Home / General / Overcrowding by Non-resident Hunters Cancels Colorado OTC Elk Hunts

Overcrowding by Non-resident Hunters Cancels Colorado OTC Elk Hunts

Mr. Siegfried contacted Eastmans’ Hunting Journals via email regarding his opinion on what the state of Colorado is doing with OTC Archery Elk Tags. This blog is an op-ed article from a Colorado resident hunter’s perspective. We welcome responses and other opinions as well. 

Hunting is not a right in Colorado, our legislators do not promote equity in resident tag allocation like other western states.  Most western states cap non-residents at 10% of limited big game tags, Colorado gives 20-35% of limited elk and deer tags to non-residents and this does not take into effect the soft cap loopholes or landowner vouchers that are sold back to non-residents. If you read the bios of the CPW Commissioners, you won’t see many folks passionate about hunting and fishing and you will see that no one is defending resident hunters when it comes to tag allocation and OTC hunting opportunities. One of the few CPW Commissioners that is a “Sportsperson” is an outfitter named Marie Haskett, and last I checked outfitters largely represent non-residents, since that is who pays their bills.  

During the January 17, 2023 CPW Commission meeting a couple members of the Colorado Resident Hunter Association (Facebook Group) testified to try and save OTC archery hunting in the five E14 / Grand Mesa units (41, 52, 411, 421 and 521).  CPW was responding to overcrowding complaints over the past few years.  The attached Grand Mesa Archery CPW graph that was shared with the commission this fall shows that non-resident archery hunters are up 250% (1200 to 3000) since 2014 and that resident hunters are actually down 20% (2400 to 2000) since 2014. The surge in hunting pressure is the result of non-residents, in fact, 3 out 5 archery elk hunters on the Grand Mesa are non-residents. No state in the country has numbers like this, where residents of the state are run out of the woods by non-residents, yet that is the trend in archery OTC units and rifle OTC units across Colorado. I have submitted a couple CORA requests over the years to get the following stats. Statewide since 2014 archery OTC resident hunters are down 20% and rifle OTC resident hunters are down 10%. Meanwhile, all statewide OTC hunts (rifle + archery) in Colorado have seen an increase of over 24% by non-residents, from 35,818 in 2014 to 44,409 in 2021.  

Most western states like Wyoming, Utah and Idaho would respond to this non-resident surge by capping non-resident OTC tags and keeping OTC elk hunts open to residents to promote the sport to future generations of resident hunters. Not Colorado, on January 17th the CPW Commission with no objection to the facts, ruled to limit all archery elk tags on the Grand Mesa next year and then Commissioner Marie Haskett doubled down and proclaimed that they needed to change all archery to statewide draw in 2024 to meet biological and social management objectives. That’s right, social management objectives, I guess that does not include resident hunter equity compared to other states.

Colorado’s population has doubled from 3 million in 1990 to over 6 million today. At a time when the CPW should be researching why resident hunters are dropping out the past 10 years, they are actually looking to remove OTC opportunities that should be protected for residents exclusively.  No state treats resident hunters worse than Colorado 

Brandon Siegfried

Grand Junction, CO

About Brandon Siegfried

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40 comments

  1. In my honest opinion, Colorado considering the elimination of ALL of the archery OTC elk tags in 2024 is a horrible move.  It’s akin to having your foot surgically removed after stubbing your toe.  Extreme overreach.  

    A better idea would be to prevent a person from buying an OTC tag every year and limit the purchase to an every other year or every two or three year scenario to prevent overcrowding issues.  

    A person could still put in for a draw unit tag, if that person had banked preference points or buy PP’s for a future draw attempt if he or she was not permitted to purchase an OTC elk tag in any particular year.

    I already have PP’s for Elk, Mule Deer and Antelope in Colorado, so I am ahead of the game for now.  Though, I would still like to have the opportunity to hunt in OTC elk units before burning my PP’s as well.  I’m certain that I am not alone in this concern.  

    However, I also understand there needs to be some cooling-down years to throttle overcrowding.  That is where the implementation of an every other year or every two to three year waiting period in order for someone to purchase another OTC elk tag can be used.  

