5 Reliable Spots for Hunting Antelope in Colorado
Antelope hunting can be one of the most fun and challenging experiences that a big game hunter can have. In this post we will cover 5 areas of Colorado that will provide reliable success for hunters, whether you are a seasoned veteran or just leaning the sport, including my personal favorite.
Colorado is home to millions of acres of prime pronghorn antelope habitat. Here are 5 reliable spots with high degrees of success: Comanche National Grasslands, Browns Park State Wildlife Areas, Routt National Forest, La Jara Reservoir Sate Trust Land, Pawnee National Grasslands.
While each of these areas have plenty of available hunting space, they also boast nearby or adjacent BLM (Bureau of Land Management) lands that can be accessed for great hunting opportunities. Keep reading to learn in detail about these 5 reliable spots. These areas are in no particular order, and each feature pros and cons, but all are reliable.
Comanche National Grasslands
The Comanche National Grasslands is located in the south central and southeast corner of the state of Colorado. The Comanche’s 443,784 acres is located across several counties and spread across 8 GMU’s. Given those parameters there are plenty of opportunities for obtaining an antelope tag. However the best GMU’s for success are in units 135 and 130 both with success rates for regular rifle season over 50%.
Like the Pawnee National Grasslands, the Comanche is interspersed with private and other state lands. A current map or GPS device or service is recommend. The terrain of the Comanche National Grasslands include more elevation changes, so long range visibility may be limited in some sections.
Interested hunters should plan on needing a few preference points to draw successfully for bucks as the units have on average have fewer than 200 tags available. Doe tags are much more plentiful with high degrees of drawing success based on figures from the state for the 2019 and 2020 hunting seasons. Drawing a tag for these units generally requires 1-2 preference points for Doe and 3-4 points for bucks for the regular rifle season. Private land tags are available can be obtained fairly easily, but permission to private lands will be required.
Antelope hunters will want to focus on hunting areas in the Timpas portion of the grasslands. The Timpas area is the north/west portion of the Comanche National Grasslands, located near the cites of La Junta and Rocky Ford, Colorado. Camping is available as well as lodging in the nearby cities of La Junta, Rocky Ford, and Las Animas. The drive time from the cities to the hunting areas can be long, so if you are planning to be in place before sunrise you will need to leave early.
Should you wish to explore the Carizzo or south/east unit of the grasslands, you’ll want to focus on the western portion of the Carizzo unit. This terrain will be the best habitat for Pronghorn according to the US Forest Services website. Local cities include Kim, Pritchett and Springfield, Colorado. This area also included a dedicated public shooting range, should you need to sight in your rifle.
Both areas of the Comanche national grassland are fairly remote, so hunters should plan accordingly. Many of the nearby towns are very small, so coming prepared is a must. Finding ammo for less common calibers may be challenging. The largest nearby city is Pueblo Colorado, which is a 2.5 hour drive depending on where in the grasslands you may be.
Being further south in the state, hunters can expect the weather to be in the low 70’s or higher during the day with lows around 40 degrees at night. The Comanche National Grasslands is fairly remote, so hunters should be prepared with coolers, and ice to keep the game until processing. Temperatures can vary wildly from sunrise to sunset, so layers or multiple jacket options may be needed. Like much of the great plains windy conditions are possible, and are frequent in the afternoon and evening. Hunters should be prepared for a windy shot.
Browns Park and Cold Springs Mountain
Located in the very northwest corner of the state of Colorado, bordering Utah to west and Wyoming to the north, the Browns Park and Cold Springs Mountain wildlife areas offer some of the finest hunting and highest success rates in the entire state for pronghorn antelope. Plentiful amounts of BLM lands are also present in the area.
Units 201 and 10 are the prime locations though GMU 2 also offers high success. However this comes at the cost of only a few available licenses available each year. Hunters for this area can expect to need at least 20 preference points to draw in these highly sought after areas. Unit 201 boasted an impressive 80 percent success rate for the regular rife season, while unit 10 had a 100% success rate for the 2020 hunting season. Unit 2, was lower but still a respectable 50%.
Check the current regulations should you draw to hunt in these areas. The Browns Park National Wildlife refuge has some additional regulations beyond the typical state rules. Should you be scouting the Cold Springs Mountain areas, a current fishing or hunting license is required to access state wildlife areas in the state of Colorado.
This area is incredibly remote. The nearest towns include Dinosaur and Rangely, Colorado, Vernal, Utah and Green River, Wyoming. Hunters will need to plan ahead for all their needs as you will be hours from the closest city. Temperatures in October range in the 60’s for the highs and mid to low 30’s for the low. Camping and RV areas are available. Should additional entertainment be needed outside of the hunting itself, Dinosaur National Monument is very nearby and worth a visit.
Terrain tends to be hilly, bordering on mountainous in some areas. The best place to look for antelope will be in the broad open valley areas between the hills and mountains.
Routt National Forest – North Central Colorado
The Routt and Medicine Bow National forest with its bordering BLM lands is another highly successful area for hunting antelope. While this north central Colorado area at first glance wouldn’t appear to be ideal pronghorn antelope territory, the high mountain valleys and meadows area actually much lower in elevation that one might expect. Elevations of 6000′ – 8000′ feet above sea level are normal, with the extremes being over 10,000′ in order to cross the continental divide.
Spread across several GMU’s, success rates for most areas were above 60% for the regular rifle season. GMU’s such as 3, 4, 5, 6, 161, 214, 441 offer plenty of public lands for tracking down pronghorn antelope. So many opportunities exist for this area that we can split into two reliable parts: East of the continental divide and West of the divide.
