2022 Colorado Bighorn Sheep, Mountain Goat, and Moose Recommendations

There are a few knowns in the sheep/goat/moose hunting world: In places where you can buy tags the prices are increasing, in places where you have to draw tags they are becoming more difficult to draw, and population dynamics are always changing. 

Over the years we have guided our hunters to some of the biggest sheep/goats/moose in these units. Keeping a close eye on populations in different units is one of our favorite offseason hobbies as we daydream about being back in the mountains making a stalk. 

Colorado’s weighted point system can be difficult to understand, and in turn, folks waste years not strategizing properly. I highly recommend reading my Understanding The Colorado Sheep, Goat, and Moose Draw article before clicking Submit on your applications. 

The units I mention in this article are ones myself and staff are familiar with. I’m sure there are plenty of other really good units in the state but I am not overly familiar with them.

The draw period opens March 1st and closes April 5th.  Do not wait until the last day to apply!

If you are unsure how to put in for tags or points click HERE

If you draw a tag in any of these areas and would like to go guided, let me know! FTWG is able to guide in many of these units. The staff also works for other outfitters as contract guides in areas that FTWG is not permitted. I also know many reputable outfitters in these areas and can point you in the right direction

The biggest thing to remember when putting in for these weighted point draws is to APPLY EVERY YEAR!! Do not try to build points and then apply for the tag(s). Even at max points, your odds of drawing are low. Cumulative draw odds are way higher by year 10  than if you wait until year 10 to put in for the tag. 

 

Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep Units- **Note** only looking at rams 

S2:

2020 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 0

2020 resident tag(s) allocated: 3

2020 harvest success: 2/3

2021 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 1 rifle

2021 resident tag(s) allocated: 2 rifle

2021 Harvest Success: not published yet

2022 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 0

2022 resident tag(s) allocated: 3

Buzz- This unit is not for the faint of heart! The sheep are highly visible in the winter and spring and they disappear come summer through the hunting season.  My crew and I spend a lot of time in this unit as it also overlaps with goat unit G6. This is a backpack style hunt! Horses and mules won’t get you very far. Be prepared to hike to the back of drainages  just to turn right around and move to the next one. DIY hunters NEED to spend their weekends off scouting if they think they are going to have a chance at a mature ram. Be prepared to run into a lot of outdoor recreational traffic other than hunters.

Location- North of Vail and south of Green Mountain Reservoir. The Gore Range lies inside the unit

Quality/Quantity– Low sheep population; my estimate is around 15-20 rams. 1-2 in the 170” class

Success Rate-  Low for those that are unguided or in poor physical shape

FTWG rating- This year again is one of the top choices for a resident! With the additional resident sheep tag I think the combination of draw odds and quality of sheep makes this unit one to seriously think about applying for. Sorry nonresident hunters, this one isn’t for you this year. 


S11:

2020 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 1

2020 resident tag(s) allocated: 5

2020 harvest success: 3/6

2021 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 1 rifle

2021 resident tag(s) allocated: 5 rifle

2021harvest Success: not published yet

2022 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 1

2022 resident tag(s) allocated: 5

Buzz- I think the CPW has probably overestimated the sheep population in the unit. It could stand to have a couple tags cut.  6 hunters in the unit is a lot and can feel competitive at times. The Collegiate Peak Wilderness lies inside the unit. There are many 14ers so be ready to do some climbing! Outside of the wilderness, there are a decent amount of 4×4 roads that you can glass from. Depending on where the sheep are, there is a good chance you can truck camp.

Location- Northwest of Buena Vista and Southeast of Aspen

Quality/Quantity- The number of sheep is slowly decreasing but the quality is still good. 

Success Rate- Relatively high, but quite a few small rams that are easy to find get picked off each year.

FTWG Rating- This is, again, one of my top choices. The draw success is pretty high and success rates are good for those willing to put in the time and pass on small rams. 

S12:

2020 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 1 archery and 1 rifle

2020 resident tag(s) allocated: 7 archery and 5 rifle

2020 harvest success: 7/14 (2 with a bow)

2021 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 1 archery and 1 rifle

2021 resident tag(s) allocated: 7 Archery and 5 rifle

2021 Harvest Success: not published yet

2022 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 1 archery and 1 rifle

2022 resident tag(s) allocated: 7 archery and 5 rifle

Buzz- Has one of the highest sheep populations of any unit and really great quality! However, the draw is TOUGH! The sheep move around quite a bit and intense archery pressure can push the sheep into nasty terrain. 

Location- East of Buena Vista, west of Fairplay, and as far north as Breckenridge. 

