Colorado’s 2020 license recommendations for mule deer

Big Colorado mule deer in snow

You just never know what will turn up in the timber of Colorado. Photo credit: Brady Miller

Jump to: Deer Recommendation Summary Deer Populations License Changes M:F Ratios

Just the other day I was talking to goHUNT's Head of Research Brandon Evans and he mentioned he had something that I would be really interested in. So naturally, I was hanging off the edge of my seat in anticipation. That information was a draft report from Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) of their 2020 big game license recommendations! And because I really love mule deer, this entire article will focus on the mule deer side of things. If you want to make comments on these recommendations to CPW, I provided links at the bottom of the article.

Below you find a bunch of tables and graphics that showcase 2019 numbers compared to their 2020 numbers/predictions. You'll also be able to see how CPW is trying to adjust the herd with buck tag and doe tag numbers to meet their overall herd objectives. The tables and graphics are broken out into categories that showcase region changes as well as small scale unit by unit changes.

For a quick summary, in total there are 54 Data Analysis Units (DAUs) in Colorado for deer. The full definition for a DAU is the geographic area that represents the year-round range of a specific big game herd/population. Each DAU is composed of one or more Game Management Units (GMUs). DAUs are used to monitor distinct herds/populations. For even more reading, you can always check out the herd management plans for each DAU. I really enjoy this information! It can be found here.

Those DAUs represent 989 different deer hunt codes.

Colorado deer applications and limited license quota by year

CPW's deer recommendation summary

  • CPW is recommending similar total deer licenses as last year; all changes result in an increase of 980 deer licenses (+1%) to 101,500 limited licenses
  • A recommended decrease of 1,700 licenses in the Northwest Region was balanced out by increases of 2,600 deer licenses in the Northeast and Southeast Regions combined. 
  • Statewide, rifle buck licenses remained nearly the same at 55,400.
  • Buck license recommendations were increased in herds that are above Herd Management Plan (HMP) sex ratio objectives. In DAUs where CWD prevalence is greater than 5%, management actions were taken to reduce prevalence, including buck license increases for several herds. Buck license recommendations were reduced in herds that were below sex ratio objective ranges.
  • Antlerless license increases are recommended in herds that are performing well and are at or above population objective ranges and reductions are recommended in herds that are below population objective ranges

Tables and graphics

Deer populations

Colorado post hunt deer population estimate - Updated April 2020

Colorado post hunt populations

Colorado post hunt deer populations by region

Colorado mule deer populations by unit - updated April 2020

Colorado deer populations to population objective range

2019 vs 2020 license recommendations

Below are all the license recommendations CPW could make in 2020 and the percent change. They are broken out by weapon.

All limited deer licenses by region

Region20192020Total changePercent change
NE Plains10,00010,9759759.8%
SE Plains8,2659,4401,17514.2%

All rifle

Colorado limited rifle season license change 2019 to 2020

All limited rifle deer licenses by region

Region20192020Total changePercent change
NE Plains7,9608,7537759.7%
SE Plains5,3336,17484115.8%


Colorado limited archery season license change 2019 to 2020

All limited archery licenses by region

Region20192020Total changePercent change
NE Plains1,3451,4551108.2%
SE Plains1,9622,1411799.1%


Colorado limited muzzleloader season license change 2019 to 2020

All limited muzzleloader licenses by region

Region20192020Total changePercent change
NE Plains6957859012.9%
SE Plains9701,12515516.0%

All rifle female and either sex

All limited rifle female and either sex licenses

Region20192020Total changePercent change
NE Plains880945657.4%
SE Plains8761,16228632.6%

Male:female ratios

Colorado deer populations to sex ratio objective range

Colorado deer sex ratios

Min.Max.20193 year
NE Plains--------
SE Plains--------

Colorado deer modeled post-hunt sex ratios

Colorado deer quota by manner of take

In conclusion

After looking at the above information, you will see a picture at what CPW is recommending the license numbers be at to get to their population objectives and sex ratio objective at the ranges the would like. If you'd like to read the full draft report on Colorado's 2020 big game license recommendations you can check that out here. For a look at other license recommendations for 2020 (elk, antelope, moose, black bear) you can see the summaries on goHUNT here.

Note: If you would like to make comments on these recommendations, you can do that at the link below by May 1:

Info to submit comments here

The May 6-7 meeting information and a link to watch the meeting can be found here.



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