View Full Version : Questions About Colorado Big Game Hunt

January 4, 2009, 10:47 PM
A friend moved and isn't far from Rifle Colorado. We've been trading phone calls and emails and he says the Elk and Mule Deer hunting are fantastic.

I'm going to start doing some research to go big game hunting in the Rifle Colorado area. I have a safe full of rifles so that's not a problem.

Any help with these questions would be much appreciated before I head to the state's Fish and Game website:

1. As long as I'm there I'd like to hunt as much big game as I can. Do I need different tags for Elk, Mulies and White Tail and if so how expensive are they for a non resident? Can I shoot first and buy tags later or do I have to buy the tags first?

2. Does the Rifle Colorado area have a season on Black Tails, Pronghorn and Mountain Lions as well?

3. I love to flyfish. Is there a really fine fly fishing river in/near Rifle for trout and/or cut throat???

I'm open to advice for how to plan and execute a successful multi-species Colorado big game hunt. I don't need a guide service or access to land. My buddy has land to hunt and he's already figured the game out and bagged some nice animals. I just want to have some knowledge of the area and game species and what to expect before I go out next fall. Plus if I can catch some trout on a fly while I'm there that's the cherry on the sundae!

January 4, 2009, 10:58 PM
Onehole... You will be shocked at the licensing/tag fees I bet! Them good hunting states are real proud if their game critters...

January 4, 2009, 11:19 PM
first thing i'd do is try to google COLORADO/FISH AND GAME ect ect you (should) eventually find the state site that lays out all the laws. like the guy above me said lots of times the difference between resident and non resident hunting licences is a huge increase in green paper.

January 5, 2009, 12:08 AM
You must already have a tag to hunt any species of game.As I recall.all deer licenses are a draw.There are incredible deer trophies in some parts of the state,and not so big ather parts.Might be genetics/minerals.I think Rifle is a big rack area.I'm talking over 24 in of spread and some,well you wouldn't believe me if I told you.An unsuccessful draw gains you a preference point.It may take 5 or 6 preference points to get a buck deer draw.
The deer are Mule deer.There are a few white tails in Co,but around Rifle,they will be mulies.
The elk population around Rifle is strong.I believe you can get an over the counter bull tag.In many areas,you can apply for a cow tag also.The state is divided into Game Management Units,and each one has a number.The specific rules for that GMU can be found on the Website
You will be required to show a Hunter Safety Card to get a tag.

I think it is early April the applications must be in.

There is a CD or DVD available from the DOW that shows all GMU's and statistics on harvest.

" Bugle" magazine and "Colorado Outdoors"(the DOW mag) might be good reads.Good luck!

Yeah,there is fishing!.I think lion hunting is a draw,and Pronghorn us for sure.Pronghorn will usually take preference points,and the season is late sept/first Oct.
My suggestion,it is most likely you can get an elk tag.Elk hunting takes preparation and work,especially if you get one.Unless you have a great deal of time and money,key in on an elk hunt,and bring a little trout stream gear for a diversion if you need it.That will keep you busy!!

January 5, 2009, 01:09 AM

Thanks a million! That is exactly the info I was looking for from somebody with experience like yourself before I start my heavy duty research! Now I know where to focus my efforts. My buddy has been telling me to come Elk hunting. I'm sure the reason is because that's the one big game animal I can buy a tag for over the counter. He tells me the bull Elk have great racks in Rifle.

It would be nice to bring the flyrod along as well. I may even put in for some preference points for one or more of the other game animals as a long term plan assuming I'm going to really enjoy Elk hunting and want to go back. If I get drawn maybe I can treat myself one year and bag an Elk and one other big game animal at the same time.

Now I'm off to the state website to check out the tag fees and license fees to see how much Colorado wants to steal from me in exchange for the privlige of bagging one of its Elk!! :barf:

January 5, 2009, 09:54 AM
Hurry up , I don't know about Colorado but you need to apply in Jan for Wyo. Not neccessary for over the counter but....

January 5, 2009, 10:25 AM

Yes you can hunt deer and elk at the same time; however you can not hunt deer during the first rifle elk season. Muzzle Loader, Archery, and rifle combined seasons are available to hunt both deer and elk in. You will spend pretty close to $900 just for deer an elk tags if you want to chase bull elk and buck/doe deer.

The elk tag is $526 for bull or either sex and $251 for a cow. Deer and Pronghorn tags are $316 regardless of sex. Then you have a habitat stamp of $5 per tag but maxes out at $10, plus a $3 application fee per species. Then there is a fee that if you haven’t applied before in Colorado before you get charged, usually it is cheaper to buy the Small Game Hunting license than to pay that fee.

