Get Trophy Tags as Leftovers in Colorado

Get Trophy Tags as Leftovers in Colorado

Posted In: The Draw, The Hunt

Posted By: Jordan Ongstad (August 1, 2016)

A new policy change has made units that normally take up to 20 or more preference points now available as leftover tags.  This will allow you to get some of the most coveted tags in Colorado without waiting a single year or losing a single preference point.

The Policy Change

When I first saw the left-over list, I really couldn’t believe it. There, staring back at me in black and white, was a 61 archery either sex tag. A good buddy of mine has been chasing the creep on this tag for 3 years. Could I really just go buy this tag over-the-counter? Thinking the error to be clerical, I jumped in my truck and drove straight to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) Office here in Fort Collins where Ty Petersburg (Area 4 Wildlife Manager) gave me the scoop.

After drawing a tag in Colorado, you have up until 30 days before the start of the season to turn in a license for a refund and get your preference points back. In previous years, returned licenses would just go unused.  For the first time in the CPW’s history, these tags were added to the leftover list. This means tags that were drawn (with any number of points) and then given back, are going to be available to people as leftovers.  For those of you not familiar with the leftover process, your preference points don’t get used in purchasing leftover tags. You either call or show up to a license vendor to fight for the limited number of tags available. You're out the money for the tag, but not your coveted points.  To put it simply, this means there will be guys who spent 20 points for the hunt of a life time, hunting right next to people who called a number and bought a license basically over the counter for the same unit.

Leftover Licenses go on Sale at 9 am August 2 in person or by phone.

Click here to view the current Leftover List

Leftover Licenses

Before You Get Mad

Even before this gets posted, I can already see the uproar this is going to cause. People sitting at home reading this thinking to themselves “How dare the CPW basically giveaway a tag that I have been waiting for year after year”.  For most of us, we wait patiently for the Back Door to open up to see if we have the hunt of a lifetime. Most years, it's just to find out we were one point shy yet again. Hearing that someone would turn that tag in generally projects a scene of some rich guy sitting on a butt load of points. He drew too many tags, resulting in him deciding to turn in the Colorado hunt for something better. The good fortune of others spoiled my chances on the hunt I deserved yet another year. Sound logically right?  Well it’s rarely some fat cat in a high rise turning in his tag. Tags are turned in for numerous reasons:

  • Death in Family
  • Death of the Hunter
  • Loss of Job
  • Sick Child
  • Sick Parents
  • Family Emergency

The list goes on and on. You should feel sorry for the people who have to turn in these tags, because most likely they were devastated after filling out the forms and giving back the tag they wanted just as badly as you.

Still Mad? Then you Are Just Lazy

So now most of you guys are probably cooled off a bit.  But you’re probably still thinking, well shouldn’t they just go to the next person in line with the next most points?  That would be logical, but it’s unrealistic. The draw process is complex as it is and giving these tags to the next person in line would be a horrendous mess.  Maybe the next person in line drew a second choice, or maybe they would have been one of those unlucky people’s not able to hunt that tag this year. The best option is to give it to the guys willing to put in the effort to claim that tag.  During the draw, your preference points dictate what you’re owed in terms of available licenses. The draw has come and gone and you aren’t owed a thing. Leftover licenses are a free for all and if you want one, get up early and get one.


Although the new system probably isn’t perfect, a good outlook of the situation is this:

Trophy hunting in Colorado is a limited commodity. Tags are based on what’s good for the animals, and we best not forget this. Protecting our herds limits the number of hunters, in some cases to a select few, making these hunts something to be treasured.  The CPW gets to reward hunters with the privilege to hunt these units and I for one, don’t think these opportunities should go wasted. Great hunts are few and far between now days and as a fellow sportsman, I want as many people to experience some of the best hunts available each and every year. We should be sorrowed for the people who had to turn tags in and happy for those lucky enough to get the tags in the morning. So I wish all of you luck, I Just hope I beat you to it!

Other Information

To get more information about how to get leftover licenses visit the CPW’s website by clicking here

Already Have a License?

If you already have a license, it is possible to do a license transfer. If this is the case you must go to a CPW location to fill out the paper work (going to WalMart isn’t an option). You must have your license with you. You basically fill out some paper work, surrender your license and if you are successful in buying a leftover tag, the transfer will go through. If you aren’t able to purchase the leftover tag you want, you will still be able to keep your current tag.

Tips and Tricks

Avoid the places likely to have lines. I have heard reports of people camping outside of License sellers, so maybe try find a license retailer people aren’t likely to think of going.

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