Carbondale’s nearby White River National Forest and the Sopris Ranger District offer some of the finest big game hunting in Colorado. Each year, many hunters travel to this area in search of mule deer, elk, and black bear. Mountain goats and Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep are also popular game. Small-game species found here are rabbits, snowshoe hares, coyotes, and pine squirrels, as well as duck and goose in the winter months.

All hunters are required to have a hunting license. Anyone born on or after January 1, 1949 must have completed an approved hunter or bow hunter education course sanctioned by a state or province before applying for or purchasing a license. You must present a hunter safety card when buying a license over the counter at a license agency. Also, you must carry your hunter education card when hunting unless ‘Verified” is printed by the DOW on your license.

Some big game licenses are limited. Since this varies from year to year, it is best to contact the Colorado Division of Wildlife for more information. Game regulations and hunting maps are also available from the local Division of Wildlife office at Highways 6 & 24 in Glenwood Springs. (970) 947-2920, or click here to download the Western Slope Hunting Guide.

Archery hunting season typically runs from late August through late December. Muzzle-loading season runs from mid-September through late October. Deer and elk hunting season runs late October through January. Bear season runs in September. Turkey hunting season runs in April and May, then again in September.

For hunters not wanting to explore the area on their own, several local outfitters are available to make your experience as rewarding and memorable as possible. All guides and outfitters in Colorado must be bonded, registered, and insured. They also need permits to operate on public lands. Most offer fully guided, semi-guided, and drop camp hunts, as well as game packing for do-it-yourselfers. The success rate for outfitted hunters is significantly higher than that of the general public. Some of the best elk and deer hunting is often found miles from trailheads, and getting to these remote areas and packing out animals is much easier with an outfitter’s horses.