Here is the breakdown of rules, regulations and extra information that pertains only to Elk Hunting in Colorado.  

Need to Know

NEW! Unit 128 Hunt Dates. Unit 128 in the Plains Rifle Season now has hunt dates that are different from the rest of the plains rifle season.

NEW! Unit 70 Hunts Split. Hunts in units 70, 71, 72, 73, and 711 have been split into two separate licenses.  Read the hunt tables to ensure you apply correctly.

NEW! Lighted Nocks. Hunters may now use lighted nocks on arrows.

Archery: Only legal hand-held bows are allowed in archery season.

Muzzleloading: Muzzleloading elk licenses are limited, available through the draw. See the hunt code tables for details.

Only legal muzzleloading rifles and smooth-bore muskets are allowed in muzzleloading seasons - click here to go to Hunting Methods - Then click on Legal Hunting methods for more Information


Bull (Antlered):A male animal with antlers at least 5 inches long.

Cow (Antlerless): A female animal with no antlers or a young male with antlers less than 5 inches long.

Either Sex: A legal bull or cow. Be sure to know unit point restrictions where applicable

How to Apply for a Preference Point

To apply for a point, enter E-P-999-99-P as your first-choice hunt code on your application.

You cna gain a preference point as a first choice on your application to use another year. You can use your second through fourth choices on the same application to apply for a license. Submit only one application per species per year.

You must pay the full license cost, even for a point. If you apply for a point only, your money, minus the $3 application fee and $10 Habitat Stamp Fee, will be refunded. Hunters may also be charged $40 if you don't meet the criteria for a free preference point

Criteria for free Preference Point - The point fee is waived still for youths, lifetime license holders, free senior annual fishing license holders and Colorado residents who are in the military on active duty outside of Colorado.

Nonresidents must pay at least $454 to apply for an elk preference point, plus a $10 Habitat Stamp Fee. If your second, third or fourth choice is for bull or either sex, or if your unsuccessful option is for an unlimited bull license, you must pay $619, plus the $10 Habitat Stamp Fee

How to Read Table Symbols

An Asterisk (*): in the "Sex" column indicates units that had licenses left after last year's drawing

A Plus (+): in the "Sex" column indicates hunt codes for which an average of at least six preference points are needed for a Colorado resident to draw that license. This is calculated on a 3-year period ending with the 2009 drawing

Elk Season Dates

Archery - Aug. 29 - Sept. 27

Muzzleloader - Sept. 12 - Sept. 20

Plains Rifle - Sept. 1 - Jan. 31

First Rifle - Oct. 10 - Oct. 14

Second Rifle - Oct. 17 - Oct. 25

Third Rifle - Oct. 31 - Nov. 8

Fourth Rifle - Nov. 11 - Nov. 15

What is a "Combined Season"?

The term combined season refers to the second, third and fourth rifle seasons, when both deer and elk hunters are in the field at the same time.

Antler-Point Restrictions

1. An Antler Point - is a projection of antler at least 1 inch long and which is longer than the width of its base.

2. A Brow Tine - Is an antler projection, minimum of 5 inches long, on the lower half o f the antler.  It usually starts not more than 8 inches from the animals skull.

Four-Point Rule Bull elk taken in all seasons must have four points or more on one antler, or brow tine of at least 5 inches long GMUs: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 47, 52, 53, 54, 55, 59, 60, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 85, 86, 131, 140, 161, 171, 181, 191, 211, 214, 231, 301, 361, 371, 411, 421, 441, 444, 471, 511, 521, 551, 581, 681, 691, 711, 741, 751, 771, 751, and 861.

No Restrictions There are no antler point restrictions for any season in GMUs: 1, 2, 10, 20, 29, 39, 40, 46, 48, 49, 50, 51, 56, 57, 58, 61, 69, 76, 84, 201, 391, 461, 481, 500, 501, 561, 591, 682, 791, or units east of I-25 (except unit 140).  Antlers must meet the minimum length of 5 inches long.

Ranching for Wildlife There are no antler-point restrictions on Ranching For Wildlife properties, but antlers must meet the minimum length of 5 inches long.

Transporting or Leaving Antlers at Taxidermist

If you leave the head of your harvest with its antlers at a taxidermist, you must get a receipt from the taxidermist, with date delivered and description of antlers before you take the carcass home or to a commercial processor.

Head or skull plate, with both antlers naturally attached, must accompany the carcass of bulls in camp or in transit, even when the scrotum or testicles are used as evidence of sex.

How to Get More than One Elk License


Coming Soon

Over-The-Counter Rifle Elk Hunts

1. Do Not Apply for these licenses in the draw

2. Over-The-Counter, Unlimited: Use CDOW application booklet, or look on Unit Pages to find OTC Unlimited Units.

3. Over-The-Counter With Caps: The Following licenses are available on a first-come, first-served basis starting Aug. 5th 2014. 

Unit 54 - Either-sex licenses are available for second season, Oct. 18-26.  These are List A Licenses.

These Licenses are eligible for the youth late season elk hunt program.

Gunnison Basin Elk Hunt Information

1. Archery elk licenses are limited in units, 54, 55, 551; they are not available for purchase as over-the-counter tags.  Archery tags for these units are available through the draw.

2. Either-sex, over-the-counter licenses with caps are available in unit 54 during the second rifle season.  Cow licenses are available through the draw.

Over-the-counter bull licenses are valid only during the third season in unit 54.  Cow and either-sex licenses for third season are available through the draw.