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Colorado Turkey Hunting Laws and Regulations

2023 Turkey Hunting Updates

  • New Air Gun Method: For the fall or late season only, hunters can now use precharged pneumatic air guns of .25 caliber or larger.

  • Youth Season Extension: Hunters under 18 with an unfilled fall turkey license are permitted to hunt from the Saturday before Thanksgiving to the Sunday after Thanksgiving in the designated units on their original license. Details on page 6.

  • Fishers Peak State Park Hunting: Spring 2023 will see the introduction of turkey hunting at Fishers Peak State Park, limited to 5 hunters by permit via drawing. Full details at cpw.info/fishers-peak.

  • License Exchange Cost: A new $5 fee will be applied to all license exchanges.

  • GMU Boundary Changes: Modifications have been made to the boundaries of GMUs 3, 4, 11, 12, 13, 22, 23, 32, 33, 211, and 301.

  • License Surrender Option: A brief window post-draw allows hunters to surrender their license, restore their preference points, refund the fee, and remove the license from their account. Deadlines are February 17 for Spring Turkey and June 6 for Fall Turkey, both at 11:59 p.m. MT.

  • Anticipated GMU Updates: Boundaries for GMUs may be revised pending approval, with potential changes detailed in the early 2023 online brochure at cpw.info/turkey-brochure.

Hunting License Purchase Requirements

  • Identification: Valid ID and residency proof are necessary for Colorado residents buying a license.

  • Hunter Education: Documentation proving completion of a Hunter education course is required.

  • Habitat Stamp: Purchase of a 2023 Habitat Stamp ($11.50) or a lifetime stamp ($345.36) is mandatory for individuals aged 18–64 before obtaining a license.

Additional Note: Federal law mandates that hunters aged 12 or older must provide a Social Security number.

Turkey Hunting License Requirements

  • Specific Turkey License: To hunt wild turkey, a dedicated turkey license is required, as small-game licenses do not suffice.

  • Draw System for Limited Licenses: Limited licenses for spring and fall turkey hunting seasons are distributed via a draw system. These are only valid for set dates and units detailed on pages 4–7 of the regulations. Applications must be submitted online at cpw.state.co.us—Buy and Apply.

    • One Application Per Season: You can only submit one application per season; separate applications are necessary for spring and fall.
    • No Early Fall Applications: Fall season applications are not accepted before May 1, and the system prevents submitting a fall application during the spring application period.
  • Over-the-Counter (OTC) Licenses: OTC licenses for both the spring and fall seasons are available and can be purchased:

    • Online
    • By phone
    • In-person at CPW offices
    • At state parks and authorized sales agents
    • Sale dates are noted on the back cover of the brochure.
  • Validity and Non-Transferability: Licenses are only valid for the season indicated and expire once the season concludes. They cannot be transferred to another person.

  • Legal Compliance: Misrepresentation during the license purchasing process or altering an existing license is prohibited and will invalidate the license.

  • No HIP Registration: Registration with the Harvest Information Program (HIP) is not needed for turkey hunting.

Special Hunting Opportunities: Youth, Novices, and Mobility-Impaired Individuals

Youth Licenses

  • Reduced-Cost Licenses for Young Hunters: Youths under the age of 18 are eligible for reduced-cost turkey licenses.

  • Hunter Education and Mentor Requirements:

    • Mandatory hunter education compliance for all youths.
    • Hunters under 16 require the accompaniment of a mentor during hunts.
    • Mentors must be 18 or older and meet hunter education requirements.
    • Mentoring does not necessitate active hunting.
  • Field Regulations for Youth and Mentors:

    • Must maintain visual and auditory contact without the need for binoculars or electronic devices.
  • Age Consideration for Licenses:

    • Youth under 18 may purchase an adult license as long as they meet hunter-education criteria.
    • Upon turning 18, an adult license is required.
    • "Youth" status is determined by the age at the time of draw application submission, not at the season's start.

Outreach Licenses: Youth & Novice Adults

  • Youth Outreach Licences:

    • Available through qualified organizations for educational youth hunting activities.
    • Capped at 200 licenses for private land, exclusively for under-18s.
    • More information at cpw.info/hunter-outreach.
  • Novice Adult Outreach Licenses:

    • For qualified organizations leading novice adult hunting activities.
    • Limited to 200 licenses on a first-come, first-served basis.
    • Novice adults are Colorado residents 18+, with limited or no prior turkey hunting license history.
    • Further details at cpw.info/hunter-outreach.

