Can I Carry A Handgun While Bow Hunting in Colorado?

Hunting Attorney Nathaniel Gilbert on a public land pheasant hunt in 2016.  Nathaniel is a fierce advocate for outdoorsman both in the courtroom and in the field.  Having been raised hunting and fishing, Nathaniel understands the issues and obstacles facing sportsmen and women and dedicates a majority of his legal practice to defending the rights of hunting and fishing advocates in Colorado, Kansas, and nationwide.

Hunting Attorney Nathaniel Gilbert on a public land pheasant hunt in 2016.  Nathaniel is a fierce advocate for outdoorsman both in the courtroom and in the field.  Having been raised hunting and fishing, Nathaniel understands the issues and obstacles facing sportsmen and women and dedicates a majority of his legal practice to defending the rights of hunting and fishing advocates in Colorado, Kansas, and nationwide.

Yes.  Colorado Revised Statute 18-12-204(3)(a)(ii) states that any person lawfully able to possess a handgun may carry that handgun while engaged in the act of hunting without obtaining a permit for the handgun.

When you are actively engaged in the act of hunting, and desire to carry a handgun, Colorado statutes allow you to do so.  Carry, in the context of the statute, applies to the carrying of the handgun and explicitly states that the handgun shall not be considered concealed.  However, the sidearm may not be used to take any animals unless it meets the requirements specified for that hunting season. 

This means that the sidearm you are permitted to carry must not be for the purpose of taking game.  The authorization for the use and carry of a sidearm in this respect is for the strict purpose of self-defense.  It may never be used to "finish off," or otherwise "take" an animal.  For example, it may not be used as a “backup sidearm” in order to shoot or finish off an elk or deer taken during rifle season, unless it meets the definition of rifle: at a minimum, it must have a four-inch barrel, fire an expanding bullet of .24 caliber (6 mm) or larger and use a load that produces a minimum 550 ft. pounds of energy at 50 yards. Shoulder stocks or other attachments are prohibited.  Likewise, a handgun authorized under this statute may not be used during the archery or muzzleloader season unless the handgun meets the definition of legal equipment for that season.

Handgun is defined in Colorado Revised Statutes as: "a pistol, revolver, or other firearm of any description, loaded or unloaded, from which any shot, bullet, or other missile can be discharged, the length of the barrel of which, not including any revolving, detachable, or magazine breech, does not exceed twelve inches."  Using the definition provided here, the number of handguns included in the legal definition of handgun is extensive, but is nonetheless important to reference when deciding on the pistol that you wish to carry during your hunting trip in Colorado.   

If you are planning your archery, muzzleloader, or rifle hunting trip in Colorado and wish to carry a sidearm, consult the rules of the place you are going, including any local ordinances or federal rules regarding the carrying of a firearm.  If you receive a hunting violation or are charged with a crime for carrying a handgun, you must consult with an attorney before making any decisions about paying the fine or pleading guilty to the charges.  Firearm offenses can have lasting impact on your ability to possess firearms in the future and jeopardize your hunting seasons.  Hunting Attorney Nathaniel Gilbert helps hunters and firearm owners maintain their rights through dedicated representation and advocacy.  If you or a member of your group receive a ticket or are charged with a crime, consulting with Nathaniel can help guide you through the process and hopefully maintain your hunting and firearm rights for years to come.