Elk hunting is one of the most popular forms of big game hunting available in the United States, and Colorado is known for its enormous population of elk and for its ideal hunting grounds. Colorado is home to a thriving hunting community with plenty of opportunities for professional assistance, training courses, or guided hunting sessions. With its many hunting opportunities, however, come state regulations and laws regarding the boundaries of the sport.
Most big game hunting licenses in Colorado are by draw only, meaning that they are limited licenses available by application. Colorado is also the only state that offers bull elk licenses over the counter, which are available online, by phone, or at Division of Wildlife headquarters. Different licenses are required based on the type of hunt (trespass or private land), and based on game (bull elk, cow elk, bull deer, etc.). Licenses are limited to one per person per year and allow one elk.
Required along with any hunting license in Colorado are habitat stamps. These stamps generate funds to benefit Colorado wildlife, and longtime wildlife preservation. Habitat stamps cost $5 each, and are required annually when updating a hunting license. These are available at the Division of Wildlife Office, at retail outlets where hunting supplies are offered, or over the phone with DOW at 1-800-244-5613. Habitat stamps are not required for one-day licenses.
Any person applying for a big game hunting license must be 16 years or older. Hunters between the age of 12 and 15 years must be accompanied by a hunting mentor over the age of 18. Anyone born after 1949 must complete a hunter educational safety course sanctioned by the state of Colorado before applying for a license. Colorado does not accept education courses performed in other states.
In Colorado, hunters must wear 500 square inches of fluorescent orange visible in daylight. Part of this must cover the head, and it must be visible in all directions. Camouflage orange is illegal in Colorado. During archery season, bow hunters are not required to wear orange.
In Colorado, elk hunting must take place in 4-point zones. This will ensure the hunting of mature elk, and will provide better hunting for bulls ranging between 4 and 6 points. Guided hunting tours on private land offer area options.
Private Land Guide Outfitters
A hunter with any variation of the Colorado big game hunting license can participate. These hunts are performed on private land by designated professional guides. The areas have a guaranteed populace of elk but do not guarantee yield per hunter. Guided tours vary in length, from several days hunting and camping expedition to an entire week.
Trespass hunting requires a specific license, and is geared towards seasoned, experienced hunters. With this license there are designated areas in which the hunter is allowed to hunt unsupervised. These designated areas are not guaranteed to be highly populated and game is not ensured. Game yield is a maximum of one elk per hunter.
- elk image by Dennis Carrigan from Fotolia.com