Yes and no. Technically, guides do not need licenses in Colorado to provide guiding services for fishing and hunting trips. However, unlicensed guides must be employed or contracted by licensed outfitters. Outfitters must be licensed in Colorado if they are providing outfitting services on land that they do not personally own. So really, yes, there must be a license involved somewhere in order to guide in Colorado.
Outfitting Services are defined under Colorado Revised Statutes 12-55.5-102 as the provision of transportation of individuals, equipment, supplies, or wildlife by means of vehicle, vessel, or pack animal, facilities including but not limited to tents, cabins, camp gear, food, or similar supplies, equipment, or accommodations, and guiding, leading, packing, protecting, supervising, instructing or training persons or groups of persons in the take or attempted take of wildlife. Anyone providing any services that meet with this definition needs a license in order to do so. Colorado Revised Statutes actually specify that anyone providing outfitting services on land they do not own needs an outfitters license, so if you provide outfitting services on your own property, you should be fine.
Guides do not need to have individual licenses while they are in the employ of a licensed outfitter. A guide who has been hired to provide outfitting services by a licensed outfitter does not himself need to register as an outfitter in order to provide outfitting services. Guides must be at least 18 years of age, and hold either a valid first aid or first aid instructor’s card issued by the American Red Cross or evidence of equivalent training as approved by the director. Additionally, it is illegal for anyone who has had their outfitter registration revoked or suspended to work as a guide in Colorado.
If you are starting an outfitting or guiding service in Colorado, you must review the rules, policies, and laws provided by the Department of Regulatory Outfitters in relation to Outfitters. Colorado laws are very strict as to the provision of outfitting services for hunting and fishing outfitters, and failing to meet the requirements of Colorado law can mean steep financial penalties and felony convictions. Consult with Outfitter Attorney Nathaniel Gilbert on forming your organization and setting up your hunting or fishing outfitting operation or club. Nathaniel has consulted and worked with some of the largest and most exclusive hunting operations in the State as well as smaller individual organizations offering only a few hunts per year and is partnered with Outfitter Protection Services, providing nationwide outfitter services. Whether reviewing your leases, employment contracts, and hunt contracts, or starting a completely new business, Nathaniel Gilbert can help make the most of your outfitter opportunity!