Hunting in Gunnison and Crested Butte is a big game paradise. Trophy elk and mule deer, as well black bear, mountain lion, moose, big horn sheep, and antelope are all options for the hunt of a lifetime in some of the most beautiful country you’ve ever seen.

Small game hunting in the Gunnison basin can be pretty spectacular too. Gunnison County is just smaller than Connecticut, but is 80% public lands. Hunt for coyotes in miles of sage, or chase bobcats through the high alpine tundra and spruce forests.


Game management units are the specific regions in which you will be hunting. All lottery applications will have you specify a GMU. There are 3 GMU’s to look into if you are planning a hunting trip to Gunnison or Crested Butte. Almost all of them include an opportunity to hunt in designated Wilderness Areas.

GMU 54: This unit is located between the left side of Highway 135 North and the middle of the West Elk Wilderness. Be prepared to hunt above treeline during the early season and move lower as it gets colder. The lower elevations of this unit are private ranch land for the most part.

GMU 55: Located on the other side of Highway 135 from Unit 54 this unit contains a spectacular amount of public land. Stretching from Schofield Pass to Cottonwood Pass it is large and contains a lot of nooks and crannies. Expect to hunt above 9,000 feet for the most part, although having a private landowner tag during lower elevation late season hunts can help your odds significantly.

GMU 67: Unit 67 covers a large swath of Bureau of Land Management land south of Gunnison and extending to the La Garita Mountains. It’s rolling mountains, plains of sagebrush, and dark timber stands have a rich history of elk hunting.

The Castles, Gunnison Colorado
The Castles, Gunnison Colorado


Big game licensing in Colorado is not easily explained and is probably best done by Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Tags and licenses are split very specifically into game management units, sex, method of take, and season. Most of these specific tags are available through a weighted lottery system. Application to the weighted lottery generally has a deadline of early April every year.

Did you miss the lottery deadline and still want to hunt? Don’t worry, Colorado Parks and Wildlife does sell over-the-counter tags for some species like elk and deer. Contacting a guide service is a great way to increase your chances of a successful hunt, as well as provide you with the correct licensing information that you need.


Be sure to check out the other fall and summer activities Crested Butte and Gunnison have to offer. We have stellar mountain biking trails and an abundance of hiking trails, rivers to raft and fish, rocks to climb, good food to eat, and cool towns to see. Check out our activities page to learn more!


Whether you’re looking for a cabin or a condo, a hostel or a traditional hotel, we’ve got you covered for a vacation rental. Visit our Lodging page to learn more!


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