These are the top 1% most elusive elk hunts in Colorado based on preference point requirements for residents. The hunts are the best of the best, the perfect storm where dreams of trophy bulls and high success rates can become reality.

Many of these elusive hunts occur on Ranching for Wildlife properties, and Ranching for Wildlife licenses are open to Colorado residents only. The Colorado Parks and Wildlife website is the best resource to learn about these unique areas, but here is the basic overview from the CPW website...

Ranching for Wildlife (RFW) is a wildlife management partnership between Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) and owners of large tracts of private land. A minimum of 12,000 acres of contiguous private deeded land is the minimum amount of land required for enrollment. Landowners improve habitat on their ranch for both game and non-game animals. They provide public hunting recreation access to their land free of charge to those who draw licenses. These efforts help preserve and enhance open spaces for wildlife to live and thrive and encourage keeping our hunting heritage alive for you and future generations.

So, let's assume you have quite a few preference points burning a hole in your pocket, and you're ready to cash in. Here's a list of Colorado's most elusive elk hunts and what it will "cost" you to have the opportunity to tag a trophy elk.

1. EE085W1R

Minimum Preference Points: 22
GMU 85, Sex - Either, 1st Season (Ranching for Wildlife), Rifle

Success: 100% in 2012

Location: This hunt is located on the 19,300 acre Twin Peaks Ranch a Ranching for Wildlife property. The ranch is located in South-Central Colorado 15 miles west of Aguilar on County Rd 46 at the headwaters of the Apishipa River SE of Spanish Peaks.

Terrain and Access: The land slopes to the southeast from an elevation of 9,800 ft. to 7,400 ft. The west and north boundaries of the ranch abut the San Isabel National Forest. Upper elevations are heavily timbered with spruce fir and ponderosa pine, there are rock outcrops and low ridges of oakbrush separating small streams at lower elevations. Ridges and meadows offer open areas. There is ranch road access to most parts of the ranch.

Weather: Variable; expect first freeze or snow from mid-September to mid-October.

2. EE010W1R

Minimum Preference Points: 22
GMU 10, Sex - Either, 1st Season (Ranching for Wildlife), Rifle

Success: 100% in 2012

Location: This hunt is located on the 18,570 acre Three Springs Ranch a Ranching for Wildlife property. Three Springs Ranch is located from the west approximately 30 miles east of Dinosaur on Hwy 40, then approx. 14 miles northwest on Co. Rd. 16. From the east Co. Rd. 16 is located approximately 30 miles west of Maybell on Hwy 40.

Terrain and Access: Elevations vary from 5,000 to 9,000 ft. The ranch is located in the Wolf Creek valley. This drainage flows east and the valley slopes relatively gently to low rides. The primary vegetation is sage flats and pinyon juniper with some mountain browse. Ranch roads provide adequate access to main areas of the ranch. Due to lack of cover, skill at stalking is required. This ranch is located in a remote part of the state that has few services. Hunters should have a fully equipped 4 wheel drive in excellent condition and supplied with emergency equipment.

This ranch is located within GMU 10. This unit is managed as a quality unit for elk by Colorado Parks and Wildlife. The conservative management of this unit enhances the opportunity to harvest older age class bulls on this ranch. Big, 300 + size bulls are common. The elk tend to stay put over the seasons. Movement is weather dependent.

Weather: The weather is generally mild through the later seasons, though the higher elevations can have significant snow accumulations.

3. EE851W1R

Minimum Preference Points: 21
GMU 851, Sex - Either, 1st Season (Ranching for Wildlife), Rifle

Success: 86% in 2012

Location: This hunt is located in South-Central Colorado on the 63,400 acre Hill Ranch near the border of New Mexico. This is a Ranching for Wildlife property and is located approximately 15 miles west of Trinidad on Hwy 109. The ranch also has property to the west in Devils Park.

Terrain and Access: Elevations vary from 6,600 ft. at the confluence of Lorencito Creek and the Purgatorie River and rise to 9,500 ft. in the lower Hill Ranch. Elevations in the Devil Park Pasture vary from 10,500 ft. to 13,700 ft. The lower country is rough, steep canyons covered with mountain shrub and junipers. Upper elevations are heavy juniper/pinyon to Ponderosa pine and spruce/fir. Devils Park area is high elevation with heavily timbered sub-alpine spruce/fir with some meadows. Ranch roads provide adequate access to most major areas of the ranch. Roads can erode with wet weather. Some stream fords are necessary and there are many steep grades. Hunters need minimum 4-wheel drive with 4 chains. Plenty of country to walk on this ranch.

