Colorado Elk Hunting Regulations, Permits, and Costs

Explore America's Campgrounds

Elk hunting regulations can get confusing in Colorado. Do you want to hunt a bull or cow? How about a limited unit or an over-the-counter unit? Colorado's Big Game brochure is a great tool to have handy.


Elk hunting in Colorado is strictly regulated from the caliber of gun you can use (minimum .24 caliber) to the amount of hunter orange you must wear (minimum 500 square inches above the waist during firearms seasons). The best way to find all the regulations is in the Colorado Big Game brochure. It is available in late February on the Division of Wildlife's website.


A hunter can have multiple licenses from three lists. List A consists of one unlimited archery either-sex, one unlimited rifle antlered, a limited license by drawing or as a leftover license, Ranching for Wildlife or a landowner voucher. A hunter is limited to one license from this list.

Hunters can also have a List B license. This includes unlimited antlerless archery licenses, private-land-only antlerless and antlerless licenses for various units.

You can also purchase multiple licenses from List C. These include antlerless licenses for private land in units 391 and 461, unlimited either-sex plains licenses, Youth Outreach licenses and other licenses issued by the Division of Wildlife.

How to get a license

Licenses are available as either limited or unlimited. Limited licenses are available through a drawing. The application deadline is usually the first week of April. Some limited licenses, as well as unlimited licenses, are available from the DOW's Web site and at license vendors.


Colorado is divided into hunting units, and there are multiple seasons to choose from depending on if you want to hunt with a bow, black powder or rifle. Archery season usually starts first, at the beginning of September. Muzzleloader season is next. It coincides with the rut. Finally, the four general rifle seasons start about the second week of October and last from five to nine days. There are also private land tags and late rifle seasons that are run late as Jan. 31.


Licenses cost $46 for residents and $10.75 for resident youth hunters (ages 12 to 17). A nonresident bull or either-sex license costs $546, and a cow license is $251. Nonresident youth licenses are $100.75. There is a $3 application fee for limited licenses, and a $5 habitat stamp is required on the first two license purchases.