Hunters with Mobility Impairments

  • Special Licenses:

    • Ten licenses designated for hunters with mobility impairments.
    • Valid for spring season, on private land in units 91, 92, and 96.
    • Dates and application process detailed at cpw.info/accessibility.
  • Spanish Peaks SWA Hunting:

    • Available after the second weekend of the spring turkey season (Wednesday to Friday).
    • Access by permit, issued at no cost on a first-come, first-served basis.
    • Issued by CPW Licensing, 6060 Broadway, Denver CO 80216, limited to two individuals per specified period.

Hunting Licenses in Colorado

1. Residency Requirements:

When applying for or purchasing a license, ensure the following:

  • Consistency with Tax Records: The physical residence address provided must match the one used for Colorado state income tax purposes.

  • Resident License Exclusivity: Your Colorado residency is considered terminated if:

    • You acquire a resident hunting, fishing, or trapping license from another state or country.
    • You register to vote in a location outside of Colorado.
    • You accept a driver’s license displaying a non-Colorado address.

For detailed guidelines and further clarification on proving residency, refer to the official information page: Colorado Parks & Wildlife - Proof of Residency.

Standard Colorado Resident Qualifications

  • Residency Requirements:
    • Time: At least 6 consecutive months of residence in Colorado immediately before purchase or application of resident CPW (Colorado Parks and Wildlife) products.
    • Primary Residence: Must be in Colorado.
    • Exclusivity: Cannot have applied for or obtained a resident license or pass from another state within the past 6 months.
  • Proof of Residency:
    • Primary Document: A current and valid Colorado driver’s license or ID with a Colorado address, which must be issued at least 6 months before the application.
    • Secondary Documentation: If the Colorado driver’s license/ID is less than 6 months old, applicants are required to present a minimum of two additional proofs of residency as detailed in the "Additional Residency Proofs" section.
Colorado Full-Time Student Status
  • Eligibility Requirements:

    • Enrollment: Must be enrolled full-time at an accredited school in Colorado.
    • Duration: Enrollment must have begun at least 6 months before the purchase or application for resident CPW products.
  • Verification of Student Status:

    • Identification: A valid Student ID card is required.
    • Institution Details: The name of the Colorado school institution must be provided.
    • Enrollment Date: The date of becoming a full-time student must be clearly stated.
    • Academic Proof: An official school transcript showing the student’s full-time status is essential.

This verification process ensures that full-time students are correctly identified for resident CPW product eligibility.

Full-Time Out-of-State Student Criteria
  • Residency and Attendance Requirements:

    • Colorado Residency: Must meet all Colorado residency requirements before attending school outside of Colorado.
    • Accredited School: Enrollment at a full-time capacity in an accredited school located outside of Colorado.
    • Tuition Status: Must be paying nonresident tuition fees at said institution.
  • Evidence of Eligibility:

    • Student Identification: Presentation of a current Student ID is mandatory.
    • Educational Institution: Provide the name of the out-of-state accredited school.
    • Start Date: Declare the date upon which full-time student status commenced.
    • Tuition Proof: Documentation confirming the payment of nonresident tuition is essential.

Students who are Colorado residents but study full-time at out-of-state institutions are required to establish their status with concrete documentation for CPW product applications.

Colorado Military Stationing Residency
  • Active-Duty Stationing Requirements:

    • Military Status: Must be on active duty and stationed within Colorado.
    • Family Inclusion: Spouses and dependents of military members obtain equivalent residency status.
    • Residency Commencement: Residency is effective from the start date specified in the military orders.
  • Documentation for Verification:

    • Identification: A valid Military ID is compulsory.
    • Official Orders: A copy of the official military orders stationing the individual in Colorado is required.

Active-duty military personnel and their immediate family members are recognized as Colorado residents for CPW products starting from the date indicated on their military assignment orders.

 

Home of Record Residency for Colorado Military
  • Eligibility for Active-Duty Personnel:

    • Active Duty Status: Individuals must be on active military duty and presently stationed outside of Colorado.
    • Colorado Connection: Colorado should be officially designated as the person's home of record.
    • Tax Requirements: Must be fulfilling Colorado resident income tax obligations.
    • Family Residency: The same residency status extends to the military member's spouse and dependents.
  • Required Proof of Status:

    • Military Identification: A current Military ID must be presented.
    • Assignment Orders: Existing military orders must be provided as proof.

