Hunting Public Land In Colorado: How To

Colorado is known for its vast habitat, large populations of big game, and for its history of great hunts, and one of the best options for your next outing is hunting public land in Colorado. The state has hundreds of hunting units, and many of them are within, or cross public hunting lands. Get a permit and tags for the upcoming season and you're sure to have a great hunt.

What you'll need:

  • verification of hunter safety 
  • Colorado hunting license
  • tags for the game you wish to pursue
  • hunting rifle or bow
  • hunting knife
  • 500 square inches of hunter orange jacket and hat (required for all rifle seasons)
  • game bags 
  1. Hunter Safety Certification. If you were born on or after January 1st, 1949 you must complete hunter safety, to hunt anywhere in the state, much less hunting public land. Moreover, you've got to carry your hunter safety certificate with you while you hunt. Stay safe and legal. Get it done.
  2. Decide what you would like to hunt. Small game, turkey, migratory and upland birds can be hunted in most states, so why not hunt some of the big game and exotic animals Colorado has to offer? Big game options include elk, deer, bear, pronghorn and moose. Mountain lions and Coyote make up some of the more exotic predator species, and mountain goats and sheep round out the game that can be hunted on public land in Colorado's unique habitat.
  3. Buy your permits and tags. For big game animals you can either buy your permit and tags over the counter, or you can enter the draw for hunts in restricted areas or seasons that may result in greater hunter success. Go online to the Colorado Division of Wildlife to purchase online or by phone.
  4. Plan your hunt. If you buy or draw a hunt for a specific Game Management Unit (GMU) go online to the Colorado Department of Natural Resources interactive map first, then scout the area in person to plan your hunt. Be sure to check the Game Management Unit for public land to hunt, otherwise you will have to work with landowners to be able to utilize your tags. Luckily, there are large areas of public land in Colorado, so finding a place to hunt once you've received your tags shouldn't be a problem.
  5. Check the Colorado proclamation or brochure. Colorado publishes guidelines for each game type on a yearly basis. Review it before you go out to hunt to be sure you follow all guidelines while hunting. You may also wish to check with the warden in charge of the area you will be hunting to verify any additional guidelines for hunting public land in Colorado. 
  6. Look up game recipes. One of the most rewarding parts of a hunt is being able to sit around the table and share what you've brought back from the hunt. Wild game is the ultimate in free-range food, so be sure you can handle the culinary tasks to follow.
  7. Notify friends of your plans. Before going out on the hunt, always inform others where you'll be and when you'll be back. Many of the public hunting areas in Colorado are vast, and becoming lost could be deadly.
  8. Enjoy your hunt. Getting out into the wild, especially on the shared public hunting lands protected by responsible presidents is a great way to get in touch with nature. It is a reminder of what we need to do today to protect public land for future hunters to enjoy. 

Resource:

Hunting Home – Colorado Department of Natural Resources