What To Hunt (& Where To Hunt) In Costilla County, CO

Costilla County, couched within the San Luis Valley in south-central Colorado, stretches over almost 1,227 square miles. With the arrival of Europeans in the late 1600s, it became formally established on April 5, 1851, and remains the oldest continuously occupied settlement in Colorado.

The county attracts a lot of Americans looking to build an off-the-grid homestead because land prices are reasonable and, despite low precipitation, it’s well suited for crop cultivation and the raising of livestock.

Costilla County also teams with wildlife, making it a prime destination for hunters and fishermen.

Fishing in Costilla County

The Rio Grande, one of Colorado’s best-known rivers, snakes its way through southern Colorado. With many good access points to the river, the river attracts many fishermen and has a robust fly-fishing community. Not only is it a fun place to fish, but it’s also home to some large trout, too–the Grande Truchas!

The headwater of the Rio Grande starts at around 12,000 feet elevation in the majestic San Juan Mountains. The river runs through forest land for the first 25 miles and the water is mostly wadable. A lot of varieties of trouts live in these waters, including some surprisingly big browns.

Traveling further down the river toward South Fork about 30 miles, there’s a mix of public and private land. You can access the river, however, from the US forest and Colorado State Wildlife Areas. These spots are ideal for dry fishing in the summertime when hatches abound and the water is low.

Hunting GMU 83

Colorado is broken up into game management units, and the GMU with one of the largest elk herds is GMU 83, located in Costilla County. The Trinchera elk herd has an estimated population of around 7,000 elk. Deer and antelope are also abundant in the area, and it holds a large population of grouse.

GMU 83 has over 4,500 acres of common land that can be used by owners for hunting. And hunting is allowed with permission. However, Colorado law prohibits shooting within a quarter mile of occupied land or shooting across roads.

Also, GMU 83 allows archery and muzzle-loaded hunting every year in September. Many hunters have had great success harvesting prize worthy elk.

Residency and Colorado Parks & Wildlife Products

Even a quick scan of the hunting license fees shows that Colorado residents get the best deals on permits. So here’s a run-down of what it takes to claim Colorado residency.

  • Standard Colorado Residence:
    • Requirements:
      • Customer must live in Colorado for at least 6 consecutive months prior to buying or applying for any resident CPW product
      • Customer must have their primary residence in Colorado and have not applied for or purchased a resident license or pass outside of Colorado in the last 6 months
    • Proof: Current and Valid Colorado driver’s license/ID with a Colorado address issued 6 or more months prior. If the Colorado driver’s license/ID is not 6 months old, the customer must provide at least two forms of additional residency proof, as outlined in “Additional Residency Proofs” below.
  • Student–Attending school full-time in Colorado
    • Requirements: Customer must be attending school full time at an accredited Colorado school starting at least 6 months prior to buying or applying for any resident CPW product
    • Proof: Student ID number, the name of the institution, date customer became a full-time student, school transcript showing full-time status
  • Student–Attending school full-time outside of Colorado
    • Requirements: Customer must meet Colorado residency requirements and be attending an accredited school outside of Colorado, paying nonresident tuition.
    • Proof: Student ID number, the name of the institution, date customer became a full-time student, proof of out-of-state tuition payment.
  • Military–Stationed in Colorado
    • Requirements:
      • Customer must be active-duty military stationed in Colorado (including their spouse/dependents).
      • Residency begins the date the orders begin.
    • Proof: Military ID and Orders.
  • Military–Colorado home of record
    • Requirements: Customer must be active-duty military stationed outside of Colorado, but with Colorado as their home of record, paying income tax as a Colorado resident (includes spouse/dependents).
    • Proof: Military ID and Orders.
  • Youth
    • Children under the age of 18 have the same residency status as their parent, legal guardian or person with whom they live the majority of the time per court order.
  • Other residency information:
    • Additional residency proofs: Customers who otherwise meet residency requirements but whose Colorado driver’s license or ID was issued or renewed less than 6 months ago, or who have a CPW-approved religious exemption to photo identification on their record, must provide at least two additional proofs of residency. Those proofs include income sources (pay stubs), utility bills, state income tax documents (as a full-time resident), lease agreements/rent receipts, motor vehicle registration, voter registration.
    • Multiple homes: If you have a home in Colorado and another location, call 303-297-1192 to make sure you comply with Colorado residency requirements before obtaining a CPW license or state park pass.

Resources for Hunting Colorado

The first and best resource for hunting and fishing in Colorado is the Colorado Parks & Wildlife webpage.

Buried in that website, you’ll eventually stumble on a link to one of the most useful tools to plan your hunting trip–the Colorado Hunting Atlas. Not only will the atlas provide valuable information on big game migration patterns, but also gives insights into species concentration, as well.

If you’re planning a big game hunting trip in 2019, you’ll need to hurry. This helpful pdf, 2019 Colorado Big Game, outlines all the applications and fees you’ll need for your preparations.

Colorado Parks & Wildlife also published this handy Big Game Hunting Planner that provides application dates and fees in an easy to read format.

If you’re more interested in sheep or goat hunting, then 2019 Colorado Sheep & Goat will have all the info you need.

Where to Get Land for Your Colorado Hunting Basecamp

There’s a lot of good reasons hunters flock to Costilla County. However, with 99% of land privately owned, it’s going to get tougher to find a spot to set up camp on your hunting adventures. Let the experts at Generation Family Properties help.

Click Here to Check Out Our Currently Available Properties in Colorado

Our goal is to find a piece of land your family will enjoy for generations to come. Contact us at 775-234-2058, and we will happily answer all your questions and provide additional information to help you decide if off the grid living is right for you.

Photos Credits:
By seth schulte, Sebastian Pociecha , Greysen Johnson,
Nicolai Dürbaum, & Byron Johnson on Unsplash