Weather: Variable, but first freeze of snow could occur in mid-Sept. at higher elevations.

4. EE201E1R

Minimum Preference Points: 20
GMU 201, Sex - Either, 1st Early Season, Rifle

Success: 92% success in 2012; 91% success over past 5 yrs

Location: Bounded on N by Wyoming; on E by County Road 10N (Irish Canyon Road), County Highway 318 and County Road 10; on S by County Road 34 and the Green River; and on W by Utah.

Terrain and Access: Sage and sage-grassland dominate, with the typical vegetation groups as the elevation increases. Public land accounts for more than 85% of GMU 201. Big, 300 + size bulls are common. The elk tend to stay put over the seasons. Movement is weather dependent. Overall, elk are scattered in GMUs 2, 10, 201 and the northern portion of GMU 1. When hunting GMU 201, hold out for a good bull. The average size is around 305.

Weather: The weather is generally mild through the later seasons, though the higher elevations can have significant snow accumulations.

5. EE851W2R

Minimum Preference Points: 19
GMU 851, Sex - Either, 2nd Season (Ranching for Wildlife), Rifle

Success: 100% in 2012

Location: This hunt is located on the 21,055 acre Tercio Ranch in South-Central Colorado near the border of New Mexico. This location is a Ranching for Wildlife property and is located six miles south of the town of Stonewall.

Terrain and Access: Elevations vary from 8,000 ft. near the headquarters to just under 10,000 ft. at the highest point on the western boundary. This ranch offers high mountain habitats including open meadows and cottonwood bottoms along the South Fork of the Purgatoire River and forests dominated by ponderosa pine and Douglas fir at higher elevations. A primary system of ranch roads provides adequate access to main portions of the ranch. Roads can become difficult with snow or rain. Hunters need minimum 4-wheel drive with 4 chains.

Weather: Variable, but first freeze of snow could occur in mid-Sept. at higher elevations.

6. EM201O1M

Minimum Preference Points: 19
GMU 201, Sex - Male, 1st Season, Muzzleloader

Success: 18% success in 2012; 58% success over past 5yrs

Location: Bounded on N by Wyoming; on E by County Road 10N (Irish Canyon Road), County Highway 318 and County Road 10; on S by County Road 34 and the Green River; and on W by Utah.

Terrain and Access: Sage and sage-grassland dominate, with the typical vegetation groups as the elevation increases. Public land accounts for more than 85% of GMU 201. Big, 300 + size bulls are common. The elk tend to stay put over the seasons. Movement is weather dependent. Overall, elk are scattered in GMUs 2, 10, 201 and the northern portion of GMU 1. When hunting GMU 201, hold out for a good bull. The average size is around 305.

Weather: The weather is generally mild through the later seasons, though the higher elevations can have significant snow accumulations.

7. EE002E1R

Minimum Preference Points: 18
GMU 2, Sex - Either, 1st Early Season, Rifle

Success: 68% success in 2012; 67% success over past 5 yrs

Location: Bounded on N by Wyoming; on E by Little Snake River; on S by Yampa River; on W by Green River, County Roads 34 & 10, County Highway 318 and County Road 10N (Irish Canyon Road).

Terrain and Access: Sage and sage-grassland dominate, with the typical vegetation groups as the elevation increases. Big, 300 + size bulls are common. The elk tend to stay put over the seasons. Movement is weather dependent. Overall, elk are scattered in GMUs 2, 10, 201 and the northern portion of GMU 1. Try the SW corner.

Weather: Weather is generally mild through the later seasons, though the higher elevations can have significant snow accumulations.

8. EE084W1R

Minimum Preference Points: 18
GMU 84, Sex - Either, 1st Season (Ranching for Wildlife), Rifle

Success: 87% in 2012

Location: This hunt is located on the 55,500 acre Wolf Springs Ranch a Ranching for Wildlife property. The Ranch is 21 miles south of Westcliffe on Hwy 69.