East of the continental divide, game management units 161 and 6 are great options for a reliable antelope hunt. Split by the town of Walden, thousands of acres of BLM lands and even some national forest land are available for hunting antelope. A high mountain plain, surrounded by tall mountain peaks, the area is prime antelope habitat. Area 6 and 161 had success rates of 86% and 92% in the regular rifle season for 2020. Hunters should plan on at least 14-15 preference points for a buck tag in these units. Doe tags will require a minimum of 3 points.
With elevations around 8000′ above sea level, day time temperatures can be expected to be in the upper 50’s and low 60’s. By the first week of October, overnight lows below freezing are common. Hunter should be prepared for 30 degree temperature swings. Walden offers lodging and several restaurants, and some entertainment. Camping areas are plentiful in both the Routt and Roosevelt national forests.
West of the continental divide, game management units 3 and 4 may be the ideal candidates as they have hundreds of tags available in the draw and had an 78% or better success rate for the 2020 hunting season, according to statistics from the Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife. Hunters should expect to have 3 preference points for doe tags and 9 points for bucks. The remaining units, 214, 441 all have exceptionally high success rates but hunters should plan on needing 19 or more preference points as the units have a limited number of licenses available.
Centered around the city of Craig, Colorado, hunters can expect to find plenty of BLM, state wildlife areas, and national forest to hunt antelope. Like on the east side of the divide, the terrain is fairly flat, open valleys and meadows nestled between mountains. Craig provides ample services and lodging. Camping is easy to find, and will place you closer to the prime hunting grounds.
Elevations around 6000′ will put early October temperatures in the low 60’s for highs, and overnight lows can dip below freezing. Hunters should be prepare for unexpected weather changes in this area. Light snow is possible in the early fall. A current map or GPS service is recommend to make sure you are staying on the public lands.
La Jara Reservoir State Wildlife Area
The La Jara Reservoir state wildlife area is another great antelope hunting location. Located in GMU unit 81 this highly sought after location has a limited number of tags issued each year, but boasts a success rate of 93% for the 2020 regular rifle season. As mentioned antelope tags are limited and 14 or more preference points are generally required to draw. Prospective hunters should note that currently only buck tags are available for this game management unit.
Located one hour west of Alamosa, LA Jara Reservoir is a hunters paradise. Early October temperatures will vary, but one can expect average temps are around 60 degrees for the high and 34 for the low. Camping areas area available and the nearby cities of Monte Vista, Alamosa, and La Jara offer plenty of nearby amenities or lodging.
The terrain of the state wildlife areas is hilly with open meadows and valleys. Creeks and small lakes sustain an ideal habitat for pronghorn antelope. Hunters will want to focus on the east side of the area where the land opens up a bit more and allows for more wide open views and flatter terrain.
Just East of the La Jara wildlife area is also the Hot Creek State Wildlife area and BLM lands. Prospective hunters will want to focus on the Poso section of the Hot Creek area, Terrain here is flatter than La Jara but is equally as inviting to antelope.
As with other state wildlife areas in Colorado, during hunter seasons a valid hunting or fishing license is required to access the area, even for scouting or hiking. While the opportunities for tags are limited, the high probability of success may just be worth the wait.
Pawnee National Grasslands
This is my personal favorite spot due to its close proximity to my hometown, amount of public hunting land and high rate of success both in drawing a tag and in harvesting an antelope.
The Pawnee national grasslands has over 193,000 acres of public land. Most of the this land can be hunted on, and is prime pronghorn antelope habitat. The terrain is mostly flat with some rolling hills which allows for great visibility. Use of a current grasslands map available from the local field office or GPS services like OnX maps is recommend as the public lands are interspersed with private and no public access state trust lands.
With huge open spaces, and long visibility, locating and stalking pronghorn antelope is easily achieved. Opening hunting weekend will be busy, but if your willing to get out of your vehicle and hike into some of the larger sections of hunting land, pressure from “road hunters” will often drive the pronghorn antelope right into you.
Road hunting is the method of driving up and down the roads around the hunting lands looking for antelope. This practice is common for this area, and can be very effective, however my experience has been better when I get out of the vehicle and allow other hunters to push the antelope into the middle of open spaces, where I’ve already setup.
This area covers Colorado Game Management Units (GMU’s) 87,88,89, all of which had a success rate of 69% or higher for the regular rifle season. Doe tags are generally easy to obtain with 1-2 preference points and often can be obtained with zero points, but not guaranteed . Bucks may generally require at least 1 and sometimes 3 or more points depending on the specific game management unit. Ease of drawing in these units is high due to the plentiful amount of tags available.
Nearby cities and amenities are plentiful for the Pawnee National Grasslands. For services or lodging consider, Greeley, Fort Morgan, or Brush, all of which are short drives into prime hunting area. Weather for the hunting season is generally mild. Coolers and Ice is needed as daytime temperatures can be in the lower 70’s this time of year in northern Colorado. Morning temps are usually in the 40’s so layering is important if you wish get out of your vehicle in order to get centered into your hunting space early.
Opening weekend is in early October and usually runs about one week. This area can experience strong winds, so practice for windy conditions would be a good idea. Pawnee National Grasslands has improved campgrounds that can be reserved, but dispersed camping is also allowed. There is an established free public shooting range available for sighting in rifles if needed.
Unit, Preference Point, and Success chart
Below is a chart showing the Game management units discussed. Information was obtained from the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website. Preference points are the general minimum required to begin to draw a tag. More points that listed may be required to draw. Success rate is the combined success rate of both bucks and does for all regular rifle seasons. Additional information can be found here: https://cpw.state.co.us/thingstodo/Pages/Statistics-Pronghorn.aspx
points for Doe
points for Buck
Regular Rifle Season