    Residents in Colorado wanting to keep ALL of the OTC elk tags for themselves is pure selfishness. Period.

    I live in a State that allows nonresidents to purchase an unlimited amount of deer tags AT A MORE THAN FAIR NONRESIDENT PRICE, and not once did the thought of dedicating all of the tags to residents ever cross my mind.

    There is plenty of public land in Colorado to appease everyone if a little more thought was put into the decision making process to come up with a better solution than to just arbitrarily eliminate all archery OTC elk tags. 

    • I personally hope the eliminate all OTC Elk tags and make all the 2nd & 3rd Rifle hunts a draw.

      Would reduce both point creep and overcrowding

      Right now people buy a point and still hunt OTC. I would rather people have to choose…point or hunt. Most of the OTC 2&3 Units would be drawn with 0-2 points but would still require burning points instead of hoarding them. And the fact. That there was some quota on the units would cap how many people were in each unit for each season instead of it being unlimited. Basically takes care of two problems… Over crowding and never ending point creep.

      Make people use points to hunt

      • Jonathan D Norris

        You must be ok with only getting a tag every 3 years.

        • Better to get a tag every two to three years in an OTC elk unit than not at all.

          • Jonathan Norris

            Depends on the area and if you have access to private land. Lots of landowners or people who can hunt private land in OTC units are not going to be happy. Most people hoard points to hunt trophy units. That hasn’t changed. They could have found a better solution without impacting resident hunters as much as they have.

          • Ask the residents of Arizona how they feel about that. Bet you would see no one agrees with you. That State has turned into 3 tags in a lifetime.

        • Nope

          Most of the units that are OTC now would draw w 0 points anyway

          People just would have to to choose…point or hunt. Not Point AND hunt

          People can either be hunters OR point collectors this way…but not BOTH

      • People would have to use points to hunt every year if they placed an every other year or every two to three year waiting period on purchasing an OTC archery elk tag.

        In order for someone to hunt every year, that person would have to buy points and burn points, which would not increase point creep.

        I could get on board with limiting OTC elk rifle tags,, but eliminating all archery OTC elk tags is beyond ridiculous.

        • Interestingly when University of Wyoming did the actual math for the Wyoming Wildlife Task Force last year, they proved out putting in a waiting period did significantly more to increase peoples odds of drawing tags than going from 80-20 to 90-10

          And it wasn’t close

          • You are missing what I am talking about.

            A person would still have to apply and use points to draw a limited entry elk tag in a draw unit. The OTC units would still exist, though be less crowded if a person was restricted from buying an OTC every year. With an every other year or a two to three year waiting period, the OTC units would receive less pressure.

            The draw units would also receive less pressure as people would seesaw back and forth between OTC units and draw units.

            But, to do away with all archery OTC units is idiotic.

    • You are missing the point completely. There is one state that offers OTC unlimited nonresident tags for elk; it is overcrowded by nonresident hunters. To compare this to deer hunting in your state is idiotic, there are multiple states that offer unlimited nonresident tags and populations exceed management numbers. There are far more opportunities throughout the country for deer limiting pressure and overcrowding.

      • I’m not missing anything. To do away with all OTC nonresident elk tags is idiotic. Beyond idiotic.

        It doesn’t matter what other States are doing. Other States do not have the same makeup of elk numbers or available public land, so your comparison to other States that offer elk hunts is way off base.

        I mentioned unlimited deer tags as a point of consideration due to me never having thought of cutting off nonresidents and saving them all for residents. That would be extremely selfish as would completely cutting off nonresidents to Colorado OTC elk tags.

        There is a solution, and cutting off all OTC elk tags to nonresidents is not the answer.

        Do you have any idea how expensive elk tags, and all other tags for that matter, will become for residents if you remove all of that nonresident revenue? You’ll really be griping if that happens. Good luck.

        • No I won’t. I also believe they should cap nonresident OTC tags and double the cost. Never said eliminate, no wonder residents don’t want nonresidents like yourself here. You sure are doing
          good job of making that case through your entitled commentary. Luckily I am engaged with our local sportspersons organizations who are lobbying for this cap in nonresident OTC tags. I won’t be griping, I would gladly pay more to not deal with the likes of you.

