Guide to the Colorado 2019 Bear, Deer, Elk Draw and How To Apply

Booking Update

Going into March, we have the following hunts open. These hunts are draw sensitive, so please contact us as soon as possible if you are interested.
4 Open Guided Spots 1st Rifle Season – Elk/Bear – Great hunt for those focused on elk or interested in adding the bear opportunity. More comfortable weather than later rifle hunts.
2 Open Guided Spots 2nd Rifle Season – Elk/Deer – Good combo hunt. Chances of drawing buck tag are close to 100%.
2-4 Open Guided Spots 3rd Rifle Season – Elk/Deer – This has been a phenomenal hunt the last several years. Opportunity of harvesting both species has been 75%+. Harvest rate of either species has been over 100%.
2-3 Open Guided Spots 4th Season – Elk/Deer – Elk tags are easy to draw. Deer are 5-6 preference points for a non-resident. Opportunity on bulls this last year was close to 100%. Lodge hunt.

2019 Draw Guide

The 2019 Big Game Draw Deadline is April 2nd at 6:00pm. You can apply online starting March 1st. It is best to complete your application a couple weeks before the deadline. The last couple days of the application period can bog down the state’s website and make the process slower.

Before you start, you will need the following handy:
1. The hunt codes you wish to apply for.(they are below for all of my hunts)
2. Your Hunter’s Safety card
3. Payment Method

The CPW launched a new application system in 2018. You now need an email to apply, and you will need to create an account. To start the process and create an account go here:
Apply online at the fish and game website right HERE.

If at any point you run into a bug in the system or confusion, call a regional CPW office. They are proactive in solving issues. The contact info for these offices is here.

For all OTC hunts, please purchase your tags in July/August via the online system. This mitigates any logistics issue that are common for folks that attempt to purchase the tags when they arrive in Colorado.

The guide below covers the units we hunt for bear, elk, and deer. It covers all of our 2019 deer/elk/bear bookings. I also have guides for rocky mountain goats here and then an overview on Colorado’s big horn sheep here.

To start, I will repeat the annual mantra… apply every year even if you aren’t planning to hunt. Gaining preference points is essential to optimizing your future opportunities. This even goes for folks that historically have focused on hunting over-the-counter units. I could write a book about it, but the short and sweet is that hunters that are hunting 1-4 point units are getting the best, consistent opportunities. High point hunts (10pp+) aren’t worth the wait, and hunters who solely focus on OTC are missing opportunities to have higher quality hunts every 1-3 years. Get in the game! pun intended…

When I give a minimum preference point number below, I am making an estimated guess at the number of points it will take for a non-resident to have a 95%+ chance of drawing a tag. These guesstimates are based on historical statistics, and incorporate any changes I have heard about regarding future quotas. We never know the actual probability of drawing until the draw occurs, but these estimates are close year-over-year.

Definitions:

OTC – Over-the-counter – Purchase these tags online or in retail locations. Tags must be purchased before the season starts! You do not need to apply through the draw for these tags.

Slam Dunk – Close to a 100% chance you will draw this tag, if you apply. Things can always change, but this means in past years I have had all my hunters get this tag.

PP – Preference points. You gain these when you do not draw your first choice hunt on your application and pay to gain a preference point. In future years, PPs give you a better chance of drawing hunts.

PP Gainer Hunt – These are draw hunts that you can draw while retaining your preference points for future years. If you apply for these hunts with the hunt code as your first choice, you will certainly draw the hunt but will lose your accumulated points. If you put the preference point code as your first choice and the hunt code as your second choice, you will likely draw the hunt and still keep your preference points. These are great hunts for hunters that are gaining points for a future high-point hunt but want a decent hunt in the meantime.

Hunters with many accumulated points, BE CAREFUL! You must make sure PP Gainer Hunts are not your 1st choice on your app. You will be blowing points when you really don’t need to.

Preference point codes:
Deer – D-P-999-99-P
Elk – E-P-999-99-P
Bear – B-P-999-99-P

September Hunts

    Archery Bear – Sept. 2nd to 30th.

OTC
Given the ease of drawing the rifle tag for these same dates (below), I do not recommend this tag. Draw the rifle tag. You can always shoot a bear with a bow on a rifle tag in Colorado.

    Early Rifle Bear – Sept. 2nd to 30th. Code: B-E-012-O1-R

Slam Dunk
PP Gainer Hunt
0 PP – 100%
The population of black bear is booming and tags have never been easier to get. There are a lot of bears in our area. In 2019, the CPW reduced nonresident tag prices to only $100!