Quality/Quantity- Lots of sheep and lots of great rams

Success Rate- Very high 

FTWG Rating- I rank this unit pretty low for the sole reason that getting a tag is extremely tough even with max points. 

S13:

2020 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 1 rifle

2020 resident tag(s) allocated: 2 rifle

2020 harvest success: 3/3

2021 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 0

2021 resident tag(s) allocated: 3 rifle

2021 Harvest Success: not published yet

2022 nonresident tag(s) allocated:1 rifle

2022 resident tag(s) allocated: 2 rifle

Buzz- Get ready to get your butt handed to you! The Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness area is inside this unit. It’s gorgeous country as you hike along the valley and you’ll be cursing it when you see a ram at the top of the mountain. The sheep herd was declining steeply for awhile but has leveled out. Because of the rough terrain, rams have the chance to evade hunters and can get old. This is a backpack style hunt! Be prepared to run into a lot of outdoor recreational traffic other than hunters.

Location- North of Crested Butte and west of Aspen. 

Quality/Quantity- The quality of rams is good but low populations  

Success Rate- Solely dependent on hunters physical ability

FTWG Rating- Pretty reasonable odds

S17:

2020 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 1 rifle

2020 resident tag(s) allocated: 5 rifle

2020 harvest success: 4/6

2021 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 1 rifle

2021 resident tag(s) allocated: 5 rifle

2021 Harvest Success: not published yet

2022 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 1 rifle

2022 resident tag(s) allocated: 5 rifle

Buzz- If drawing a tag is your main concern and quality is second, this might be the unit for you. The sheep population is lower than the CPW claims and can be tough to hunt. We recently found a honey hole that a lot of the rams are using 

Location- Northwest of Salida and southwest of Buena Vista

Quality/Quantity- Both quality and quantity are low

Success Rate- For hunters willing to get after it and hunt remote spots, you can get it done. 

FTWG Rating- I value this unit pretty high for the sole reason that draw success is relatively high. I would encourage a lot of scouting or hiring a guide!

S44:

2020 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 1 archery

2020 resident tag(s) allocated: 4 archery and 2 rifle

2020 harvest success: 0/7

2021 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 0

2021 resident tag(s) allocated: 5 archery and 2 rifle

2021 Harvest Success: not published yet

2022 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 1 archery

2022 resident tag(s) allocated: 4 archery, 2 rifle

Buzz- This unit is really unique! Rumor has it that the sheep in this area are actually escaped sheep that were in a transition pen and ended up thriving. This is not your stereotypical sheep country habitat. Hunters will be hunting in dense piñon/junipers and even dark timber. The last several years, many of the sheep spent most of their time outside the unit. This is an extremely tough unit to hunt with a bow. There are a lot of tag holders hunting a small area. I’ve heard many stories of multiple archers making stalks on the same ram at the same time. 

Location- North of the Frying Pan River, and east of Basalt. 

Quality/Quantity- Lots of sheep and quality is great! 

Success Rate- Success for archery is low, and in recent years, even rifle success has been terrible. The terrain, vegetation, and the fact that the sheep aren’t always in the unitmakes it a tough hunt

FTWG Rating- The draw success for archery is pretty high but the rifle draw is tough! 

S47:

2020 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 0

2020 resident tag(s) allocated: 2 rifle

2020 harvest success: 2/2

2021 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 0 

2021 resident tag(s) allocated: 2 rifle

2021 Harvest Success: not published yet

2022 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 0

2022 resident tag(s) allocated: 2 rifle

Buzz- The access in the unit is pretty good!  A few years ago, the sheep herd was hit hard by disease. 15 years ago, the hunting was comparable to current day S12. The numbers are coming back, though.

Location- East of Salida

Quality/Quantity- Numbers are low but bouncing back. Quality isn’t the greatest but the genetics are there. I wouldn’t be surprised if this unit bounces back to what it once was within the next 20 years

Success Rate- If sheep are close to the more accessible areas, success rates increase drastically

FTWG Rating- Pretty low on the list

S57:

2020 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 0

2020 resident tag(s) allocated: 2 archery

2020 harvest success: 1/2 

2021 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 0

2021 resident tag(s) allocated: 1 archery (this was a guaranteed tag to the 2020 draw recipient)

2021 Harvest Success: not published yet

2022 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 0

2022 resident tag(s) allocated: 3 archery

Buzz- Very visible sheep herd from the road as you travel on Highway 34 along the Big Thompson. Sheep often end up on private. Having an outfitter with access to private can be crucial.  Populations are down, but some slammer sheep come out of the unit. Be prepared to run into a lot of outdoor recreational traffic other than hunters.