          • Lots of residents want nonresidents like me to hunt in Colorado to keep the tag cost in check. It’s selfish people like you who are the problem. You hide behind an anonymous handle and spew your hatred for fellow hunters. Congratulations! You’re special.

            I’ll be hunting Colorado many times as I plenty of Preference Points and the freedom to do so. Don’t get too upset though.

            Again, good luck to you.

    • Jeff Huessner, I am not hiding from anyone; why would you need my name, are you trying to intimidate me? Says Steve Peters, the most generic name ever. I have never met a resident hunter who has shared this view point, I am glad you have. There is no hatred for other hunters, just a request for fairness from a resident tag allocation stand point; you clearly do not understand this is the point of my commentary. Never did I advocate for eliminating nonresident hunting opportunities altogether, but after reading your comments, I am quickly changing my mind. I am glad you will burn your preference points for future hunts, hopefully we will see a tag increase prior to this for you for the opportunity. I won’t be upset; I will be happy knowing the elevation and terrain is kicking your butt.

      • OK, Blog Bully, Jeff Huessner. You are attempting to intimidate everyone on this blog with your incessant posts of contention. Hypocrite much? Geeesh!

        At least now, your posts have a little more authenticity than hiding behind a generic “H.” Not much more authenticity, but a little more.

        The State is considering removing all OTC archery elk tags. That was my point. That is idiotic.

        It sure sounds like hatred for nonresidents. Again, your ideas of “fairness” are way off base and they sure seem to stem from unabashed selfishness.

        I’m not burning my PP’s until I absolutely have to or want to, but either way, I couldn’t give a wet duck fart what you think about it.

        LOL! I am fully prepared for the elevation and terrain, but continue to be the Blog Bully. That will show us. LMAO!!!!

        Have a better day, Jeff Huessner.

  2. Starting to feel like a bad guy and a criminal when it comes to Colorado and Wyoming. Glad I got to enjoy them both the last 20 years of my life

  3. Residents of every state need to have some kind of perks over non-residents.

  4. A Nonresidents point of view.
    I actually applaud Colorado’s nonresident hunting license allocation system. The States that are limiting nonresidents to just 10 % of Big Game licenses are failing to take into account the massive contribution that Nonresidents make to help their States function….
    Lets look at Colorado for an example.
    #1.
    Almost all the Big Game hunting occurs on Federal Land, which would be the National Forests, National Monuments, Bureau of Land Management’s Land, and National Wilderness Areas. Out of a total land area of 66,485,760 acres, 24,086,075 acres are Federally Owned. This is 36.23% of Colorado being Federal Lands owned by ALL.
    #2
    According to the Colorado General Assembly budget report, the States Budget is funded to the tune of 43.8 % by Nonresidents Federal Funds. This money helps fund Colorado Healthcare, Labor and Employment Assistance, Higher Education, Human Services, P-12 Education, Transportation Projects and other spending..
    So Nonresident do a-lot for Colorado, perhaps they should be awarded 20% or so of the available hunting licenses. In law proportionally comes into play.
    Many Residents are angry when they see a Nonresident at the Mountain trail head. You can bet these same people welcomed their fellow Nonresident soldiers and marines when they relieved them from their duty stations in the Mountains of Afghanistan………

    • Couple of things to point out William. 1. You can’t hunt on National Monument lands.
      2. The State of Colorado has jurisdiction on almost all federal lands and regulates and enforces hunting on them. Not the Feds… thank God. So while “public”, they are Colorado public lands managers by Colorado citizens.

      A system like EVERY western state has with a 10% cap on non-residents would still allow more non-residents to hunt elk in Colorado than any other state offers and still provides hunting revenue.

      As a resident of Colorado, I would prefer the quality opportunity each year rather than some additional seasonal revenue.

