Since the mid-1980's, the Air Force Academy has used hunting to manage the base's deer and elk population to protect habitat, promote animal health, and reduce vehicle-wildlife accidents or other human conflicts. Presently there are herds of approximately 200 deer and 45 elk residing on the base. Limited turkey hunting is also offered through the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Rookie Sportsman program for novice hunters. Annual population and harvest objectives for the Academy (Game Management Unit 512) is closely coordinated with Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologists. The Academy's past hunter harvest data is summarized here.
There is no small game, waterfowl, prairie dog, furbearer, black bear, or mountain lion hunting.
A full description of Colorado's hunting opportunities, regulations, and game application process is available here.
Information on hunter education classes is provided here.
General Guidelines and Procedures
Hunting is open to the general public; there is no license preference given to active duty military, veterans, youth, or disabled hunters. In addition to a State game license, a base hunting access permit ($25 elk, $15 deer, $10 turkey) is required and must be purchased by going to Login/Register on this website.
For safety and security reasons, hunters are escorted by Air Force Academy, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff, or other approved volunteers. Under the direction of an escort, hunters may pursue game throughout their scheduled hunt, but are encouraged to harvest an animal as soon as possible. The escorts direct hunters to the prime hunting areas, but public safety and security often dictate when and where hunting can occur. Escorts can provide helpful instructions, but hunters are expected to know how to operate their firearm and the basics of field dressing game.
Hunters must receive a safety briefing and sign a liability waiver on the first day of the scheduled hunt.
A firearm may be discharged only after the escort has determined that the target presents a safe and reasonable shot based on distance, direction, and physical backstop. Hunters not complying with the escort's directions, or otherwise hunting in an unsafe or unethical manner, will have their access permit revoked.
Hunting is not allowed at Farish Recreation Area, which is within Game Management Unit 511. Areas open for hunting on the Air Force Academy are shown here. The hunting units cover many different types of habitat, terrain, and ease of walk-in or drive-in access. Hunters must be physically capable of pursuing game - especially wounded animals - over steep, uneven ground while still demonstrating appropriate hunting skills and safety procedures.
Mule Deer and White-Tailed Deer
Deer hunting is offered over two weekends (Saturday-Monday) in December prior to the Christmas holiday. Hunters must draw a GMU 512 (Air Force Academy) deer license through the Colorado Parks and Wildlife application process. Each year 15 buck and 15 doe licenses are drawn for GMU 512. Hunters who successfully draw an Academy deer license will receive a letter from the base with detailed instructions. In 2016, a minimum of 10 preference points was needed to draw a resident buck license and 2 points for a doe license.
The 2017 deer huns will occur on December 9-11 and 16-18.
A centerfire rifle meeting the state's requirements is the only authorized method of deer hunting on the Air Force Academy.
Cow elk hunting is offered from October 1 through January 31 if the herd exceeds the Academy's population target. To enter a lottery drawing for an over-the-counter cow elk license, you must sign up here between January 1st and May 31st and pay a $6 non-refundable fee. The first ten randomly drawn applicants are notified by letter in mid-June and then contacted in priority order when the season begins. Successful applicants will receive a cow elk voucher from Natural Resources to purchase a State license through a licensing agent. The cow elk licenses are additional tags (State "A" license) and do not require preference points to be drawn. Since 2001, an average of 5 elk per year have been harvested in GMU 512.
There is no guarantee that if you are one of the first ten drawn applicants you will receive a license voucher. Elk hunting is only conducted as-needed to meet population and habitat objectives.
In most cases, hunters are expected to be available to hunt on short notice (12-24 hours) when the elk are observed on base. Hunters may decline an opportunity to hunt only once and still retain their priority ranking. Natural Resources tries to accommodate work schedules, vacations, illness, school commitments, etc., to the extent possible.
A centerfire rifle meeting the state's requirements is the only authorized method of cow elk hunting on the Air Force Academy.
A limited number of over-the-counter spring turkey licenses are available for the Air Force Academy. To be eligible, applicants must participate in the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Rookie Sportsman program for novice hunters. All of the Academy's permit fees, guidelines, and procedures discussed above are applicable to this State-sponsored hunting program.
A shotgun, hand-held bow, or crossbow meeting the state's requirements are the only authorized methods of turkey hunting on the Air Force Academy.
Wildlife Salvage List
Every year a number of deer and elk are struck by vehicles on the Academy, and many of these animals are salvageable for human consumption. Each August, Natural Resources holds an in-person sign-up (one sign-up per household) at our office (Building 9030) to create a wildlife salvage list. A new list of 30 names is solicited each year to keep the contact information up-to-date. Watch the Home page for information on the next August sign-up date. The 10th Security Forces and Natural Resources contact persons from the list in priority order to pick-up any salvageable animals. All animals must be salvaged promptly as they are not field dressed.