to hunters for specific GMUs and dates through a limited preference-point based drawing system. Applications for these permits need to be submitted by the first Tuesday of April, and the options available include public or private-land-only licenses and Ranching for Wildlife (RFW) licenses. There’s also a Leftover Draw, which gives unsuccessful first draw applicants another chance at the limited licenses that are left once the primary draw is completed.

The CPW will be implementing a new paperless process for hunting license applications in 2018, thus making 2017 the last year in which paper application forms can be mailed in.

2) Over the Counter Licenses (OTC)

There are also OTC licenses for the archery (either sex or antlerless) and the second and third rifle seasons (bull elk only) for units that are not limited. Sales begin in mid-July and can be purchased at any CPW’s office, by phone at  1-800-244-5613, or at authorized agents. These OTC licenses are unlimited in number can be acquired by both residents and non-residents until the day before the hunting season starts. Once the season begins, they are only available at CPW offices, except for the archery and plains-elk licenses which can still be purchased at any hunting license agent.

Additionally, a limited number of OTC licenses are available on a first come, first-serve basis, called licenses “with caps.” They are sold online, by phone at 1-800-244-5613, or at CPW locations and license agents. Available for residents and non-residents as well.

3) Leftover Limited Licenses

These are the limited licenses remaining after the draw and leftover draw processes. They are open for sale in person and by phone (1-800-244-5613) at the beginning of August. These are sold by different methods at different license agents once they become available, so is best to contact the agent of your choice for details. Or you can also get them online at the CPW website.

What Do I Need to Buy a Colorado Hunting License?

  • A current and valid photo ID
  • Proof of hunter education
  • For residents, proof of residency
  • A Habitat Stamp

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