    Archery Deer Either Sex – Aug. 31st to Sept. 29th. Code: D-E-025-O1-A

Slam Dunk
0 PP – 100%
Low harvest rate, but a great opportunity to chase slammers in the high country. Stalking to bow range in timberline terrain is tough and don’t expect to see a lot of bucks. Be in good shape, ready for a challenge, and have fun.

    Archery Elk Either Sex – Aug. 31st to Sept. 29th.

OTC
Our most popular archery hunt.

    High Country Buck Hunt – Sept. 7th-15th. Code: D-M-012-E1-R

8-11 PP minimum (volatile due to low 10 tag quota)
One of the best opportunities in the West to both have a decent rifle opportunity at a 185″+ buck and do it in the most beautiful high country there is. This is a wilderness hunt, you are going to earn a big buck. Not a 100% success-rate hunt. Hunters do sometimes get skunked. This is a trip for a hunter looking for a true mountain hunt. It’s physically difficult and can be physiologically trying due to low deer density.

All muzzy hunts are Sept. 14th through the 22nd

    Muzzy Either Sex Elk – Code: E-E-025-O1-M

2-3 PP minimum
One of our highest success-rate hunts.

    Muzzy Buck Code: D-M-025-O1-M

Slam Dunk
0 PP – 100%
75% chance as 2nd choice
Fun hunt for someone wanting to hunt big deer in the high country but won’t be able to draw a high country rifle tag.

1st Rifle Season – Oct. 12-16

    Concurrent Bear – Code: B-E-012-U5-R

OTC as long as you have a big game tag.
This is a new hunt started in 2015 in an attempt by the Colorado Fish and Game to handle the overpopulation and associated problems of black bears in Colorado. A great idea on their part. The 1st rifle version of this tag is the latest bear tag that I recommend. You don’t have the same opportunity as the September hunt, but you still have a decent opportunity.

    Bull – Code: E-M-011-O1-R

Slam Dunk
PP Gainer
0 PP – 100%
1st season elk hunts are popular elk hunts in Colorado. In high elevation areas like ours, it is a great time to hunt bulls in their summer range in reasonable weather. This hunt is the least weather dependent of the rifle elk hunts. It is not uncommon to catch the tail-end of the rut during this season.

2nd Rifle Season – Oct. 19-27

    Concurrent Bear – Code: B-E-012-U5-R

OTC as long as you have a big game tag.
By late October, we see few bears.

    Bull – OTC

More weather dependent than 1st rifle season. With late season dates this year the hunting should be good due to colder temps and deeper snow.

    Buck – Code: D-M-025-O2-R

Slam Dunk
PP Gainer
0 PP – 100%
The toughest rifle season to harvest a large deer, but a deer-focused hunter can still have a tremendous hunt. Big deer are typically holding to the timber.

3rd Rifle Season – Nov. 2-10

    Concurrent Bear – Code: B-E-012-U5-R

OTC as long as you have a big game tag.
Not recommended.

    Bull – OTC

Cold temps = elk out more during shooting light. Should be a good hunt, but be ready for cold temps and snow!

    Buck – Code: D-M-025-O3-R

0-1 PP minimum.
0 PP – 90%
1 PP – 100%
Later season dates are presenting a golden opportunity to hunt muleys during the beginning of their rut with only 0-1 preference points.

4th Rifle Season – Nov. 13-17

    Concurrent Bear – Code: B-E-012-U5-R

OTC as long as you have a big game tag.
They’re hibernating.

    Bull – Code: E-M-025-O4-R

0 PP – 100%
Typically Slam Dunk, volatility towards 0-1 PP minimum due to low quota.
An almost guarantee of deep snow and great elk hunting. As long as you can deal with the elements, this will be a productive hunt.

    Buck – Code: D-M-025-O4-R

5-6 PP minimum.
5 PP – 60%
6 PP – 100%
Trophy hunt.

If you have any questions, just give us a call or shoot us an email.

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Cliff Gray Hunting Guide

By Cliff Gray

Cliff is a registered outfitter in the State of Colorado, guiding and outfitting over 100 hunters a year for elk, bighorns, goats, bears and mule deer across wilderness areas in Colorado and British Columbia. He has years of experience hunting big game via remote backpacking and horse/mule packing.

Cliff is a private pilot, certified wilderness first responder, and an official measurer for both Boone & Crockett and Pope & Young records programs.

Starting March of 2018, all new content not directly related to our Flat Tops Wilderness Bear/Deer/Elk hunts will be published on our TrueHunts.com website.

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