Colorado / Rules & Regulations

Colorado is a state that most archery hunters should be applying in. Averaging around 115 total P&Y entries each year, no state puts more entries in the book annually. Colorado is a state whose game management program is focused mostly on hunter opportunity and it leads the way in elk, mule deer, moose, bighorn sheep & mountain goat entries year in and year out. Despite catering heavily towards hunting opportunity, it turns out giant archery mule deer and bigger moose than any other state! It is also the only state that offers archery rocky mountain bighorn hunts and an archery mountain goat hunt, improving the odds of drawing one of these coveted tags as a bowhunter.

New in 2019, Colorado will require applicants to purchase a nonrefundable $10 habitat stamp as well as either a $151.75 spring turkey license or a $81.75 annual small game license to participate in the big game draw or to apply for preference points. Additionally, Colorado will begin charging $100 per species to purchase a preference point for rocky mountain bighorn, mountain goat and moose. There are no preference point fees for elk, deer & pronghorn. Nonrefundable application fees for all species have increased from $3 to $9. These changes have drastically increased the cost to build preference points in Colorado, making it the second most expensive state in the Rockies to be building points in.

Fees & Deadlines

2019 Colorado Application Fees & Deadline

Nonresident License/Permit

Habitat Stamp (required)

Annual Small Game (required)




Rocky Mountain Bighorn*

Desert Bighorn*

Mountain Goat*


Preference Point**

Online App. Deadline (8:00 p.m. MST)

April 2

April 2

April 2

April 2

April 2

April 2

April 2

April 2

April 2

April 2












2018 Results Made Available



June 5

June 6

June 5

May 4

May 4

May 4

June 6


*If you participate in the hunt drawing, you will be charged a $9 nonrefundable application fee for each species you apply for. You will not be charged a permit fee unless you draw a permit.

**Rocky mountain bighorn sheep, mountain goat & moose only. There is no point fee for elk, deer, pronghorn or desert bighorn sheep.

Application Information

All hunting license applications for the draw are only available ONLINE (go to and click “Buy and Apply”) or BY PHONE at 800-244-5613.

Application deadline for all species is April 2. Nonrefundable application processing fee for all species is $9. Habitat Stamps are REQUIRED for hunters and cost $10; only one is required per person, per year for anyone ages 18–64. When you purchase your qualifying license in order to apply for the draw, a 2019 Habitat Stamp ($10) will automatically be added if you haven’t purchased one already and are ages 18–64. Habitat Stamps went on sale Jan. 8, 2019, and are nonrefundable, even if you are unsuccessful in the draw.

All applicants, including youth, must purchase a qualifying hunting license to apply for the big game draw. A spring turkey license or an annual small game license is considered a qualifying hunting license for a nonresident.

When you submit your application, you will ONLY be charged the application processing fee per species. Your credit card information will be kept on file and ONLY charged the license fee if you receive a license from the draw. If you opt in to pay the new Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, mountain goat and moose preference point fee, your credit card will be charged if you are unsuccessful in the draw.

If you’re successful in the draw your credit card on file will automatically be charged for the license you’ve drawn. It is your responsibility to check your account and pay for any license you draw. If CPW is unable to charge your credit card for your license, and you don’t pay for the license drawn by the payment deadline, your license will be surrendered and you will lose both the license and any preference points you used to draw it.. The payment deadline for sheep & goat is May 17. The payment deadline for elk, deer, pronghorn and moose is June 21.

Step-by-step guides for setting up your account & applying for the draw:

Preference Points

One preference point is awarded to those who are unsuccessful in drawing a license for a first-choice hunt code. Hunters can also apply for a preference point as their first-choice hunt code. Points accumulate unit you draw a first-choice license. You may apply for points only for any species except for desert sheep.

