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Elk Management
Elk at Ron Stewart Preserve

Elk Management

Boulder County works closely with Colorado Parks and Wildlife to manage elk using a variety of tools.

Ron Stewart Preserve at Rabbit Mountain Elk & Vegetation Management Plan

Ron Stewart Preserve Elk Management

Boulder County manages elk at Ron Stewart Preserve at Rabbit Mountain using limited hunting and other resource management tools.

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Red Hill Elk Herd

Red Hill Elk Management

Boulder County manages elk in the Red Hill management area using limited hunting and other resource management tools.

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hunters

Info for Hunters

Frequently asked questions about hunting on open space.

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Information for Hunters

Individuals interested in hunting Boulder County open space must first apply for and obtain a subunit license (E-F-020-L3-R) through the Colorado Parks and Wildlife primary draw. Secondary draw licenses (formerly leftover licenses), GMU 20 limited licenses, and youth hunters are not eligible to participate.

Subunit Tag E-F-020-L3-R License Holders

Boulder County will receive the list of subunit license holders in early June from Colorado Parks and Wildlife. On June 17, we will email all eligible license holders instructions for how they can declare their interest to participate in the Boulder County hunting program. The deadline to declare interest is June 30. Recipients will be asked to follow a link, provide their contact information, and declare whether they want to hunt Ron Stewart Preserve, Red Hill, or both.

From those that declare interest, we will then conduct a random draw of hunters on July 1 to receive a one-week access pass to hunt Boulder County property. This is the only way to hunt open space. No recreational hunting is permitted. The subunit expanded in 2020, adding substantial area south of CO Hwy 66. The number of licenses available increased to 400. The 2021 total will be 400 as well, and is expected to sell out. We had 283 hunters put in for the 2020-2021 hunts. We had 95 slots available and chose 30 alternates. Thirteen hunters drew both areas – so it was really 82 hunters drawing successfully out of the 283 (29%). In 2021-2022, there will be 84 slots available along with 30 alternates between the two hunts. Alternates are important due to withdrawals and proficiency failures.

Season Dates

  • Hunting at Red Hill will be held Aug. 16 through Oct. 30.
  • Hunting at Ron Stewart Preserve at Rabbit Mountain will be held Sept. 20 through Jan. 30.

Chronic Wasting Disease

For the 2021-2022 hunt season, subunit E-F-020-L3-R has been selected for mandatory Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) testing by Colorado Parks and Wildlife. All hunters who successfully harvest an elk in the E-F-020-L3-R subunit are required to submit their elk head to a submission site for testing. There will be no charge for mandatory testing. Learn where and how to submit a CWD sample.

Hunting at Both Ron Stewart Preserve and Red Hill

You may declare interest in hunting both Ron Stewart Preserve and Red Hill. If drawn for both, you must attend both on-site orientations and both shooting proficiency tests. Once the calendar opens, if you have drawn both, you may choose to hunt on different weeks or the same week depending on what slots are available. The calendar sign-up system is first-come, first-served. Please remember that your tag is good for one animal only.

Methods of Take

For hunting at Ron Stewart Preserve, only centerfire rifles are permitted. Non-lead ammunition is required.

For hunting at Red Hill, only shotgun slug, muzzleloader, and archery will be permitted. Non-lead ammunition is required. Shotgun slug and muzzleloader will be permitted throughout the hunting area. Archery will be restricted to areas west of US Highway 36 only.

See page 14 of the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Big Game Brochure for more information on legal methods of take and compliance with Colorado state regulations. Please note that firearm regulations for this hunt are more permissive than state regulations regarding muzzleloaders. Because the E-F-020-L-R license is a rifle season, hunters who have qualified to use muzzleloaders are also permitted to use scopes, sabots, and pelletized powder. This hunt also allows for the use of muzzleloaders and archery equipment outside of the general elk muzzleloader and archery seasons for the state.

Selected Hunters & Alternates

Once the draw is conducted, we will notify everyone via email whether they were selected, selected as an alternate, or not selected.

Selected – Those that were selected will be provided access to an online calendar system, which will open to all recipients at a specific date and time. Hunters will choose their week and sign up for an orientation via the calendar system. Securing a slot is first-come, first-served.

Alternates – Those that were selected as an alternate will be given the opportunity to sign up for any remaining slots that have not been claimed a week after the calendar first opened. If there are no remaining slots, alternates will be called on in the order they were drawn if a hunter drops out.

Not Selected – Those that were not selected may attempt to access private land within the subunit with landowner permission or submit their tag for a refund (deadline July 15).

Orientation

All selected participants, including alternates, are required to attend an on-site orientation. Hunters who completed the orientation last year are eligible to complete an online orientation. Orientation dates will be selected soon and can be reserved via the online calendar system when participants select their hunting week. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, site tours will be limited.

There will likely be three orientations for each hunt again this year. All of the 2020 Red Hill orientations were in August. The three Ron Stewart Preserve orientations were in September and October.

Shooting Proficiency Tests

The shooting proficiency tests will be administered by Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff. You will be contacted via email by Colorado Parks and Wildlife to sign up for a shooting proficiency date. Hunters must pass their proficiency test using their intended method of take and lead-free ammunition. More details about the qualifications will be provided in the email.

The following are requirements and suggestions for various methods of take permitted in the Red Hill elk management program. Hunters must use the method of take with which they passed their proficiency test.

Shotguns
Shotguns must comply with Colorado state regulations regarding legal shotguns as a method of take for big game. Shotguns are permitted throughout the hunt area, including areas east and west of US Highway 36.

In addition, the following are required:

  • All ammunition must be lead-free
  • Shotguns must be 12 gauge minimum

While not required, the following are recommended:

  • Use of slugs at least 300 grains
  • Use of scopes
  • Use of rifled barrels

Muzzleloaders
Muzzleloaders must comply with Colorado state regulations regarding legal muzzleloaders as a method of take for big game during the rifle season (no .40 to .49 caliber). Muzzleloaders are permitted throughout the hunt area, including areas east and west of US Highway 36.

In addition, the following are required:

  • All ammunition must be lead-free
  • No round ball ammunition

While not required, the following are recommended:

  • Use of scopes
  • Use of sabots
  • Use of pelletized powder

Archery
Archery equipment must comply with Colorado state regulations regarding legal bows and arrows as a method of take for big game during the rifle season. Crossbows are not permitted. Archery is permitted ONLY in areas west of US Highway 36.

In addition, the following are required:

  • Arrows must weigh a minimum of 400 grains
  • Broadheads must be the fixed type (no mechanical broadheads)
  • Minimum draw weight for bows is 50 pounds

Scouting the Area

Ron Stewart Preserve is open to the public and you are allowed to scout on foot any areas open to the public outside of the hunting season (this does not include Indian Mountain and the Cushman property). During the hunting season, you may scout Thursday-Sunday only. You may not bring a weapon.

The Red Hill hunting area is closed to the public and special permission is required before scouting the area on foot. More information about scouting the Red Hill hunting area will be made available in the coming weeks.

Scouting either hunting area from the road is acceptable if a traffic hazard is not created.

Subunit Boundaries

Details of the subunit boundary can be found on the subunit map. The subunit boundary contains areas of open space that are not within the marked hunt boundary of the program and depicted on the maps provided in the hunter packet. You cannot hunt those areas.

Hunting Within Other Areas of the Subunit

Ron Stewart Preserve and Red Hill are the only public lands within the subunit that allow hunting. If you are interested in hunting private land, you must contact the landowner to receive permission.

Contact Us

Parks & Open Space

Jon DeCoste
720-526-8029