Terrain and Access: The ranch lies at the southern end of the Wet Mountain Valley on the eastern side of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Most of the ranch drains to the east and south by Muddy Creek. About 7,500 acres lies east of Hwy 69. Some of the ranch is cultivated hay-alfalfa fields. Lower elevations are in pinyon pine and open short grass parks. Rising to higher elevations and vegetation of Ponderosa pine, aspen and mixed conifer forests. Access to the ranch is through ranch gates and existing ranch roads but the ranch is hunted best on foot from several parking locations. Ranch is located on east slopes of Sangre de Cristo Mountains south of Westcliffe. Elevations run from 6800 to 9500 ft.

Weather: Extremely variable. First freeze or snow from mid-Oct. in low lands to mid-Sept. in higher areas.

9. EE040W1R

Minimum Preference Points: 18
GMU 40, Sex - Either, 1st Season (Ranching for Wildlife), Rifle

Success: 89% in 2012

Location: This hunt is located on the 21,254 acre Piñon Mesa Ranch. The ranch is located 25 miles west of Grand Junction south and west of Glade Park. Piñon Mesa Ranching for Wildlife association is comprised of 2 ranches.

Terrain and Access: Piñon Mesa is a high elevation mesa located west of the Colorado National Monument. Access to the ranch is through the Monument and west or south of the Glade Park Store. The terrain is relatively gentle with slopes of 20 to 30 degrees with occasional steep canyons with vertical walls. The vegetation varies from spruce-fir/ponderosa timber mixed with aspen groves, oakbrush and sagebrush flats. Normal ranch roads or County roads provide access to most major areas of the ranch. One section of Mt. Island ranch does not allow any vehicles. Bulls will be bugling from mid-Sept through 1st rifle opening weekend. Elk are widely distributed. Most stay high until hunting pressure pushes them to lower elevations and less accessible drainages. Do not hunt areas that have previously received heavy hunting pressure - elk will not be there. Successful hunters do a lot of walking and looking.

Weather: This area starts out mild but mud/snow accumulation is likely in later seasons.

10. EE104W1R

Minimum Preference Points: 18
GMU 104, Sex - Either, 1st Season (Ranching for Wildlife), Rifle

Success: 92% in 2012

Location: This hunt is located on the 66,782 acre Kiowa Creek Ranch. This location is a Ranching for Wildlife property and is located approximately 8 miles SE of Elbert. Elbert is located approximately 35 miles NE of Colorado Springs.

Terrain and Access: Elevations vary from 6,300 to 7,100 ft. The ranch is located on the eastern end of the Palmer Divide in a large basin of grasslands surrounded by Ponderosa Pine covered granite ridges. Ranch roads provide adequate access to main parts of the ranch. These roads can become muddy during wet weather. Hunters should be equipped with 4-wheel drive vehicle. The home ranch of Kiowa Creek is located on the El Paso-Elbert Count line north or Peyton. However, the ranch also includes the Greenland Ranch unit just south of Castle Rock, and most elk hunting occurs on the Greenland Ranch unit or nearby Kiowa Creek holdings. Elk are only occasionally found on the home ranch.

Weather: Climate is semi-arid, with average annual precipitation of approximately 14 to 18 inches per year. Typically there are a few large snow events, mostly in the late winter or early spring. The snowiest months are March and April. A wide range of temperatures and conditions can be experienced during the winter. Warm sunny days are not uncommon, but severe winter storms can occur. Summers in this area tend to be hot and dry. Summer days are often hot, with daily high temperatures reaching the mid- to upper-90s. Daily monsoon rains as afternoon thundershowers are not unusual, but this pattern does not occur in all years. Seventy to eighty percent of annual total precipitation falls during the period of April through September.


What about the other 187 hunts that require preference points? 76 hunts require just one preference point. Another 35 require two preference points. That’s good news for impatient hunters.

Want to see just how big an advantage resident hunters have over non-residents? See our detailed analysis of residents vs. non-residents.

The data for this article was collected from a variety of CPW data sets and hunt planning articles.

Colo Resident Hunts

197
require preference points

111
require 1-2 preference points

10
require 18+ preference points

Non-residents Hunts

166
require preference points

88
require 1-2 preference points

18
require 18+ preference points