Guide to the Colorado 2022 Big Game Draw For: Elk, Mule Deer, and Bear. Along with a How To Apply for these species in the area FTWG services

Booking Update

Covid-19 has done nothing positive for the world except for sparking a lot of  interest into western hunting. The past couple of years have seen an explosion in hunting and more specifically, destination hunting. With that said, our bookings are significantly further ahead than usual. If you are interested in a hunt for the future act soon! 

We do have some hunts still open for 2022:

A few archery drop camps throughout the month of September

Guided bear: 9/1-9/5 – 2 spots (2-4 hunters)

Guided bear hunt 9/15-9/19 – 1 spot (1-2 hunters)

Guided archery: 9/24-9/30 –  2 spots (2-4 hunters)

4th season guided deer hunters: 11/22-11/28 – 1 spot (1-2 hunters)

2022 Draw Guide

The 2022 big game draw deadline is April 5th at 8:00pm MT. The draw period opens March 1st and the results should be published from the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) May 31st- June 3rd. Do NOT wait to the last day to apply! The CPW website is known for bogging down.

To apply you will need the following:

1.) The hunt codes for the hunts you want to apply for… These are below for all of the hunts FTWG has to offer. If you are planning on hunting a different area you will need to look these up in the 2022 big game brochure. 

2.) Your hunter safety certificate 

3.) A credit card that is valid through June

4.) An email address

If you are a first time license purchaser for a Colorado fishing or hunting license you will need to create an account which will generate a Customer Identification Number (CID). To begin this process click HERE. 

During the application process, if you run into an issue on the CPW website please call one of their offices and speak with a representative click HERE.

For non-residents, before you can apply for a tag or for a preference point you need to purchase a qualifying license. The cheapest qualifying license is a small game and fishing combo license. 

If you are going to be purchasing an over the counter tag along with a draw tag please purchase that  OTC tag online in August (August 2nd) is when they go on sale. If you wait to purchase this once you get to Colorado that is ok too but do not wait until the last stop… I’ve heard of countless stories where vendors have run out of the paper that the tags are printed on or there is no one in the store that knows how to get hunters their tags. In turn, hunters have to back track to another vendor. 

As I mentioned above, this article is for elk, mule deer, and black bear for the areas we hunt. If you are interested in Rocky Mountain goat, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, or Shiras moose, I will be putting out my top choice units in another article inside the next couple of days. The draw system for those three species is very different than the standard big game draw. For more information I recommend reading an article I wrote a couple years ago called: Understanding The Colorado Sheep, Goat, and Moose Draw. 

Whether you plan on hunting every year or once every year 20 years, you should be putting into the Colorado draw. Even if that means you are only putting in for preference points. In my opinion, Colorado will continue to move more OTC units to draw units which will require preference points. Gaining a preference point each year is the best way to guarantee your success of drawing a tag in the future, and often times, hunting a better unit. However, keep in mind that a 20 point unit is not necessarily 20x better than a 1 point unit.  For both deer and elk there are Boone and Crockett quality animals in every single unit in Colorado; the units that require more preference points simply have a higher density of those caliber animals. My suggestion, is to find units/seasons in the 1-5 preference point range and hunt those. In the off years, hunt OTC units, units you can draw as second choice, or tags from the leftover list. Down the road, I will add an article on that process. Personally, I would much rather hunt every year in an OTC unit or second choice unit and every five years in a 5 point unit. Thus, in 20 years of applying, I would get to hunt a draw unit 4 times and an OTC or second choice unit 16 times. If I only applied first choice for the 20 point unit, I would only have one opportunity to hunt.

 

Definitions:

CPW: Colorado Parks and Wildlife. They are the governing state agency for wildlife and fisheries in Colorado. 

OTC: Over the counter tags. These can be purchased online in August through the CPW website or in person at where licenses are sold. However, these need to be purchased BEFORE the season opens!

