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Colorado Elk Hunting


Colorado Elk Hunting 2024

Available Colorado Elk Hunts --- Search HF Aventures

As we go into the 2024 season, this might be the most pivotal moment in Colorado elk hunting history. With wolves being dumped on the landscape and adding more pressure to an already overpressured landscape with recreational hiking, biking, and camping, six elk hunting seasons, and struggling populations, this could be the tipping point. If we learned anything from Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, it’s that in the short term when wolves get dropped in an area with abundant elk populations, it takes time for elk to adapt to the new predator. Elk numbers will drop dramatically in the next 5 to 15 years, and then once elk relocate to less conducive hunting grounds for the wolves and become more in tune with wolves and the way they hunt, numbers will start to rebound some.

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Colorado Elk Draw

This year might be the last we have over-the-counter tags for elk as well. There has been much discussion and debate about limiting OTC tags for non-resident archery and rifle hunting going forward in 2025. This is not a surprise with most other states limiting OTC tags by either going to a draw or placing caps on the amount of non-resident tags issued annually. The Commission is still deliberating and going over recommendations and comments before they finalize anything. This change will not take place until the 2025 season, but for now, it might be wise to build a point for Colorado elk even if you haven’t been building them in the past so you are prepared to draw in 2025.

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As for the present, Colorado had a rough winter for the 2022/2023 season. Portions of Northern Colorado, primarily the northwest, took a hit and are recovering from calf loss and poor recruitment. Overall, population loss was not substantial enough to worry about steering clear of this region, but it will slow growth for the coming years. The rest of Colorado as a whole is doing well. It is still the king of opportunity elk hunting with a plethora of hunts available from 0-6 points. This primarily comes from muzzleloader, first, and fourth rifle hunts on units that have OTC hunts for archery, second, and third rifle hunting. Since all muzzleloader, first, and fourth rifle hunts are on a draw basis only, these hunts in units with OTC hunting can be easily drawn. These types of hunts are not trophy hunts by any stretch of the imagination, but most areas have great elk populations and with a little bit of grit and determination, hunters should be able to find elk on public land.

Colorado has a handful of units in the state that are managed for higher trophy potential. These units by no surprise will garner 25+ points to draw and that point total goes up every year with point creep. Units 1, 2, 201, and 10 are the top areas for trophy potential but can still be difficult to turn a bull exceeding 340". Units 40, 61, and 76 are the next tier down for trophy potential and are primarily 320-330" type hunts and still require up towards 20+ points for most hunts on them. Colorado is not the best state if you are in search of a trophy 340-350" class bull, especially if you don’t already have a pile of points to work with.


Typically, you can use the amount of points required to draw as a good rule of thumb for trophy quality for that unit. There is not a big difference in trophy quality in hunts requiring 0-5 points regardless of weapon. The biggest difference is going to be in the amount of public/private land, amount of wilderness, population of elk, etc. Once you get to hunts that are taking 10-20+ points to draw, there is usually a better chance at harvesting a mature bull, but be careful as some of these hunts could take higher points because of popularity or season dates and might not necessarily hold bigger, more mature bulls. Pay close attention to the trophy expectations in our unit profiles as some of these areas will have the same trophy potential as other units that take a fraction of the points. One thing to consider is that everything changes and some units that once were great may not be anymore and living on past years’ reputations.

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Colorado is not a state to try and chase down the best units for trophy elk hunts if you haven’t been playing the game for close to 30 years. It is one of the best opportunity states for putting good elk tags in your pocket every few years and hunting more often. Only time will tell how the elk population will be affected in the future with all the uncertainty surrounding the wolf introduction, but for now, we can say that Colorado is one of the best states to hunt elk in. If your hunting experience isn’t defined by inches, then Colorado is among the top states to apply for elk.

Colorado Elk Season Dates

Hunt 2024 Dates
Colorado Archery Elk Hunt September 2-30
Colorado Muzzleloader Elk Hunt September 14-22
Colorado First Rifle Elk Hunt October 12-16
Colorado Second Rifle Elk Hunt October 26-November 3
Colorado Third Rifle Elk Hunt November 9-15
Colorado Fourth Rifle Hunt November 20-24

Self-Guided DIY Colorado Elk Hunts

Over the last 20+ years, we've collected hunting research and data, so join Huntin' Fool today and access the best research tools for hunting elk in Colorado, including 3D Maps, Draw OddsConsultations, and much more. Go on more hunts with better information!

Private Land, Semi-Guided, and Guided Elk Hunts 

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Application Deadline for Colorado Elk

Online applications must be submitted by 8 p.m. (MDT) on April 2, 2024.

Our magazine, which is available in print and online, has everything in one location - application info, draw details and odds, fees, hunter requirements, point structure, age restrictions, youth information, weapon restrictions,  other tag opportunites, hunt planning, and much more. If you would like access to all of our research, join today!

Colorado Elk Hunting Fees 2024


2024 Colorado Non-Resident Fees  
Fee Cost
Annual Small Game Hunting License (required to apply) $98.92
Youth Annual Small Game Hunt License (under age 18, required to apply) $1.46
Habitat Stamp (required for adults to apply) $12.15
Draw Application (per species) $10.00
Post Draw Fees (if successful)  
Elk - Bull, Cow or Either-Sex $803.39
Youth Big Game (Elk, Deer, or Antelope) $122.91


Colorado Elk Hunting Articles from Huntin' Fool Magazine