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Elk and Deer Hunting Requirements

Deer and Elk hunting requires a license for archery, muzzleloader and rifle seasons. Bristlecone Lodge  offers easy access to several prime hunting Southern Colorado areas.

Some of the best big game hunting is located in Southern Colorado. This portion of the state, bordered by the towns of Crested Butte and Colorado Springs to the north, is home to a couple of what are considered the best elk hunting locations anywhere. As the fall season approaches, late summer big game hunting for elk, plains deer, moose and pronghorn hunting is still plentiful. You can hunt elk and deer in Southern Colorado with an over the counter, or OTC, license at selected Game Management Units, or GMUs, administered by Colorado Parks and Wildlife:​


• Deer and elk (west of I-25 and Unit 140) — Aug. 26 – Sept. 24
• Plains deer (east of I-25, except for Unit 140) — Oct. 1-27, Nov. 8-30, Dec 15-31

Muzzleloader (draw only)

• Deer and elk — Sept. 9-17
• Plains deer (east of I-25, except for Unit 140) — Oct. 14-22

Rifle (elk and deer)

Limited elk (1st season) — Oct. 14-18
Combined deer and elk (2nd season) — Oct. 21-29; (3rd season) — Nov. 4-12; (4th season) — Nov. 15-19
Plains deer (east of I-25, except for Unit 140) — Oct. 28-Nov. 7
Late plains deer (east of I-25, except for Unit 140) — Dec. 1-14

What You’ll Need in Order to Hunt Elk and Deer

A valid Colorado Hunting License is a must. Both residents and non-residents from the ages of 18-64 are required to pay $10 for a Habitat Stamp when applying for a license, which varies in costs in accordance to the big game you are hunting.

Elk (cow): $46 for residents, $481 for nonresidents
Elk (bull or either sex): $46 for residents, $641 for nonresidents
• Deer: $31 for residents, $386 for nonresidents
When you apply for a hunting license you’re going to be required to provide the following

• Valid photo ID
• Hunter Education card
• Proof of residency
• Habitat stamp
• Social Security number (for new customers age 12 and older)

Elk Hunting at Its Best

Colorado is regarded as the state with the most hunting available in the entire Rocky Mountains. One of the best draws for the over 150,000 hunters who seek big game in the state is elk. It doesn’t hurt the situation that Colorado is home to the largest herd in the nation with close to 300,000 of these majestic animals roaming over millions of of acres of both private and public lands.

Where to Find Them

Here in Southern Colorado there are a couple of GMU’s that offer hunters a close to 20 percent chance of shooting an elk.

GMU 74: During the second and third rifle seasons in October through November, this unit located in San Juan and La Plata counties is a premier choice to hunt elk, especially if you’re willing to look for them in the canyons where thick timber helps to conceal them. Be advised that the majority of the land here is public which makes it incumbent upon you to make sure other hunters are aware of your presence and activities.

• GMU 65: You’re going to need to be willing to hike up to several miles to find elk in the unit which encompasses four Southern Colorado counties — Montrose, Ou Ray, Gunnison and Hinsdale. Best time to hunt this unit is the second and third rifle seasons. Due to the sheer size of Unit 65 you’re going to need to be prepared to be in it for the better part of a day. Be aware that if you are on public land there are many private ranches in this unit so make sure you have a map so you can identify them.

Deer Hunting Abounds

Hunters roaming the various GMUs of Southern Colorado are likely to encounter numerous deer — everything from white tails, mule deers and timber bucks. Mornings and evenings are generally the best times to find them. The mule deer population has been on the rise in Colorado for several years now. Look to find bucks in groups during the second deer hunting season, and then mingling with the does during the third season.

A Great Place to Stay

Located west of Colorado Springs in Teller County, Woodland Park in a Home Rule Municipality sitting at an elevation of almost 8,500 feet. One of the premier lodging destinations for hunters in this portion of the state’s Southeast Region is Bristlecone Lodge. The lodge is located on four pristine acres of mountainous terrain and in close proximity to over 50 GMUs where elk and deer can be found in abundance.

GMU 48: Located near Leadville, the unit is a great place to find elk, especially around Lake Creek and Twin Peaks. The elevation is high — close to 9,000 feet — so most of the deer population is concentrated in the lower elevations.

GMU 481: Another unit located at a high elevation, elk can be found here as high as 10,000 feet. Search for them above the timberline near Frenchman Creek and in the Heckendorf State Wildlife Area.

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