Active-duty servicemembers with a recorded home of residence in Colorado, as well as their families, retain their resident status for CPW products, even when stationed elsewhere, by maintaining Colorado income tax contributions.

Youth Residency Alignment

  • Residency Status for Minors:
    • Age Limit: This applies to individuals who are under 18 years of age.
    • Parental/Guardian Residency: The residency status of minors mirrors that of their parent or legal guardian.
    • Custodial Residency: In case of a court-ordered living arrangement, the residency follows the person whom the child resides with most frequently.

Children below 18 years of age adopt the same residency status for CPW products as their parent, guardian, or the individual designated by a court order as their primary custodian.

Guidance for Multiple Homes

  • Home in Colorado and Elsewhere: If you maintain residences both in Colorado and another location, you must ensure compliance with Colorado residency regulations.

  • Confirmation Contact:

    • For clarification on residency compliance for licenses or state park passes, you can contact the CPW office at 303-297-1192.

2. Hunter Education Requirements in Colorado

  • Mandatory Hunter Education:

    • Birth Date Cutoff: Individuals born on or after January 1, 1949, are obliged to possess a hunter education card.
    • Licensing Requirement: A valid hunter education card is a prerequisite for applying for or purchasing hunting licenses.
  • Card Carrying and Verification:

    • While Hunting: It is mandatory to carry your hunter education card during hunting activities.
    • Verification Advantage: If the card is verified and your license includes a "V" mark, there's no need to carry the card in the field.
    • Verification Process: To verify your hunter education card, present it at any CPW office or state park (locations can be found on the inside front cover of applicable publications).
  • Reciprocity:

    • CPW recognizes hunter education cards issued by other states, Canadian provinces, and countries.

The hunter education card serves as proof of meeting safety requirements for hunting in Colorado and must be available during hunts unless previously verified.

Hunter Education Exemptions and Alternatives

  • Test-Out Options for Certain Individuals:

    • Age Consideration: Persons over the age of 50 have the option to test out of the hunter education requirement.
    • Military Exemption: Active-duty U.S. military members and veterans are also eligible to bypass the standard education by completing a test.
    • Further Information and Test Access: Specifics and the testing procedure are available at cpw.info/huntereducation-test-out.
  • Apprentice Certificate Provision:

    • Eligibility Age: Hunter education waiver is open for individuals who are at least 10 years old.
    • Mentor Requirement: Apprentice hunters must be accompanied by a mentor while in the field.
    • Certificate Limit: This exemption certificate can be acquired only twice per individual in their lifetime.
    • Acquisition Process: Details and applications for the apprentice certificate can be found at cpw.info/apprentice-certificate.

These exemptions provide alternative pathways to fulfill hunter education requirements for older individuals, military personnel, and young apprentice hunters in Colorado.

 

3. Habitat Stamp Obligations for Hunters

  • Annual Stamp Requirement:

    • Cost: The current price for a Habitat Stamp is $11.50.
    • Age Group: Hunters aged between 18 and 64 years old must obtain a stamp.
    • Validity Period: Each stamp is valid from March 1st until March 31st the following year, covering a total of 13 months.
  • Lifetime Stamp Option:

    • Pricing: A lifetime Habitat Stamp can be purchased for $345.36.
  • Exemptions:

    • Accessibility Programs: Hunters enrolled in the Columbine, Blue Spruce, Independence, and/or Big Game Mobility programs are not required to purchase a Habitat Stamp.
    • Exemption Details: To verify eligibility for exemption, visit cpw.info/accessibility.
  • Additional Information:

The Habitat Stamp is a significant contribution to Colorado's conservation efforts, required annually for eligible hunters or available as a lifetime purchase.