  • If you apply for a preference point hunt code as your first choice or are unsuccessful in drawing your first choice hunt, you’ll now be automatically charged a $100 nonresident preference point fee (rocky mountain bighorn sheep, mountain goat & moose only).
  • You’ll have the option to OPT IN or OPT OUT of paying the preference point fee while filling out your draw application(s). If you OPT OUT, you will not be charged the fee and will NOT acquire a preference or weighted point for 2019. This includes if you apply for a preference point hunt code as your first choice.
  • If you are issued a first-choice license, all accumulated preference points for that species are void and return to zero.
  • If you fail both to apply for a species and have not purchased a license for that same species during any given 10-year period, all accumulated preference points for that species become void.
  • Second-, third- and fourth-choice hunts don’t use or generate points.
  • The maximum preference points you can accumulate for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep or mountain goat is three. If you have three points for bighorn sheep or mountain goat and you fail to draw a first-choice license, you will receive weighted preference for that species:
  • WEIGHTED PREFERENCE POINTS increases your probability of drawing. It is calculated by converting your application number into a random draw number, then dividing that new number by the number of weighted points you have, plus one. This generates your draw order number. Applications are sorted by lowest draw order number to highest, with the lowest numbers drawing first. The preference point fee applies to weighted points.
  • Preference points don’t apply to desert bighorn sheep.

Refunds or Points Reinstatement

If you drew a license you would like to return, payment for the license is still required first. You can then return it for a refund or preference point restoration. You must relinquish your license and carcass tag at least 30 days before opening day of the season for which the license is valid. License must be accompanied by a completed request form obtained at a CPW location or the website. Most refunds are subject to a $15 processing fee. Preference points are reinstated to a pre- draw level, you do NOT receive an additional preference point for 2019.

Requests must be postmarked at least 30 days before the season starts. If there isn’t enough time to request a form, mail your license and carcass tag with a letter to CPW. It must be postmarked 30 days before the season for which the license is valid starts and mailed to CPW.

Nonresident License Allocations

Nonresident allocations for elk, deer & pronghorn are determined by the average number of preference points a Colorado resident needed to draw a specific license during a 3-year period that ended with the 2009 drawing. (Units with low numbers of available licenses may not have any remaining for nonresidents after resident licenses are drawn.)

For elk and deer hunt codes that required six or more points for a Colorado resident to draw, up to 20 percent may go to nonresidents. These hunts are designated in unit tables by a + under the SEX column.

For hunt codes that required fewer than six points for a Colorado resident to draw an elk or deer license, up to 35 percent may go to nonresidents.

Nonresident allocations may increase if licenses remain after all Colorado resident first choices have been drawn for that hunt code.

There is not a nonresident allocation limit for pronghorn.

Ten percent of limited moose, sheep and mountain goat licenses are allocated to nonresidents.

Group Applications

The group leader must apply first. All group members must enter the same person as the leader in order to go through the draw as a group. Priority is based on the member with the fewest points.

Hunter Education Requirements

Anyone born on or after January 1, 1949, is required to have a hunter education card to hunt in Colorado. A hunter education card is required to apply for or buy a license. Your hunter education card must be carried while hunting.

License Requirements

You can apply for one bighorn sheep license each year. You cannot apply for a Rocky Mountain bighorn and desert bighorn in the same year.

Bighorn Sheep

If you harvest a Rocky Mountain bighorn ram (must have a half-curl or more), you must wait five years (sixth year after harvest) before applying for another Rocky Mountain bighorn ram license. During the five-year waiting period, hunters may apply for ewe licenses, but cannot accrue preference points.

Desert Bighorn Sheep

If you harvest a desert bighorn sheep, you cannot participate in future desert bighorn sheep drawings.

Mountain Goat

If you harvest a mountain goat, you must wait five years (sixth year after harvest) before applying for another mountain goat license.


The lifetime bag limit for bull moose is one, except for auction, raffle or special management licenses.

Private Land

It is illegal to hunt on private land without first obtaining permission from landowner or person in charge.

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