Colorado’s Big Game Hunting Opportunities Are Attracting Hunters in Record Numbers

by Shelby Scott
(Photo by: Jon G. Fuller / VWPics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

The inception of the COVID-19 pandemic saw the vast majority of Americans take to the outdoors. The transition came as national shut-downs and social distancing guidelines became the norm. Meanwhile, states across the U.S. saw a spike in state and national parks‘ attendance. However, the number of Colorado’s big game hunting applications also skyrocketed.

While CO is known for its hiking culture, hunting has become just as popular within the last few years. According to Fox 13 KDVR, the state’s population has grown rapidly. As such, Colorado Parks and Wildlife said in a press release on Friday that hunters should submit their big game hunting applications early. Their announcement came as experienced hunters prepare to get ahead of the rush.

The outlet reports that since 2015, the number of Colorado’s big game hunting applications increased by 27%. Further, Colorado’s big game hunting applicant numbers rose by 50,000 to 70,000 annually for the last three years.

Most of Colorado’s big game hunters are angling for deer and elk. However, in recent years, more and more hunters have been drawn to other large species like bighorn sheep and mountain goats.

Additionally, a larger portion of Colorado’s big game hunting applications come from hunters out of state. A chart provided on the news outlet’s website shows that more than 30% of hunters in 2021 were from out of state. The surge speaks to the state’s big game hunting opportunities as well as a greater drive for experienced hunters to get outdoors.

Colorado Votes Down Big Cat Hunting Ban

Speaking of big game, CO just voted down a bill that would have put a limit on hunting big cats.

The overall goal of the bill was to attempt to govern one small piece of an ecosystem. Essentially, it would have become illegal for hunters to pursue big CO cats, which, as a result, would have put a greater strain on farmers and ranchers.

While hunting enables those willing to commit to bring food home at the end of the day, it also contributes greatly to population control. If the state government were to ban the pursuit of big cats, their populations would have thrived and farmers and ranchers, some with little firearms experience, would have been left to protect their flocks.

Senators voted against the big cat ban, with a 4-1 outcome.

COVID-19 Sends More Americans Outdoors to Hunt, Fish, and More

While hunting has become a major draw for outdoorsmen in CO, other outside activities have drawn larger crowds over the last few years.

In addition to CPW’s 300 mentored statewide hunts, the organization also presented state residents with various opportunities for fishing. Some youth and novice hunters took to the woods for guided hunts. However, thanks to the CPW, more than 100 fishing clinics took place across CO last year.

The programs reportedly introduced about 3,000 people to different variations of angling. Some learn to fly fish and ice fish, while others spent time warm water fishing. The CPW even hosted children’s events.