Staff at Colorado Parks and Wildlife offices statewide are bracing for two of the biggest days of the year: "OTC" day on July 25 and "leftover" day on Aug. 1.
CPW staff say OTC day - the first day hunting licenses can be bought on an "over-the-counter" basis - is just a warm-up for leftover day when lines form days in advance, resembling crowds awaiting the opening of a Hollywood blockbuster or to buy the newest smartphone gadget. People camp out at CPW offices to ensure they get first shot at prime hunting licenses leftover from the draw.
The excitement over the start of hunting season begins on OTC day. Many of the 500,000 or so who hunt in Colorado request licenses through a draw system. The draw is the only way to buy mule deer licenses. And it's also a way to get bear, elk, whitetail deer and pronghorn licenses. Typically, there is far more demand than available licenses.
Others, however, simply buy their elk, bear, whitetail deer and pronghorn licenses over-the-counter at CPW's 18 offices or at other retail outlets. And it is usually a busy day.
Various CPW offices handle the welcome crush of business in different ways. The CPW office in Salida makes it a party, cooking breakfast burritos on site and providing coffee to the hunters.
"We have done this for the past 14 years and is always well-received by the hunters," said Jim Aragon, area wildlife manager in Salida. "I think some people really don't care if they get the license they were looking for as long as the burritos are there."
Visitors to the CPW offices in Lamar and Pueblo will find doughnuts and coffee or water.
In the Southeast Region office in Colorado Springs, the staff is more focused on serving customers as quickly as possible, given the high volume of traffic expected that morning.
"Bear licenses are the biggest attraction on OTC day," said Michelle Mulrony, lead customer service representative in the Southeast Region offices. "People are very excited about the start of the hunting season. They want their license right away."
It's fun, she said, and the fun is only just getting started. Wait until leftover day hits Aug. 1.
"Leftover day is huge," Mulrony said. "We had people 50 deep last year waiting for leftover day."
The line for leftover licenses will form at the glass classroom entrance doors on the east side of the building. In recent years, tents have circled the Southeast Region building at 4255 Sinton Road in Colorado Springs. Portable restrooms were brought in to accommodate the campers.
The crowds come because leftover day is a chance to buy tags that were previously offered during the draw and often represent prime hunting opportunities.
"During the draw process, you can only take one tag per species," Mulrony said. "Leftover day is the only way to get another tag from the same species."
There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work to prepare for leftover day. Mulrony will convert the CPW's Hunters Education classroom into a war room to handle the crush.
"It's organized chaos," she said, describing how 30 CPW staff members - or nearly everyone in the Southeast Region office - will pitch in to help.
She asks hunters to come prepared. At check-in, they will be asked to fill out a sheet indicating what they want to buy, what licenses they hold, whether they've completed a hunter's education course and other questions. The hunters will be processed by CPW staff who will do computer searches to check for conflicts, such as whether their licenses are suspended.
"Last year, we sold 297 licenses on leftover day," she said.
Follow this link to CPW's OTC and Leftover license page for more details.
And here is a list of things to remember:
If you are planning on purchasing a license, be sure to have the following:
- Your driver's license/state issued identification card,
- Proof of hunter education: hunter education card or a Colorado hunting license with verified hunter education,
- Your social security number (anyone 12 years of age and older are required to give their social security number, if not already on file),
- Your customer identification number (CID), if you have previously purchased a license in Colorado,
- Proof of residency , if you are planning to purchase a resident license,
- A prioritized list of hunt codes for licenses you are interested in.
If purchasing a license for someone else (can only be done IN PERSON), the buyer must bring the following for the hunter:
- A clear copy of both sides of their driver's license/state issued identification card,
- A clear copy of both sides of t heir hunter education card or a previous Colorado hunting license with verified hunter education,
- Their social security number (anyone 12 years of age and older are required to give their social security number, if not already on file),
- Their customer identification number (CID), if they have previously purchased a license in Colorado,
- A prioritized list of hunt codes they are interested in.
IMPORTANT: One cannot buy a license for someone else over the phone. The option to buy for someone else only works in person.