Governors tags are tough to acquire
Most big-game hunting licenses are allocated in a drawing each spring, but Colorado also offers special limited hunting licenses via raffles and auctions.
Colorado has two such special licenses (one raffle, one auction) each year for bighorn sheep, mountain goat and moose and four such licenses (two raffle, two auction) for elk, deer and pronghorn.
Raffles or auctions are hosted by a small number of wildlife conservation groups, such as the Colorado Wildlife Federation, Safari Club International and the Colorado Mule Deer Association.
Andy Holland, state big-game manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, said the three-year mean gross revenue for the four deer licenses (two raffle, two auction) is $197,235 per year.
The highest price paid for a Colorado auction deer license to date is $130,000 for the 2010 Mule Deer Foundation (MDF) license. That same MDF license sold for $115,000 in 2013, Holland said.
In most cases, special licenses do not restrict the hunting method.
“Liberal hunting seasons, statewide licenses, and abundant game make Colorado auction and raffle licenses a true world-class opportunity for those who purchase the auction licenses or are lucky enough to draw the raffle license,” Holland said.
At least 75 percent of the money raised goes to Colorado Parks and Wildlife to fund wildlife habitat improvement and restoration.
In 2013, the money helped fund four habitat-enhancement projects in Gunnison, Cedaredge, Salida and Craig along with two management projects in Meeker and Gunnison for a total of $103,500.
Holland noted the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission recently shortened the auction and raffle deer season in most units west of Interstate 25 to end Nov. 30 from the previous closing date of Dec. 31.
“The season was shortened because members of the public expressed concerns about hunting mule deer in December when bucks are more vulnerable because they are concentrated on winter range, visible, and in rut,” Holland said. “Concerns were also raised about hunter and outfitter conduct, such as the payment of ‘finders fees,’ use of aircraft, and disturbing deer when they were on winter range.”
He said shorter seasons will eliminate disturbance of deer in December on winter range and reduce some other activities.
“However, it may do so at a cost of reduced funds for on-the-ground deer management,” Holland said.