Location- East of Estes Park and west of Loveland

Quality/Quantity- The numbers are down but big sheep

Success Rate- This is an archery only hunt so success is low. 

FTWG Rating- Low on the list

S58:

2020 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 0

2020 resident tag(s) allocated: 1

2020 harvest success: 1/1

2021 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 0

2021 resident tag(s) allocated: 1 (this was a guaranteed tag to the 2020 draw recipient)

2021 Harvest Success: not published yet

2022 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 0

2022 resident tag(s) allocated: 1

Buzz- The tag is also valid in S40. The S40 sheep herd is mostly on private and the S58 herd is mostly on public. The population is low but some massive sheep come out of the area. The sheep can often be seen from Highway 14 along the Poudre Canyon. 

Location- West of Fort Collins

Quality/Quantity- Numbers are low but big sheep

Success Rate- Low tag quotas so success can be skewed. Hunters should have opportunities

FTWG Rating- Low on the List

 

S59:

2020 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 0

2020 resident tag(s) allocated: 1 rifle

2020 harvest success: 1/1

2021 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 0

2021 resident tag(s) allocated: 1 rifle

2021 Harvest Success: not published yet

2022 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 0

2022 resident tag(s) allocated: 1

Buzz- This is my favorite unit but it’s also my backyard! There are a couple different sheep herds in the unit that use a wide array of habitats. The larger sheep are in the wilderness. Unsuccessful hunters have underestimated the remoteness of this unit. It is difficult to keep very close tabs on the sheep and rarely do we not know where the bigger rams are at all times. Oftentimes we use horses for this hunt. 

Location- North of Gypsum and south of Oak Creek. 

Quality/Quantity- Low density and pretty decent quality. There is a large population of smaller 7 year old rams. Keep an eye on this unit in the near future as there will be a lot of big rams

Success Rate- DIY hunters have low success rates and often settle for smaller rams. Consider going guided unless you have lots of time to hunt. Summer scouting does not do much for hunter success, as they are constantly moving. 

FTWG Rating- The draw odds aren’t the greatest but if you go guided you will get a sheep. This unit is for sure in my Top 5.

S66:

2020 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 1 rifle

2020 resident tag(s) allocated: 2 archery and 5 rifle

2020 Harvest success: 4/8

2021 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 1 rifle

2021 resident tag(s) allocated: 2 archery and 5 rifle 

2021Harvest success: not published yet

2022 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 1 rifle

2022 resident tag(s) allocated: 2 archery, 5 rifle

Buzz- This unit is no joke when it comes to topography. Luckily, there is pretty good access. The archery tags in the unit are a relatively new thing and the bow hunting pressure is changing sheep behavior. The sheep move quite a bit and can be hard to find.

Location- East of Leadville. 

Quality/Quantity- Good number of sheep and the quality is above average. 

Success Rate- Dependent on hunter’s physical abilities and amount of time you have to hunt. If you do not have a lot of time to take off I’d seriously consider hiring a guide!

FTWG Rating- I rank it high 

S74:

2020 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 0

2020 resident tag(s) allocated: 2 rifle

2020 harvest success: 0/2

2021 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 0

2021 resident tag(s) allocated: 2 (this was a guaranteed tag to the 2020 draw recipient)

2021 Harvest Success: not published yet

2022 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 1

2022 resident tag(s) allocated: 1

Buzz- This sheep herd is small and concentrated but has BIG rams! The sheep are highly visible right off of i70. The terrain is nasty and you cannot  hunt within half a mile of the interstate. To access the sheep, be prepared to hike. Figuring out how the sheep move around the different drainages can be difficult

Location- North of Glenwood Springs and West of Gypsum

Quality/Quantity- By no means the most populated sheep unit, but there are some giant rams

Success Rate- Success rates are high but figuring out the sheep movements and waiting them out takes time

FTWG Rating- Because of low draw odds I rank it low. But, if you’re after a giant ram I’d apply here

Sheep Conclusion:

Top choices for residents (no particular order):

  • S2
  • S11
  • S17
  • S59
  • S66

Top choice for non residents (no particular order):

  • S11
  • S17
  • S66
  • S74

Rocky Mountain Goat Units- **Note** looking at both billies and nannies

G1 (tags are also valid in G14)

2020 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 0

2020 resident tag(s) allocated: 6 archery tags

2020 harvest success: 0

2021 nonresident tag(s) allocated:

2021 resident tag(s) allocated: 6 archery tags

2021 harvest success: not published yet

2022 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 0

2022 resident tag(s) allocated: 6 archery tags

Buzz- This is an archery only unit and tags are valid in both G1 and G14. Goats are doing well in the area. Can be a difficult unit to hunt with a bow due to large open basins in much of the area. 

