Changes coming to the Big Game Draw in Colorado in 2023

It’s getting to be that time of year again. The days are getting longer, Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his burrow and last week Colorado Parks and Wildlife dropped the latest rendition of their Big Game Brochure teeing off the application season for Colorado big game licenses. We’re here to highlight a number of updates to that process to get you ready for the primary draw application deadline on April 4th.

Non-Resident Cow Elk License Price Increase

The first big one to highlight for non-resident cow elk hunters is the increase in price for those licenses. In previous years non-residents could get discounted cow elk licenses, a savings of almost $200 when compared against the bull or either sex elk license. In 2023, that discount no longer applies. The price for cow elk licenses now align with the other versions and will set you back $760.99 in 2023 and that doesn’t include the cost for the habitat stamp, qualifying license or the application fee should you chose to put in for the primary draw.

License Allocation Update

Another thing to be aware of heading into the draw are the changes to license allocations between resident and non-resident hunters. Colorado has long been known for generous license allocations for non-resident hunters. This latest update begins to change that dynamic a bit. The general rule that guides license allocations in Colorado is the 65/35 split. 65% of the licenses for a given hunt code go to residents and the remaining 35% go to non-residents. The exception to that rule were instances of “high demand” hunt codes, which, prior to this year, were defined as hunt codes requiring an average of six or more resident preference points for the draws conducted from 2007 to 2009, and it was specific to only deer and elk hunt codes. Hunt codes that fell into the category outlined above moved the license allocation from 65/35 to 80/20. The two big differences for 2023 are that pronghorn and bear licenses have been added to that high demand category and the data used to determine what is a high demand hunt code has also changed. Moving forward, the data used to determine what constitutes a high demand hunt code is a three year rolling average with a one year lag where it took six or more points for a resident hunter to be awarded that license. This will mean more licenses for residents and less for non-residents for hunt codes impacted by this change. CPW has indicated hunt codes affected by this change with a “+” symbol in the sex column for the associated hunt code. This change is something to watch out for both residents and non-residents now and on into the future as point creep pushes more hunt codes into the high demand category.

License Surrender 

Another couple dates to be aware of if you are awarded a license you either can no loner use or no longer want. CPW provides a surrender period after both the primary and secondary draws. The deadline for the surrender period associated with the primary draw is Monday, June 5th at 11:59 PM Mountain Time. The deadline associated with the secondary draw is Monday, July 10th at 11:59 PM Mountain Time. This surrender period allows you to get the license fee back and have your preference points restored to the pre-draw level. Seeing as the secondary draw neither uses nor awards any preference points, that isn’t as big a deal but getting your preference points back could be impactful depending on how many you stand to lose if you drew a tag in the primary draw. This also highlights that if you miss the payment deadline outlined in the brochure, you stand to lose both the license and the preference points you used to draw it. For the primary draw in 2023 this payment deadline is June 16th at 11:59 PM Mountain Time.

We hope the information above was pertinent and useful as you head into the 2023 big game application season for Colorado. CPW starts accepting online applications starting on March 1st . Results are expected out May 30 th - June 2 nd . Here’s hoping for excitement as those results filter into your email inbox in late spring, with that excitement being amped up even more so as the leaves start to change in the fall of 2023.

Posted: February 25, 2023

Written By: Mike

About: Mike lives on the outskirts of Denver. Please forgive him for that. Probably like a lot of you, he wishes he lived on a couple hundred acres in the middle of nowhere with no neighbors to bother with. But he wasn't born with a trust fund and until his writing career takes off, he'll continue to punch the clock until the weekend when he can escape the grind of the modern world for a while.

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