One of the top reasons that Mirr Ranch Group clients desire to purchase Colorado Ranches for Sale is to enjoy big game hunting for elk, deer, or pronghorn on their own private land. As Colorado’s population grows, the number of people hunting and fishing is also quickly increasing. The restricted number of hunting tags, combined with a limited amount of public land on which to hunt, can make the hunting experience somewhat challenging for big game hunters. However, Colorado’s Priority Landowner Preference Program gives ranch owners a distinct advantage when it comes to securing tags in an increasingly competitive and crowded environment.
The Priority Landowner Preference Program gives landowners a better chance than the general public for drawing big game license vouchers by allocating 15% of the general quota of vouchers to landowners who own 160 or more acres. In some Game Management Units (GMUs), this 15% quota provides enough vouchers to supply all of the private landowners who are eligible for preference. However, there are other GMUs in which there are more eligible landowners than there are vouchers, and so vouchers are not guaranteed. While the Preference Program does not 100% guarantee that landowners will always receive tags, it definitely shifts the odds in their favor.
As the landowners’ total deeded acreage increases, the number of potential big game vouchers increases on a sliding scale. The table below shows the number of big game applications that are allowed, as a function of acres owned:
- 160 – 639 acres = 1 application/species
- 640 – 1,199 acres = 2 applications/species
- 1200 – 2,399 acres = 3 applications/species
- 2400 – 3,999 acres = 4 applications/species
- 4000 – 4,999 acres = 5 applications/species
- 5,000 acres or more = 6 applications/species
There are several requirements that must be fulfilled for the ranch to qualify for Landowner Preference. First, the land must be primarily used for agricultural purposes. Second, it much be inhabited by elk, deer, or pronghorn for at least half of the calendar year prior to the application. Finally, the land must be one contiguous parcel and be located within the GMU for which the application is being submitted. For the complete, detailed breakdown of the program’s rules and regulations, visit the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Landowner Preference webpage.
One of our best hunting ranches for sale is Red Hill Ranch, located in the South Park basin, just north of Fairplay, Colorado. The ranch is located at the base of the mountains where dark timber meets the grassland prairie, creating an ideal habitat for elk, deer, and pronghorn. Red Hill Ranch is 2,080 deeded acres and located in GMU 500, a unit well known for large elk that migrate back and forth over the mountains between Park and Summit Counties.
Because of the ranch’s size, the owners of Red Hill Ranch receive nine total preference applications: 3 for elk, 3 for deer, and 3 for pronghorn. Due to the relatively small number of priority landowners in their GMU, they have historically always received the full nine tags for which they have applied. In addition to always drawing tags, they enjoy the ultimate benefit of being able to hunt their own private property, away from the crowds that descend on National Forests during hunting season.
The fact that the Red Hill Ranch owners have been able to consistently secure a large number of tags in a popular, productive, and lottery-based GMU illustrates the significant advantage Colorado’s Priority program gives landowners for procuring hunting tags. If you are looking for a ranch that will qualify for Landowner Preference, don’t hesitate to contact us; we’d be happy to assist you with your search.