 

 Colorado Turkey Hunting Laws

Illegal Hunting Methods

It is unlawful to:

  • Claim public lands are private through posting or signage unless the land is under an exclusive-control lease.
  • Hunt on private property without securing permission from the owner or manager.
  • Hunt on State Trust Lands (STLs) without the lessee’s consent, unless designated for wildlife recreation.
  • Possess a loaded (with ammunition in the chamber) rifle or shotgun in or on a vehicle.
  • Utilize any vehicle, including motorcycles, off-highway vehicles, snowmobiles, or aircraft, to hunt or disturb wildlife.
  • Be intoxicated by alcohol or drugs while hunting.
  • Employ artificial lighting to assist in the hunting of wildlife.
  • Neglect to properly process and prepare edible portions of wildlife meat for human consumption; non-edible parts exclude internal organs.
  • Engage in party hunting, which means taking game for another or allowing someone to take your game.
  • Use recorded or electronically amplified wildlife calls.
  • Bait turkeys with food such as salt, minerals, grains, or other feed.

Regarding Equipment and Technology:

  • Permanent blinds or tree stands are prohibited in State Wildlife Areas (SWAs). Only portable blinds or stands are permitted and must be removed after each day's use. Do not damage trees and ensure visibility of the hunter's Customer Identification number (CID) and active dates.
  • The installation of blinds or tree stands does not grant exclusive use; they are available to the public on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Hunters must refrain from using the internet or remote technology to aid hunting or fishing. Drones, unmanned, or remote-controlled devices scanning for wildlife are included in this prohibition.
  • Live-action game cameras are illegal for guiding hunting efforts. These are cameras with the capabilities to send real-time photos/video wirelessly to remote devices. Standard game cameras that store data and don't transmit wirelessly are permitted if not used within the same or subsequent day for hunting.

Restrictions on Licenses and Weapon Possession

Child Support Delinquency

  • Hunting and fishing licenses require a Social Security number for purchase but it's kept confidential from the license display.
  • Social Security numbers may be shared with Child Support Enforcement to address delinquencies.
  • If you're suspended for child support non-compliance, you cannot be issued a hunting or fishing license.
  • Any licenses currently held are rendered invalid for individuals, not in compliance with child support mandates.

Weapons Restrictions

  • Colorado and federal laws disallow weapon possession for hunting by individuals convicted of particular offenses, including domestic violence.
  • Convicted individuals should consult with law enforcement to understand the application of the laws to their situation and eligibility for possessing hunting weapons.

BAG LIMITS, TAGGING & METHODS OF TAKE

Bag and Possession Limits

  • Spring Season Limits:

    • A maximum of two bearded turkeys are allowed.
    • The first bird requires a limited license; the second can be taken with an over-the-counter license.
  • Fall Season Limits:

    • Hunters are permitted one either-sex turkey.
  • Late Season Limits:

    • A limit of two beardless turkeys is set for the late hunting season.

Tagging Requirements

  • Immediate Action Required:

    • Immediately upon harvesting a turkey, the carcass tag must be detached, signed, and dated by the hunter.
    • This tag, found on the bottom section of the license, must then be securely attached to the animal.
  • Mandatory Attachment:

    • The tag must remain attached during transportation, while at camp, in storage, or any form of possession.
  • Handling Lost or Detached Tags:

    • Should a carcass tag become detached, lost, or destroyed inadvertently, hunters are obligated to obtain a duplicate before continuing to hunt.
    • To get a duplicate tag, present evidence of the accidental occurrence to a CPW area office, references for which are inside the front cover of the hunting regulations.

Methods of Take

Shotguns (Including Muzzleloading Shotguns):

  • Maximum gauge permitted is 10.
  • Capacity must not exceed three shells in the magazine and chamber combined.
  • A plug is required for shotguns capable of holding more than three shells.
  • Only shot sizes #2 or smaller (lead or steel) are lawful, and single slugs are prohibited.

Hand-Held Bows:

Crossbows:

Rifles and Handguns:

  • Spring Season: Rifles and handguns are not allowed for turkey hunting.
  • Fall and Late Seasons:
    • Rifles and handguns must be either muzzleloading, centerfire, or rimfire.
    • Bullets should be a minimum of 17 grains and have an energy rating of at least 110 foot-pounds at 100 yards from the muzzle.

New Air Guns:

  • Only precharged pneumatic air guns of .25 caliber or larger are legal, and only during the fall or late season.

Additional Information:

  • It is lawful to take turkeys over standing crops or feed scattered solely for agricultural purposes.
  • Artificial decoys and manual calls are legal to use.
  • The use of recorded or electronically amplified calls is illegal.
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Disclaimer:

The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.