      • Actually Foye, you can hunt in National Monuments, but not all of them. It depends on who the administration agency is, and when the land was put in the Monument designation. The lands that were most recently placed are most likely to be open to hunting. Montana’s Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument is open for an example, it is a wonderful place I might add.
        Years ago in about 1994-5 George Taulman took Arizona all the way to the US Supreme Court because Arizona had limited nonresident hunting licenses to 10%, he thus claimed that this percentage interfered with interstate commerce.. Taulman won the case against Arizona, with the US Supreme Court voting in his favor…. So Arizona and other Western States would have had to come up with a fairer license policy, especially those States with vast amounts of Federal Land. This decision did not last long, as Senator Harry Reid of Nevada inserted into the National Defense Bill another bill that gave States the right to establish quotas and manage game herds. This particular bill was never debated in Congress as the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars were raging and our Military needed funding.
        Since Congress is directly mentioned in the US Constitution as having absolute control of interstate commerce issues, this invalidated the US Supreme Courts decision.
        There are many other ways of getting this into court again, or to have a full debate in the US Congress on these issues.
        A really interesting law review for you to read would be “ Fish and Wildlife Management on FEDERAL LAND: Debunking State Supremacy.” University of Montana, Faculty Law Review. This review of the law was written by University Law School Professors and other experts in Wildlife and Federal Lands Law.
        In the end it probably is better to consider allowing nonresident hunters maybe 20% of available licenses. After all, almost all the hunting is done on Federal Lands and nonresidents fund major portions of Western States budgets………Simply put, nonresidents contribute a-lot more to your States funding, welfare and quality of life than you may be aware. Hope you have a good year this year and hunt safe.

    • Please don’t come here. Your statistical reference to nonresidents contributions are the rich prick, second home owners in Aspen. I guarantee as a resident, my family contributes far more to the economy throughout the year than you do for the weekend you are here.
      I hope they limit nonresident tags and increase the cost double.

      • No, facts are facts… Your incredible childish greed is showing through.

        • Exactly, the income comes from second home owners in the resort communities. Statistics are Statistics, they mean nothing if you do not understand the basis of what they represent.Greed says the entitled nonresident hunter; he thinks he is saving are state by buying a nonresident tag, what would we do without you, but enjoy our hunt. It’s only fair, residents contribute far more throughout the year than your hunting excursion. It’s unfortunate that nonresident hunting behavior has led to this.

  5. Jonathan Norris

    We need state legislation to help prevent overreach from governor appointed commissioners. I agree crowding is an issue but majority of the crowding I have noticed was from out of state hunters. The commissioner must not have many clients that bow hunt.

    • Agreed, this is 100 percent, a nonresident overcrowding issue.

      • This might be an issue of residents crowding out other hunters on National Land.

        • Not at all, please come back to reality. I am glad you found out how to use Google to interpret law, you should be a lawyer.

          Look at the statistics referenced in the blog, 250 percent nonresident increase, 20 percent decrease in the referenced resident OTC units for archery hunters.

          I will be sure to let our state and local sportspersons organizations know your point of view when we discuss lobbying the.commission to limit nonresident tags.

  6. They could always put a cap of 12000 no- residents and leave it open for residents. Some other states do that very thing. I fought back in the 80s for a 20-80 split. But they went away from that when they let no- residents first in the second through 4th draw now in some areas the get as 60%. Other states put the resident hunter first but not Colorado

  7. Follow the money.. CPW needs the non resident cash flow to survive.. if non resident tags are reduced, residents will need to pick up the slack in higher tag prices or increases in other state taxes. When residents are willing to pay $600 for an elk tag, the non resident hunters no longer matter.

    • Then double the cost of nonresident tags, only fair. Residents pay taxes and contribute to the economy throughout the year, not just a weekend out of the year.

      • Nonresidents pay taxes and contribute to the Colorado economy every day of the year… Here is a big fact….43.8% of Colorado’s States Budget is paid for out of Federal Funds….. That is money paid by nonresidents that goes to the Federal Treasury and is distributed back to the citizens of the Great State of Colorado. If this money did not support Colorado, Colorado’s Citizens would have their taxes increased by 43.8% to maintain their States Services……

        • Fact, this is about resident access to OTC archery tags. Any reference.to economic impact is specifically in reference to nonresident hunters not nonresidents tax contributions majority(second homeowners in resort communities)! I would gladly pay more for a resident tags to not deal with the likes of you in the woods.