Preference point (PP): There are two ways to gain a preference point in Colorado. You can either pay for a preference point as a first choice in the draw, or earn a preference point if you are unsuccessful in drawing your first choice tag 

Guaranteed draw: If you apply for this tag you will most likely draw it even if you have zero preference points. However, you need to put this as your first choice… You will NOT be able to build preference points

Preference Point Gainer Hunt: PP Gainer Hunt. These are hunts that you can draw as a second choice and in turn means you can build a preference point as your first choice. If you are applying for one of these make sure you put the hunt code for a PP as your first choice. If you put the hunt code for one of these units as your first choice you will LOSE any preference points you have built up. 

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 9/2-9/30: OTC
    • I recommend applying for the rifle bear tag. You can always shoot a bear with a bow on a rifle tag.
  • Muzzleloader Bear 9/10-9/18: PP Gainer Hunt
    • Hunt code: B-E-012-01-M
    • I recommend applying for the rifle bear tag. The rifle tag is a longer season and is a PP Gainer Hunt
  • Rifle Bear 9/2-9/30: PP Gainer Hunt
    • Hunt code: B-E-012-01-R
      • Great tag to have in you back pocket if you are out archery or muzzleloader hunting for elk or deer  or if you are a dedicated bear hunter coming on one of our Guided Bear Hunts
  • Archery Deer 9/2-9/30: Guaranteed Draw
    • Hunt Code: D-E-025-01-A
    • This either sex tag is an awesome tag to have in the pocket even if your main goal is elk hunting. There is the real possibility of seeing a giant buck but they are hard to get within bow range. If you are targeting mule deer specifically, you may want to grab an archery elk tag (see lower in the article).
  • Muzzleloader Deer 9/10-9/18: PP Gainer Hunt
    • Hunt Code: D-M-025-01-M
    • This is a great tag to have if you are chasing elk with a muzzleloader and see a buck. Deer can be tough to hunt this time of year. There is a good chance they may have been bumped around by elk hunters and if they are rubbed out of their velvet they will be in the dark timber
  • Early Rifle Deer 9/3-9/11: Requires 7-13 PP
    • Hunt Code: D-M-012-E1-R
    • This tag varies year to year on the amount of PP it requires solely due to low tag quotas. The tag in my opinion is over rated. However, this is an awesome time of the year to be in the mountains chasing bucks in velvet. The deer are dispersed throughout the landscape leaving a low density. There is the chance of shooting an absolute giant. 
  • Archery Elk 9/2-9/30: OTC
    • This is an either sex tag. You can combo this with the archery deer and a bear tag. 
  • Muzzleloader Elk 9/10-9/18: on average requires 2 PP 
    • Hunt Code: E-E-025-01-M
    • This is a great tag to have and is either sex! Gives hunters a one up on archery hunters and gives folks who do not archery hunt the opportunity to hunt bugling bulls in the rut

1st Rifle Season: 10/15-10/19

  • 1st Rifle Bull Elk: PP Gainer
    • Hunt Code: E-M-011-01-R
    • Very popular hunt! Often times the season dates catch the tail end of the rut. Not a very weather dependent hunt. Elk may still be in their summer range. Can combo with a cow tag and a bear tag (see below)
  • 1st Rifle Cow Elk: requires 0-1 PP
    • Hunt Code: E-F-025-01-R
    • The cow tags, believe it or not, are more difficult to draw than the bull tag. If hunters are looking to fill the freezer you may think about adding this tag. However, you will need to use this as your first choice and you are still not guaranteed to get the tag. 
  • 1st Rifle Bear: OTC
        • Hunt Code: B-E-012-U5-R ****DO NOT APPLY FOR THIS TAG IN THE DRAW**** it is to be added in August 
    • This tag is a good addition to an elk tag. There aren’t as many bears out during this time but still decent odds.

