Species hunted and available to hunters by limited license draw include: Elk, Deer, Pronghorn, Bear, Turkey, Moose, and Bighorn Sheep. Ranching for Wildlife licenses are open to Colorado residents only.
The number of licenses on each ranch is determined by negotiations between the landowner and Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW). Public licenses on each ranch are available to the public through Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s draw process. The hunts are very popular with hunters and it can often require five or more points to draw male or either sex licenses. See the estimated points needed to draw by going to the Participating Ranches
Licenses issued for these ranches may only be used on the specified ranch. Hunters obtaining a license to hunt on these private ranches are given access to private property that would otherwise be closed to the public. When agreed to by CPW managers the ranches may impose additional conditions to distribute hunters and harvest across the ranch for hunt quality and harvest management reasons. Ranches may also require the use of guides – but when required the guide service is provided free of charge and tipping guides for free services is strictly forbidden. Some ranches may offer additional optional services such as packing, guiding, or lodging and may charge for these optional services.
A word about preference points and quality: Some hunters look at the number of preference points and assume that if a high number of preference points are needed to draw a license then that ranch holds large numbers of big bucks or bulls. But it might also mean that the ranch has a reputation for providing hunters with a high quality hunting experience with little or no relation to the size of bucks or bulls.
Public hunting on these ranches is a privilege and hunters need to present a favorable impression of a good sportsman. Successful applicants will receive information from the ranch that will address ranch rules. Since rules vary at each ranch, hunters must read and adhere to these rules. CPW officers have the authority to seize licenses and expel hunters not complying with ranch rules. In addition, aggravated violations of ranch rules can result in the violator losing their privilege to apply for or participate in any other RFW season forever. Prior year’s ranch rules for each ranch can be viewed by selecting the specific ranch name in Participating Ranches.
Ranches and ranch personnel are expected to treat hunters courteously and as welcome hunting guests. As such we expect ranches to provide you with advice on hunting areas with reasonable chance at harvesting an animals as well as sound advice on hunting strategies that will improve your chances of harvest. Remember that this is just advice, and as with any hunt, there are no guarantees. Weather conditions can influence access and game movements beyond the control of CPW or the Ranch. However, if a ranch or certain ranch personnel fail to welcome you courteously or professionally, or if ranch staff actions create problems with your hunt you should contact the local Wildlife Officer immediately. Local officers can typically be contacted through the local Sheriff’s Office or State Patrol Dispatch Office.
Our experience has been that most hunters heeding ranch advice have higher success for the kind of animal they seek. While some ranches offer additional free services such as game retrieval, skinning, or hanging, etc., hunters should not expect these. Hunters should also expect to hunt, and hunt hard. These are not “canned hunts." Deer on the eastern plains exist at much lower densities than they do in much of western Colorado, and this holds true for our plains RFW ranches as well. Regardless of where you choose to hunt in the RFW program, hunters should not expect “an animal behind every tree” just waiting to be harvested. Be prepared for your hunt with a firearm that is sighted in and you are proficient with. Be prepared with appropriate clothing and remember that solid (not camo) blaze orange vest and headwear is required for all big game RFW hunts, unless it is an identified primitive weapon hunt. Be prepared with a vehicle that can handle rough, muddy, or snowy/icy roads – in most conditions at least a truck or SUV with 4 wheel drive.
Season dates for each ranch vary and change each year. They are listed in the Colorado Parks and Wildlife's Big Game Brochure, available annually in mid-February. Look in the special section on Ranching for Wildlife under each species. Turkey licenses are issued through a special drawing and these seasons are listed in the Turkey Brochure. You may view the seasons and license allocations by game animal on the RFW main page (links are within the table, under the "Seasons & License Numbers" section).
You may also check Commission regulations dealing with the RFW program in Chapter 2, Article I, #210, and Chapter 3, Article II, #316-F. These regulations provide the legal foundation for the RFW program, but the practical aspects of the program are governed by the operating guidelines which you can view at Operating Guidelines .