Everything You Need to Know About the Colorado Ranching for Wildlife Program

Everything You Need to Know About the Colorado Ranching for Wildlife Program

No hunting property in Colorado is complete without the Ranching for Wildlife program. This in-depth program enables private landowners to provide public hunting access on their land. Essentially, you’ll get ranch income opportunities, and the state gets help with animal population and land management.

So what does this mean for Colorado ranches? Well, thanks to this program, you’ve got a unique opportunity to not only own a Colorado hunting property but to also use your property to produce income too.

What is the Colorado Ranching for Wildlife Program?

Ranching for Wildlife (RFW) program for Colorado lands organizes hunting access to private ranches. Much like a regular home, private Colorado ranches are not otherwise open to the public.

The RFW program encourages private landowners to open their properties to public hunters from Colorado who draw licenses. Participating landowners agree to provide healthier open space habitat.

Hunters love this system because this often means they can embark on a more private hunting trip. Many of the Colorado ranches that participate in the Ranching for Wildlife program offer top-notch services for visiting hunters (more on that in a minute).

Where Does the Ranching for Wildlife Money Go?

The result is a win-win for the Colorado land agencies, private landowners, and wildlife. Maximizing the hunting tags on your property promotes healthy wildlife management, a vital aspect to your ranch management plan.

Meanwhile, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Services obtains valuable capital used for the continued preservation of your most coveted hunting spots. Did you know that licenses and passes account for 55% of the funding for Colorado Parks and Wildlife? Out of the total revenue, 20% of expenditures are put back into habitat management with both fishing and hunting taking up 15% of the expenditure share.

The Ranching for Wildlife alliance helps keep the hunting heritage alive in Colorado. The more land available means the more hunting tags to go around. As a result, it has boosted public access to over 1.2 million acres. Seasons and license allocations are in place to increase hunter harvest on member ranches and public lands.

And lastly, the public gains a unique opportunity to hunt on private property. As an added bonus, as a Colorado ranch owner, you can score a few extra bucks in your pocket too.


ranching for wildlife

How Does the Ranching for Wildlife Program Work?

In order to get started with the Ranching for Wildlife Program, you’ll first need to find a Colorado hunting property that comes with hunting tags. Some properties already have a pre-determined number of tags for specific species. Purchasing a property with these items already in place makes the process much easier.

However, if you don’t have a pre-determined number of tags, landowners negotiate with the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Department (CPW). The parties determine how many licenses will be issued and for what species.

Landowners agree to improve habitat for game animals and non-game animals alike. This means you’ll need a plan in place to keep your hunting ranch land in healthy, working shape. RFW has successfully improved active wildlife habitat on over 50,000 acres annually.

From proper ranch fencing to water access, there is a lot to consider. Don’t worry, there are several important resources to help you maintain your hunting ranch. Many of the best practices for ranch maintenance aid in creating healthy animal habitats.

ranching for wildlife

What is the Purpose of Ranching for Wildlife?

Starting in 1986, the purpose of the RFW was twofold: 1) To improve access to private lands for hunters, and 2) to form a wildlife management partnership with participating landowners. the Ranching for Wildlife Program enables both landowners and the parks service to gain access to funds through tag sales and hunting tourism.

The government gets the vital funding it needs for things like trail management, access management, fire mitigation, and conservation efforts. While landowners can run successful hunting businesses right from their very own dream property.

The program now enrolls 28 ranches across the state. Ranching for Wildlife is also responsible for improving the grazing systems for livestock on 85 percent of these enrolled ranches. Essentially you upkeep healthier land, and you’ll also benefit with your livestock too.

Over 30 percent of participating ranches donate the profits from hunting tags to conservation organizations. This money is used to improve habitat elsewhere.

As a result, Colorado has a healthy hunting and outdoor recreation program that is built to last for generations to come. It’s a true partnership that has been wildly successful in managing the land.

The older program also has ironed out a lot of kinks, making it easier for you to join and benefit from the program.

How Hunters Help Manage Wildlife

Hunters assist all parties to manage wildlife populations. For centuries, hunters help manage wildlife to keep populations at a sustainable level.

The result is a healthy, happy landscape here in Colorado. By keeping animal numbers manageable, Colorado has fewer issues with over-grazing, invasive animal species, and rampant wildlife populations. We couldn’t do this without the help from our fellow hunters.

However, there are a few ground rules for the program. Participating hunters must be residents of Colorado and obtain licenses through the Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s draw process.

Draws happen at different times of the year for different species. Many people wait in line for years to access some of the most coveted species draws, like bighorn sheep and bear.

Licenses for the RFW are specific to species and the ranch. The species offered by individual ranches vary, depending on the location of the ranch, size of the property, and other factors. The complete list of species includes elk, deer, pronghorn, black bear, turkey, moose, and bighorn sheep. A set of rules developed by each landowner will be given to the winning licensee.


ranching for wildlife

Buying a Colorado Hunting Ranch

One of the biggest things to consider when buying a hunting ranch in Colorado applying for the Ranching for Wildlife Program. If you plan on sharing your tags, then it will be easier to start your hunting ranch search with ranches that already have ample tags to apply for the program. Alternatively, you can look for a legacy property that already participates.

We strongly recommend this route for those who are interested in for-profit, hunting hospitality ranches. Since many of these properties already have the infrastructure (lodging, access, etc) for your visiting hunters.

Using Your Hunting Ranch for Profit

As with any for-profit entity, you’ll want a solid business plan in place. Along with your ranch management plan, you’ll need both a marketing and business plan for your profitable hunting ranch.

Keep in mind that using your hunting property for profit is a business. The Colorado Ranching for Wildlife Program is just one aspect of your business model. Ensure you’ve got the right plan in place and be willing to adjust as your programs grow.

Have a solid understanding of your core market. Who are you selling to? Bear and bighorn tags? Or elk and deer? What level of luxury do you cater to. The DIY bunch or a full-on white-glove hunting service? Understand proper hunting ethics and what it means for your RFW property.

Colorado Ranches Welcome Hunters

Ranches and ranch personnel agree to welcome the hunting guests and provide advice on the best locations to harvest animals and hunting strategies. After each hunt, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff contact numerous hunters, surveying their level of satisfaction with the services of the private landholders.

This allows both the ranch and Colorado Parks and Wildlife to continue to improve their program. The end result is a better, healthier, more wild Colorado for everyone.

Overall, participating in the Ranching for Wildlife Program is a rewarding way to be a steward of the land. Give back and join this unique partnership. Together, you can actively participate in conservation efforts to protect the places you love the most.

We Specialize in Hunting Ranches in Colorado

Work with an experienced Colorado land broker to ensure that you find the right hunting property to suit your needs. There’s so much to consider when buying a hunting ranch and it’s essential to have the right team at your side. Experience and understanding of the local markets go a long way towards making the buying process easier.

As avid Colorado hunters ourselves, we take this process seriously. Also, we have in-depth, local knowledge to assist you with finding the perfect ranch.


Harrigan Land Company

Related posts

How to Hook Whitefish in Montana Trout Waters

As a fisherman, there is nothing more frustrating than casting your line, reeling in an exciting...

Continue reading
by ColoradoSEOpros

Ten Best Flies for Fishing Rocky Mountain Waters

The goal for any fisherman is to catch a fish on every river he or she fishes. While some just have...

Continue reading
by ColoradoSEOpros

Safety Tips & Tricks for Fly Fisherman

As peaceful as spending a day casting a line on the river may sound, there are always risks and...

Continue reading
by ColoradoSEOpros

                                                        Pin It on Pinterest