Location- West of Salida

Quality/Quantity- Goat populations are doing well and there are some slammer billies.

Success Rate- As one would suspect, success rates are significantly lower in an archery only area. A lot of smaller billies and nannies get harvested instead of harder to hunt mature billies. 

FTWG Rating- Low on my list. For my once (or maybe twice) in a lifetime tag, I want the odds in my favor. That means taking a rifle, or atleast having it as an option for later in the hunt. 

 

G2

2020 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 0

2020 resident tag(s) allocated: 5 rifle tags

2020 harvest success: 5 (4 billies, 1 nanny)

2021 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 0

2021 resident tag(s) allocated: 5 rifle tags

2021 harvest success: not published yet

2022 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 0 

2022 resident tag(s) allocated: 5 rifle tags

Buzz- The population seems to be going down by a bit but the quality is still very good. This area has a lot of 4×4 access. However, the downside is you see a lot of 4×4 recreation along the trails. The scenery is breathtaking and harvesting goats near the top of 14ers is normal. 

Location- West of Buena Vista and south of the collegiate Peaks Wilderness area

Quality/Quantity- Numbers seem to be decreasing but still a healthy population. The quality is good

Success Rate- Very high! If you are worried about the physicality of a goat hunt look here. The 4×4 access is better than anywhere else

FTWG Rating- Makes my list of units to think about applying. The draw is a little tougher due to good access

G3 (Now includes what was once G13)

2020 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 4 rifle tags

2020 resident tag(s) allocated: 30 rifle tags

2020 harvest success: 29 (23 billies, 6 nannies)

2021 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 4 rifle tags

2021 resident tag(s) allocated: 36 rifle tags

2021 harvest success: not published yet

2022 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 4

2022 resident tag(s) allocated: 36 rifle tags

Buzz- This is hands down my favorite unit! The mix of road access and wilderness allows for opportunities to hunt those old billies that are just plain hard to get to but also allows you to cruise around and glass from the road. The population and the quality is great! 

Location- West of Buena Vista, the Collegiate Peak Wilderness lies inside it

Quality/Quantity- Both great

Success Rate- Very high especially on guided hunts. Some historical areas are void of goats now so pre scouting is advisable!

FTWG Rating- High. The animals are there, draw success is good, and accessibility is ok.


G6

2020 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 1 rifle tag

2020 resident tag(s) allocated: 9 rifle tags

2020 harvest success: 9 (6 billies, 1 nanny)

2021 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 1 rifle tag 

2021 resident tag(s) allocated: 14 rifle tags

2021 harvest success: not published yet

2022 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 2 rifle tags

2022 resident tag(s) allocated: 23 rifle tags

Buzz- This is a love/hate unit for me! I have spent a lot of time in here. The country will kick your butt, but it is gorgeous. This is a backpack style hunt. Make sure you have a buddy or two to help you. Making multiple trips to pack out camp and an animal is a death sentence! Scouting is critical. If you have to switch drainages, you’ve lost almost 2 days of your hunt! The amount of hiking traffic can seem outrageous, especially on the weekends. Goat populations are higher than the CPW once suspected. Historically, I think the unit held some of the best quality goats. 

Location- North of Vail

Quality/Quantity- Goat populations are doing very well, hence, the increase in tag quota over the past two years. In the past, I don’t think CPW had even the slightest idea on goat populations. This past summer, the Rocky Mountain Goat Alliance did a huge volunteer goat count in the unit. Historically low tag quotas in the unit allowed lots of billies to grow old. Accompany that with great genetics! I’ve seen 3.5 year old billies with 9.5” horns

Success Rate-  Success rates are good if hunters are in excellent shape, spend time scouting, and allow themselves plenty of time for the hunt (in case they need to switch drainages.) Those that hire a guide have a good chance of success.

FTWG Rating- The increase in tag quotas from the last two years  should mean really high draw success. The combination of healthy populations, good quality, and high draw success make this a great unit. With that said, the unit may begin to feel crowded with all the additional hunters. 