Yes, it isn’t cheap to hunt here if you are not a resident. Plus to get good tags in areas for the trophy class animals here you will need several years of preference points built up over years to hunt those areas. There are always Landowner Permits, but they are really expensive as the owner of those vouchers can charge whatever he/she wants to for the privilege of hunting on their property. Usually to hunt private land you have to be guided as well.

If you want to get your feet wet in Colorado hunting just get a cow tag for elk since there is a lot of public land near Rifle and large cow herds that need to be thinned. Get in as good as shape as you possibly can because you will be hunting at least 7000 feet above sea level and up. Put in your applications for elk, deer, pronghorn, moose, and bear by April 7th to make the draw. Remember there are plenty of OTC tags available for hunting elk and deer in that area, so if you don’t draw you can still hunt.

January 5, 2009, 02:30 PM

Thanks for more great local knowledge about Colorado hunting and for the link. Based on what you and HiBC have told me it looks like I'll plan for a Bull Elk hunt with rifle with an over the counter tag purchase or a land owner tag (that's probably what my buddy had in mind anyway) and possibly enter the lottery just to get some preference points in case I want to go back another year and hunt the late combo season. For now persuing a quality bull Elk will be enough of a thrill (and expense!). I know $596 is a lot of money for an elk tag but I'm fortunate enough to be able to afford it. It's a shame it's not less for other hunters that can't. Frankly I thought it might be more but by the time I add in my airfare and other fees this hunt will still cost plenty but it's not like I'll be doing this every year. I would love the chance to hunt a nice bull elk at least once in my lifetime and there's not time like the present as long as I have a buddy living in rifle Colorado.

Thanks to all for the great local info and it coming if anybody has any other info or ideas to share.

January 5, 2009, 03:37 PM
I know $596 is a lot of money for an elk tag but I'm fortunate enough to be able to afford it. It's a shame it's not less for other hunters that can't.

If it was less you couldn't even find an elk. If you have never hunted elk country on opening day on public land you wouldn't know what I'm talking about. Sounds like a War is going on, and you hear gunshots at least 1hr before legal light. Last time I went first season I couldn't move much over 100 yards in any direction and not spot some hunters orange. It is crowded to say the least, especially in the prime areas for elk around the Craig and Meeker.

January 5, 2009, 03:49 PM
I have ideas, having lived, hunted and fished in CO for over 27 years.

Great Elk herds in the Flattop and White mountains. Taylor is right about opening day on public land and the herd around Meeker too. Great herd between Hayden and Craig.

I'm a life long flyfisherman. Write me an email and give me specifics, I will tell you where to go get the fish.

January 5, 2009, 04:11 PM
You have some options when you apply for a license.You get a first choice,and a second choice .If you get your second choice,you still get a preference point.You may apply for a preference point.You still have to send money,but you will get a refund check for most of it.You will have an option"If I do not draw,send me an over-the-counter bull tag"

If at all possible,your buddy needs to have a place picked out before you apply for your license.Try to bring your flyrod maybe in September.Do a little scouting,see the counry,the leave might be real pretty.Bring your sweety,have a picnic.

Driving around looking for a place opening day is a bad plan.

Don't have too high of expectations.Your first self guided hunts are about having a good time and building a foundation of experience.Its like fishing a new lake.The dream trip is probably a horse pack in.
I skipped last year,but year before,soon as we had our tent set up at 9000 feet,a storm hit.All night long whiteout with blue flash zip crash lightning on top of us.Over 2 feet of snow in the morning.You can get 60 MPH winds.Or it can be Tee-shirt weather.It is a trick to cover all bases and still have a packable outfit.
A good plan,if you have the money,is a pair of Garmin rhinos with the GPS feature.The GPS will not work in a storm.Have a map and compass,too.

No clear mountain stream is safe from giardia.Filter pumps don't work when the check valve freezes :-) Have fun!!!
Timing and herd movements count for a lot.Ranging 12 miles in a day is no big deal for an elk.You could be a week early or a week late.

January 5, 2009, 05:17 PM
All the info you have sounds very interesting to us also. Here on the east coast it's hard to grasp all the tag issues to go along with all the different areas to boot. It makes it complicated to the average guy looking for information without some helpfull folks like the ones that have helped here unless of course you use a outfitter that knows.

January 5, 2009, 09:46 PM
More great info!!!

Waterengineer, thanks for the generous offer and local hospitality. I'll send you a PM as I get closer to figuring out when and exactly where in Rifle I'll be hanging my hat.


Thanks for the advice. Most of my hunts are unguided so I appreciate your advice in that regard. I'm a guy that enjoys doing my homework and studying topos and sattelitte images and making advance scouting trips to places and hearing from guys like you before I plan a hunt. To me the planning and scouting is part of the hunt and besides helping ensure success doing it right also makes the trophy that's bagged really rewarding - at least to me.

My buddy knows the area and has had success with the elk already so I won't be heading into this area with the help of some local knowledge from a guy that's already enjoyed success.