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Colorado Votes to End OTC Non-Resident Archery Elk Tag

By Brodie SwisherJune 14, 20244 Comments

With western hunting continuing to rise in popularity over the years, there’s been a push for a number of states to tighten up on the easy opportunities afforded non-resident hunters willing to make the long journey out west in search of bugling bulls.

Non-resident license fees have continued to climb, even in the most affordable states, like Colorado and Idaho. However, a recent approval for change in Colorado shows the state is taking things to the next level in their attempt to ease the crowding that has become the norm for elk hunters each fall. 

Colorado has long been known as the go-to state for non-resident elk hunters. Tags were affordable, easily purchased over the counter, and the elk herd numbers were second to none. However, a recent recommendation by the CPW staff, and approval by its commissioners, will soon make over the counter (OTC) archery elk tags for non-resident hunters a thing of the past. 

Last Minute Prep For Your Elk Hunt
Colorado continues to tighten up on non-resident archery elk hunting opportunities. (Photo by Meredith Fontana on Unsplash)

The crew at Eastman’s released the following notes on why and when the changes are coming about. 

Limitation of OTC Archery Licenses       

During the May Commissioners meeting, CPW staff initially recommended full limitation of OTC archery licenses for both residents and nonresidents. This recommendation was difficult to make considering it was least supported by resident hunters. 

From March through May, the Commission and staff listened to the public testimony from many hunters who are passionate about having OTC licenses available to them. Hunters shared their perspectives on hunting heritage, how important OTC licenses are to ensure families and friends can hunt together, about recruitment and retention, and many other reasons to maintain OTC archery licenses for residents.

After listening to all public comments, the CPW staff came to a new recommendation, which the Commissioners approved, to LIMIT OTC ARCHERY LICENSES (go to 100% Limited Draw Licenses) for NONRESIDENTS ONLY, and to maintain OTC archery licenses for residents. Unlike rifle, staff believes OTC archery elk licenses should be limited for nonresidents only for the following reasons:  

  1. There has been an increasing trend in OTC archery license sales over the last 20 years. In 2023 nonresidents purchased more licenses than residents (47% resident; 53% nonresident). 
  2. There is a 20-year increasing trend in total archery license sales for elk, which is a combined total of OTC and limited license sales, and nonresidents now purchase a higher proportion of the licenses than residents. 
  3. Crowding has been a concern during archery season for many years. CPW has engaged the public on limitation of OTC archery licenses during the last two BGSS processes, which means we have been discussing limitation of archery licenses for over 10 years. The majority of resident hunters prefer to maintain OTC archery elk licenses for residents, and to limit OTC archery elk licenses for nonresidents.

Officials say the changes will take place in the 2025 hunting season. 

What are your thoughts on this? Is this a good or bad move for non-resident hunters? What about residents? Comment below, and let us know what you think. 

Also, be sure to check out the article recently published at Bowhunting.com on this very subject – Are OTC Tags on Their Way Out?

Brodie Swisher
Brodie Swisher is a world champion game caller, outdoor writer, seminar speaker and Editor for Bowhunting.com. Brodie and his family live in the Kentucky Lake area of west Tennessee.
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