  8. Nice work gathering the data and speaking up for Colorado resident hunters. It is despicable how little CPW listens to or considers Colorado resident hunter’s interests when it makes decisions. Your argument that it was ridiculous for CPW to address the overcrowding issues by cutting back on both resident and nonresident OTC tags is spot on. Obviously the vast majority of the overcrowding issue was from OTC nonresident tags. But your CPW simply ignored this fact. Arizona I think is the gold standard in the west when it comes to following its public trust obligations to its resident hunters. The allocation of the vast majority of big game tags is by public draw with a hard cap of 10% for nonresident hunters. AZ has no outfitter draw set asides and no landowner permits and the only OTC tags are for archery deer. When the number of archery OTC deer tags became unsustainable AZ properly considered its resident hunters first and foremost in the solution it implemented. It left resident archery deer tags as unlimited for resident hunters but capped the nonresident OTC archery deer tags at 10% of the total by making them first come first serve with a cap of 10% of the total residents plus nonresident archery OTC tags. AZ also implemented a harvest quota by GMU for archery deer harvest. Archery deer Hunters have to report when they kill and once the harvest quota is met for a GMU it is closed to archery deer hunting. By caping the nonresident OTC tag cap at 10% the Arizona game commission intentionally made it so 90% of the archery deer harvest quota would be met by resident hunter harvest.it was a beautiful example of a western state following its public trust obligations and putting the interests of its resident hunting opportunity far and away above private and nonresident hunters. Colorado CPW as you elegantly demonstrated went an entirely different route than AZ and just shoved your formerly OTC tags into your draw system that is extremely favorable to nonresident hunters and landowners with your insanely high nonresident tag quotas and landowner tag set asides. We have a real and growing problem in the west with our game commissions and legislatures selling out to nonresident preference organizations, outfitters, and landowners and giving up far to much of our hunting opportunity to unceasingly wealthier nonresident hunters and relatively few residents that turn a buck servicing them. It defies the most basic public trust doctrine principles that clearly dictate that all non migratory wildlife is owned by residents of each state and is held a trust, a public trust, by the state for the exclusive benefit of only the residents of the state.

    But I don’t think Colorado is as unique in this as you might believe. Ignoring resident hunter interests in favor of landowners and the outfitting industry is a growing trend across the west. I live in New Mexico and have closely followed this nonresident preference issue for nearly 30 years. It’s difficult to make an apples to apples comparison between Colorado and New Mexico allocations. But one area that New Mexico has Colorado beat in a negative sense is in how we achieve such a high ratio of nonresident tags compared to the other western states. It is done through privatization of the tags themselves through our outfitter draw set asides and enormous number of private landowner permits. Both of these are nearly exclusively bought by nonresidents. This is not because they are specifically set aside for nonresidents. It is because there are far more nonresident hunters than resident hunters and when the bar to obtain tags is the highest ability to pay, nonresidents swamp residents in acquiring the tags. The results is that in New Mexico only 55% of all elk tags are acquired by New Mexico resident hunter by public draw that has not paid a private individual, an outfitter or landowner, to obtain the tag. Using AZ again as a comparison 92% of all elk tags issued are obtained by a resident hunter by public draw without paying an outfitter or landowner to obtain the tag. 55% NM vs 92% AZ. Imagine.

  9. Thank you Mr. Siegfried, for your efforts and work standing up for resident archery hunters. I have contacted the commission multiple times, most recently this weekend with the email below. This is 100 percent a nonresident overcrowding issue, the commission needs to cap nonresident tags and increase the price of those tags.

