In Colorado Big Game Hunting and Fishing is Big Business

Hunters will contribute $1.8 billion to Colorado’s economy this year. (Photo: Colorado Parks and Wildlife)

A survey commissioned by Colorado Parks and Wildlife shows what many locals have banked on for years, that hunting and fishing – big game hunting in particular – is big business. Sportsmen and women spend $1.8 billion a year to enjoy what the Rocky Mountains have to offer.

This year Colorado issued 127,600 tags for elk alone, which is about 5,000 less than last year as wildlife officials manage the state’s herds. This does not cover “over-the-counter” licenses, which are a type of license offered after big game tags are drawn for the first season.

Because hunters are naturally drawn to rural areas, hunting season means a great deal to small towns and communities. “It’s a major event for lots of small towns,” said senior Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologist Brad Petch.

The role of hunting in Colorado has been a good one. The state has some of the largest and healthiest herds in the country. Hunters may use bows, muzzleloaders or rifles to hunt most big game depending on the season.

“Elk herds have been a big success story in Colorado. As we’ve sometimes struggled with deer herds, elk have been a vibrant and growing resource,” Petch said.

“Hunters and anglers play a major role in sustaining Colorado’s natural resources through their willingness to pay for conservation through the purchase of hunting and fishing licenses,” said Colorado Parks and Wildlife director Bob Broscheid.

See Also: Night Hunting Hogs with a Suppressed Muzzleloader? Hell Yes!

“We cannot predict the future but are planning for it,” said Broscheid. “Colorado faces a growing number of challenges as we see unprecedented population growth, urban sprawl, habitat loss, continued debates over water use and a growing segment of citizens who are not connected to nature and its care.”

Still, the number of hunters in Colorado is growing. According to the survey, that $1.8 billion revenue is up steeply compared to $845 million in 2004. It’s estimated that hunting and fishing props up as many as 21,000 jobs in the state.

Sportsmen and women are also willing to pay more than other vacationers to stay close to Colorado’s wilds. Compared to skiers and the like, which spend about $118 per day hitting the slopes, hunters pay on average $253 per day to hunt.

About two-thirds of hunters in Colorado are residents, although out-of-state hunters generate around half of the total revenue associated with hunting and fishing. These hunters spend more on hotels, restaurants and activities than other tourists do.

The study was conducted by Southwick and Associates on behalf of Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

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About the author: Max Slowik is a writer with over a dozen years of experience and is a lifelong shooter. He has unwavering support for the Second Amendment and the human right to self-defense. Like Thomas Paine, he’s a journalist by profession and a propagandist by inclination.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Ron Boschae June 22, 2019, 8:30 pm

    Now anyone wanting to hunt big game and apply for a license must obtain a small game or turkey qualifying license. I do hunt small game and paid for the license, but my wife only hunts big game. Thus she refused to pay the extorsion fees and refused to hunt this year. Our grandson and his buddy [out of staters] couldn’t believe the extra expense just to apply for an elk tag. They won’t be back again.
    I heard that some hunters are talking a class action lawsuit over Colorado’s extortion of buying something they don’t want, to get a tag they want.
    And now the Parks and Rec have all new vehicles.

  • Al September 17, 2018, 5:15 pm

    Yep, “Big Business” for Colorado Parks, who has taken over CDOW and raided our hunting and fishing funds. Meanwhile, preference goes to ‘Out of State’ hunters, and large Ranches bordering public lands have been known to actually herd the Elk to keep them on their property.
    Yep, big business all right, for the rich.

  • Doug September 6, 2018, 10:35 am

    I had a long message that I’ve created talking about the lack of benefit to having uneducated or uninformed hunters in the field, while also recognizing the economic gains from having them there. But somehow it disappeared after I hit submit.

    The short of it was that most local hunters including myself do not appreciate out-of-state people coming in even though their tags bring the state more than 10 times the normal amount and terms of revenue.

    Secondly, your numbers for skiing are not accurate if you’re looking at a “full price” day. Most of the resorts along the way I-70 Corridor have lift tickets starting AT $100 dollars and up for a single day. That doesn’t even cover car rental if necessary, gas or any food and beverages while up there. Someone going up for a single day of skiing without a season pass could easily spend $200-$300 for a single day.

  • Doug September 6, 2018, 10:29 am

    Uh… yeah. I’m going to have to say that while the economic aspect of this situation is certainly helpful to the state and small towns, the influx of ignorant hunters is definitely NOT appreciated by any local hunters that I know (including me).

    These people approach hunting like they would in their home state, which is typically not even close to the style of hunting you need to employ to hunt elk in Rocky Mountains. For the most part people expect (from what I’ve seen) to be able to walk around in the wilderness, and just happened to stumble upon trophy bull.

    Elk are very wary animals, and extremely sensitive to smells sights and sounds. In addition to the fact that animals get extremely skittish right from the first rifle shots of the season, and these out of state hunters fairly often will do nothing but traipse through the woods making all kinds of noise and further putting pressure on the animals causing them to move away from any areas that hunters can reach (I do recognize that not ALL hunters from out of state are like that though).

    Elk seem to have the uncanny ability to find public land away from hunters by factors of miles so that they’re very difficult to reach, or get themselves into private land where hunters are not able to shoot them unless they have a private land tag. Uninformed hunters only exasperate this situation, and make it more difficult for us local hunters who are working to feed our families and not necessarily only looking for the trophy bull.

    Couple this with the large influx of “progressive” dbags in the state who want to do field to table food but bring their liberal BS as well, and it puts even greater pressure in public spaces.

    Double edged sword. Lots of economic benefits but also makes life “harder” when you’re dealing with every Tom, Dick and Harry.

    Lastly your numbers for a day of skiing are off. Most of the resorts are at $100 a day or more for the lift tickets, and that doesn’t even touch car rental (if needed), gas, and any food or drinks while there. A local could easily spend $200 to $300 all in for a day of skiing anymore if not using a season pass.

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