Applications for big game licenses open March 1; hunters urged to study changes

Hunters hoping to draw a big-game license in Colorado in 2020 are urged to study up on all the changes in license requirements and fees prior to the March 1 opening of the application period (March 1 to April 7 at 8 p.m. MT). For a good overview of what’s in store, check out CPW’s "What’s New" video for the 2020 big-game seasons.

Important changes for hunters to take note of include:

Adjustments to license fees

The Future Generations Act, which passed through the Colorado Legislature in 2018, allows CPW to adjust resident license prices to keep up with the cost of inflation. This year, that means an increase of 1.3% or 30 cents to a few dollars on most licenses (bear license prices have actually gone down).

Qualifying licenses

In order to participate in the Big Game primary draws and new secondary draws, hunters will need to purchase a qualifying license. If you applied for big game in Colorado last year, you recall that all applicants, including youth ages 12-17, must buy a qualifying license prior to applying for the big game license draw. Qualifying licenses include: spring turkey licenses, annual small game, annual resident combination small game/fishing, veteran’s lifetime resident combination small game/fishing, senior combination small game/fishing (new) and disabled first responder combination small game/fishing (new). Please note that any remaining leftover limited licenses that become available on a first-come-first-serve basis (Aug. 4 at 9 a.m. MT) and over the counter licenses (Aug. 6 at 9 a.m. MT), will not require a qualifying license.

Valid dates for annual licenses have changed

2020 annual licenses go on sale March 1, 2020, including qualifying licenses, at the same time as big game applications. 2020 annual licenses, including qualifying licenses, are valid March 1, 2020 – March 31, 2021. Remember, to be a valid qualifying license for the big game draws, the license must be valid for the 2020 license year.

Secondary draw replaces the leftover draw in 2020

Hunters who don’t draw a license in this year’s primary draw should be aware they still have the opportunity to draw a license in the new secondary big game draw. The secondary draw replaces the old leftover draw.

New in 2020, most elk, deer, pronghorn and bear licenses not issued through the primary draw will now be made available in a secondary draw that is open to anyone, whether they applied for the primary draw or not. Secondary draw applications are accepted June 5 to July 7, 8 p.m. MT.

Visit CPW’s website for more information about the new secondary draw.

Review your application and account to avoid issues with your draw

Apply early to avoid any issues with your application. Once you have submitted your application, please review your emailed receipt to confirm the hunt codes you entered. Application modifications can be made to a submitted application before April 7, 2020 at 8 p.m. MT.

To avoid any issues if you draw a license, make sure your credit card on file is up-to-date and that your email and mailing address are correct when you apply. The payment deadline for the primary big game draws is June 19, 2020.

Mandatory testing for Chronic Wasting Disease 

CPW is continuing mandatory Chronic Wasting Disease testing for selected game management units as part of its Chronic Wasting Disease Response Plan (see for more info). There is no charge for mandatory testing. Eighty-nine GMUs will be tested in 2020, mostly in western Colorado. If you’re hunting deer (either sex) in these units, and you harvest, you will need to bring your head in to a CWD submission location so Colorado Parks and Wildlife technicians can collect a lymph node sample for testing. A complete list of GMUs where mandatory testing will be required is available on page 21 of the 2020 Colorado Big Game Brochure.

“It’s very important all hunters read the 2020 Colorado Big Game brochure, which is available at all CPW office locations and online,” said CPW Public Information Officer Travis Duncan. “We’re encouraging all hunters to check their online accounts to ensure their contact information is current and credit card information is up-to-date. Then check your account after the draw to see the draw results, your preference point levels and the status of your payments,” Duncan said.

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*Note to hunters: CPW harvest data from 2019-2020 will not be available until mid-March.