2nd Rifle Season: 10/29-11/6

  • 2nd Rifle Bull Elk: OTC
    • Very popular and I recommend adding a deer tag. Weather can start playing a factor in elk behavior! Snow and cold temperatures make for better hunting!
  • 2nd Rifle Cow Elk: Requires 0-1 PP
    • Hunt Code: E-F-025-02-R
    • If hunters are looking to fill the freezer you may think about adding this tag. However, you will need to use this as your first choice and you are still not guaranteed to get the tag
  • 2nd Rifle Deer: Guaranteed Draw
    • Hunt Code: D-M-025-02-R
    • Bucks are starting to think about does. Great tag to accompany a bull tag with

 

  • 2nd Rifle Bear: OTC
    • Hunt Code: B-E-012-U5-R ****DO NOT APPLY FOR THIS TAG IN THE DRAW**** it is to be added in August 
    • I do not recommend spending the money on this tag. I see very few bears this late in the season.

3rd Rifle Season: 11/12-11/18

  • 3rd Rifle Bull Elk: OTC
    • Very popular and I recommend adding a deer tag. Weather can start playing a factor in elk behavior! Snow and cold temperatures make for better hunting!
  • 3rd Rifle Cow Elk: 0-1 PP
    • Hunt Code: E-F-025-03-R
    • If hunters are looking to fill the freezer you may think about adding this tag. However, you will need to use this as your first choice and you are still not guaranteed to get the tag
  • 3rd Rifle Deer: 0-1 PP
    • Hunt Code: D-M-025-03-R
    • Great tag to have! Bucks are rutting! If you see does keep an eye on them bucks will show up!
  • 3rd Rifle Bear: OTC
    • Hunt Code: B-E-012-U5-R ****DO NOT APPLY FOR THIS TAG IN THE DRAW**** it is to be added in August 
    • I do not recommend spending the money on this tag. I have only seen 1 bear this late in the season

4th Rifle Season: 11/23-11/27

  • 4th Rifle Bull Elk: Guaranteed Draw
    • Hunt Code: E-M-025-04-R
    • This is an awesome time to hunt big bulls, but be prepared for nasty weather! Frigid temperatures and deep snow keep elk on their feet for long periods of time. However, being able to deal with the elements can be brutal for hunters
  • 4th Rifle Cow Elk: 0-1 PP
    • Hunt Code: E-F-025-04-R
    • If you want a bull and a cow tag in your pocket it probably won’t happen. For most hunters, a bull tag is more desirable. Whichever tag you’d prefer should be used as your first choice.
  • 4th Rifle Deer: 1-6PP
    • Hunt Code: D-M-025-04-R
    • The bucks are in full rut! This is a great tag!! Historically this tag has taken about 5 points to draw. For some reason, 2021 folks were drawing it with 1 PP. I would guess that this hunt will again require about 5 PP. 
  • 4th Rifle Bear: OTC
    • Hunt Code: B-E-012-U5-R ****DO NOT APPLY FOR THIS TAG IN THE DRAW**** it is to be added in August 
    • I do not recommend spending the money on this tag. I have never seen a bear this late in the season!

Step by Step Process

1.) Go to your browser and go to the CPW website

2.) Click Sign In or Create Account

3a.) If this is your first time purchasing a license in Colorado you will need to create an account. Click Create an Individual Account

You will then have to fill out 6 different steps to create this account

3b.) If you are a returning customer fill in your CID number/password and sign in

you will then have to confirm your details (mailing address, height, weight, etc)

4.) Then go to the top, and scroll your mouse over the Go Hunting and Fishing tab and select buy small game and combo licenses

5.)Purchase and add to cart the non resident small game annual license

6.) Then click Big Game, Turkeys, and Draws

6.) Scroll down until you see the list of species. Click on the species you want to apply for/build a point for and click apply now

7.) Choose weather or not you are applying as a group and hit proceed

8.) Type your hunt code or preference point code in… Remember that if you want to build a point it needs to be your first choice. For example: If I was hunting unit 25 for first rifle season my first choice would be the preference point code and my second choice would be the bull tag code. Then click confirm choices and then add to cart

9.) You then repeat this process with the other species you wish to apply for.

10.) The CPW will also force you to purchase a habitat stamp and ask how you would like the order fulfilled by mail or pick up at a sales location.

 

If you have any questions feel free to give us

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