A unique billy, who’s horn was growing downward

G12

2020 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 7 rifle tags (1 of which is a nanny only)

2020 resident tag(s) allocated 53 rifle tags (9 of which are nanny only)

2020 harvest success: 41 (25 billies, 16 nannies)

2021 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 7 rifle tags (1 of which is a nanny only)

2021 resident tag(s) allocated: 53 rifle tags (9 of which are nanny only)

2021 harvest success: not published yet

2022 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 9 rifle tags (2 of which are nanny only)

2022 resident tag(s) allocated: 71 rifle tags (18 of which are nanny only)

Buzz- Get ready to have a lot of awkward encounters along the trails with HUNDREDS of hikers! The CPW has made it a point to decrease goat populations in the unit over the last handful of years. The only thing more breathtaking than the scenery is hiking up to the goats. This is a backpack style hunt in the roughest country Colorado has to offer. The increase in hunting pressure over the past several years has pushed goats deeper into remote areas and gnarly terrain. The tag quota has caused an increase in competitiveness in the unit.

Location- East of Aspen in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness 

Quality/Quantity- Both population and quality have drastically decreased 

Success Rate- Decreasing each year as accessible goats get harvested

FTWG Rating- The high tag quota makes for an easier draw, but I would not recommend!

G17

2020 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 1 rifle tag

2020 resident tag(s) allocated: 5 rifle tags

2020 harvest success: 6 (3 billies, 3 nannies)

2021 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 1 rifle tag

2021 resident tag(s) allocated: 5 rifle tags

2021 harvest success: not published yet

2022 nonresident tag(s) allocated: 1 rifle tag

2022 resident tag(s) allocated: 5 rifle tags

Buzz- The unit is managed by the CPW for low populations. For this reason, the tag tends to be easier to draw. Be prepared to work your butt off to see a couple of goats. When you do find one, though, there is a good chance it will be a nice one 

Location-  East of Aspen and west of Leadville

Quality/Quantity- Numbers are low but decent sized goats

Success Rate- If you have lots of time to scout and hunt success rates are decent

FTWG Rating- There are better units despite the high draw success. I would not recommend. 

 

Goat Conclusion:

Top choices for residents and non residents:

  • G6
  • G3
  • G2

Top choices for non residents:

  • G6
  • G3

 

Shiras Moose Units

In general, moose populations across the state are exploding and moose hunting is great! Colorado produces some of the largest Shiras moose in the record books. Because of this, tag quotas are steadily rising in each unit year to year. The CPW is also opening new units to hunting as well.  

To learn more about field judging Shiras moose click HERE

 

6

Buzz- Lots of moose and a lot of big ones. The tag quota is high. There are ample opportunities for drawing a cow tag which offers even higher draw odds than an either-sex tag. 

Location- South of Wyoming and east of Walden

Quality/Quantity- Lots of moose and big ones

Success rate- High

FTWG Rating- High

12/23/24

Buzz- Units 12 and 23 have better access but quite a bit of private mixed in. The moose population is much higher in 24 and there is more public land. However, much of the unit is wilderness. I would highly consider using an outfitter if hunting in 24! 

Location- East of meeker, these three units cover a lot of country

Quality/Quantity- Quality and quantity is good in 24. I would spend my time in 24

Success rate- Guided hunters do extremely well in the wilderness areas of 24. 

FTWG Rating- Middle of the road 

19

Buzz- A lot of the unit was burned in 2020 from the Cameron Peak fire. Monster bulls!

Location- West of Fort Collins

Quality/Quantity- both high

Success rate- High

FTWG Rating- I rank this lower because of how hard tags are to draw

25/26/231

Buzz- This is my home unit and my staff and I spend more time in it than anyone! 2020 was the first year moose tags were allocated. Bigger moose are in remote spots and using horses is a necessity. The moose population has been exploding and the number of massive bulls we see each year while hunting elk is crazy!

Location- West of Co 131 and south of Oak Creek

Quality/Quantity-Both high

Success rate- High. If you go guided you can get deep and look at a  lot of bulls until you find the biggest one in the area

FTWG Rating- My Number 1 pick

48/481

Buzz- The scenery is beautiful and the mountains are big! We hunt a lot of sheep and goats in the vicinity. The valley bottoms are where the moose population is the densest. 

Location- West of Buena Vista

Quality/Quantity- Quality is OK but the numbers of moose are skyrocketing

Success rate- High

FTWG Rating- Middle of the road

49/500

Buzz- Moose populations are doing well and the quality is really good. 

Location- East of Buena Vista

Quality/Quantity- Both very high

Success rate- High. Bigger bulls live in the wilderness area and using an outfitter is advantageous

FTWG Rating-High


Moose Conclusion

Top choices for residents:

  • 25/26/231
  • 49/500
  • 6

 

Top choices for non residents

  • 49/500
  • 6
  • 12/23/24

 

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