    First and foremost, thank you for allowing me to provide this comment as well as for your time. As a Colorado resident, taxpayer and sportsperson, I was disappointed to hear the direction the commission was headed regarding the potential further limiting of archery hunting opportunities. Specifically, the potential elimination of OTC licenses for resident archery which seems to be misguided and flies directly against the majority opinion of resident sportspersons. This overlooks the actual problem which is overcrowding by nonresident hunters; when there is only one state in the country, Colorado, who offers OTC unlimited tags for elk, this is clearly the problem. I have hunted archery in Colorado for the past few years and can largely attribute any overcrowding to nonresident hunters, statistics clearly show this and my personal experience backs this up. Any solutions to overcrowding should be directed at limiting the impact of nonresident hunters; they should not focus on limiting resident hunter opportunities further. Further eliminating archery OTC units promotes overcrowding in the remaining units; this seems flawed as a management strategy.

    There are multiple models utilized by Western states that do a much better job ensuring access and opportunities to tags for resident hunters while ensuring nonresidents are accounted for still. You should look at Arizona’s model for archery OTC deer tags, where they reserve a percentage of OTC tags for nonresidents based on resident sales. This results in a cap that limits overcrowding and pressure, while still procuring needed operational revenue. In this model you could increase nonresident price tags as well, nonresident hunters have demonstrated year after year they are willing to pay the increase for the opportunity to hunt elk in Colorado. This seems more than fair, local resident hunters contribute far more to the state and local economies overall throughout the year than nonresident hunters. Please look at options that do not further limit Coloradoans hunting opportunities.

    Archery hunting elk OTC has allowed for my family to get out each year in the field. Through this process we have been able to establish a greater appreciation and respect for nature while becoming more in tune with our natural surroundings. We have been blessed to harvest animals that in turn have provided organic meat for our family through many seasons and promoted a further appreciation of our resources. Some years we have not harvested an animal, but the experience is just as important and considered a success. This has contributed to an overall improvement in our health and wellbeing.

    It is becoming clearer with the direction of the commission meetings that Colorado sportspersons and specifically resident archery hunters are not being heard. This potential decision to limit access to this type of hunting, organic meat and way of life has the potential to lead to my family relocating to a state that values their sportspeople by ensuring hunting opportunities. My wife is a special education teacher and I work for a local municipality; this would largely impact our community for the worse by eliminating essential workers as well as the dollars annually we contribute to the local economy including hunting/fishing licenses. Often a dollar amount is attributed to the need to cater to nonresident hunters because of the impact to the economy; if people like my family are forced to leave due to the lack of hunting opportunity, this would be sure to have a much larger fiscal impact overall. We also as residents buy multiple hunting licenses, a fishing license, shop locally and do our part to boost the local economy daily; we are not here for a weekend. Please consider the long term impact that a poor decision on archery tag allocation could potentially have for sportspersons and the state of Colorado.

    Lately, it feels as a Colorado sportsperson, we are constantly under attack. This is getting very old and quick; it is sad to me that I would have to spend a morning on my day off to try justify maintaining access to organic meat for my family and an opportunity to get outdoors. Fewer and fewer hunting opportunities, limited access to state/federal lands and constant threats to my way of life have made this exhausting. Please do the right thing and address the actual issue regarding OTC archery tags and overcrowding; place a cap or limit on nonresident hunters. I would gladly pay a few more dollars per license to ensure the opportunity to hunt elk with my bow annually. Thank you for your time and please consider the overall impacts of further limiting resident archery hunting opportunities.

  10. According to the 73th Colorado State Assembly the State budget was 55.9 billion dollars. Of this total, Federal Funds are 43.8 % of your total Budget, making the amount of money funding your State by nonresidents at about 24.48 billion dollars. That Sir is not income from taxes paid by nonresident second homeowners but from Federal Income Tax. Nonresident home property tax income would come under Local and State Property Taxes which does not distinguish between residency status but is counted in the State Tax category…..

    • Thank you, Mr Feldner.. if Colorado residents had to pay their own bills they might have a different view.. and, if Colorado residents were to step up and pay what non residents pay for tags, the CPW could eliminate all non resident tags. None of this will matter when the wolves have killed all elk, deer and moose in the state.

  11. THOMAS L KENYON

    SAD BUT SO TRUE, SEEMS NON-RESDENTS PAY THE BILLS

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