is antler hunting?
Male deer, elk and moose grow impressive antlers
each year, some reaching impressive sizes by mating season in the fall. These
antlers eventually fall off in the late winter/early spring, and the cycle begins
again. The size of the antler rack usually gets larger each year as the animal
grows and matures. The dropped antlers, or sheds, are sought by people who enjoy
getting out for recreation and finding a 'treasure' and by people who sell the
antlers to those who use them for commercial purposes. The activity of going out
and searching for shed antlers is called antler hunting. For some people in Wyoming
it is a casual sport, for others it is a competitive business.
laws related to antler hunting (updated April, 2011)
In July, 2009, the Wyoming Legislature enacted a law giving the
Wyoming Game and Fish Department the power to regulate the collection of shed
in western Wyoming. According to the new law, its purpose is "To
regulate and control the collection of shed antlers and horns of big game animals
for the purpose of minimizing the harassment or disturbance of big game populations
on public lands west of the Continental Divide any time between January 1
through April 30 of each year." State lands are not considered public
property, so this regulation does not apply to Wyoming state land west
of the Continental
Divide. Antler hunting is permitted between May 1st to December
31st on these lands. A game tag is no longer required to take shed antlers
across state lines. If you wish to collect antlers found still
attached to a skull, contact the Game & Fish and these can often be collected
paying a nominal game fee ($8 in 2011)
here for more details on this new law: New
Antler Season in place
To find out if the area in which you wish
to antler hunt is open to public presence and antler hunting, contact
Pinedale Field office of the Wyoming Game & Fish, 307-367-4352.
are antlers shed?
Mule deer typically shed their antlers midwinter,
in January and February. Most elk shed their antlers in February and March. However,
some animals of both species may retain their antlers into April. Younger animals
retain their antlers longer than older animals. It also appears that animals in
good condition drop their antlers earlier than animals in poor shape. Shed antlers
typically don't last more than a year in the wild. Rodents and other animals like
to chew on them to get the calcium and by summer not much is usually left. It
is also rare to find a matching set of antlers near each other in the same location,
as the antlers typically drop independently from one another.
between antlers and horns
Animals such as pronghorn antelope and
bison have horns instead of antlers, which stay permanently on their heads and
are not shed. Pronghorn
antelope do shed their horn shells every year and grow new ones, so antler hunters
may find the black, hollow, fibrous horn sheaths when out antler hunting. These
are ok to keep.
Sheep, goat and bison are the only ones to keep horns
only way to get horns is to retrieve them from
the carcass of a dead animal, which often requires meeting hunting license
is sometimes called "horn hunting" (even though they are
really looking for antlers, not horns).
hunting - Horn hunting
Antler hunting can be
a fun and enjoyable activity for the whole family. Many people do it each year
to get outside on nice spring-like winter days and fend off cabin fever from
the long winter.
Wyoming Game and
Fish officials ask that antler hunters be aware that winters are hard on
the animals also. Their energy reserves very depleted. Prospective antler
hunters are asked to keep their distance from wintering animals to minimize
stress and disturbance on winter ranges. Some areas of public land have restrictions
between January 1 and April 30 on when and where human presence is allowed,
so be sure to know the rules for the area in which you wish to go antler
and off-road presence may be prohibited in certain winter range areas between
certain dates. Permission is required from landowners to go onto private land
to search for antlers. G&F walk-in hunting and fishing areas are only open
to hunting and fishing and are closed to antler hunting.
stress to wintering animals while antler hunting
when done after the elk and deer have shed their antlers and left their winter
ranges does not pose a problem to wintering big game. However, displacing deer
and elk from their winter habitat is the most serious of all problems associated
with antler hunting in early spring. Give animals plenty of space. Stay away from
areas you know that are "holding" elk and deer, and do not intentionally
move them. Disturbance causes stress at a time when cows and does are heavy with
calves and fawns.
to go antler hunting?
Avid antler hunters learn to spend the winter
months watching the herds and observing where the big bucks are spending their
time. Deer typically move to the open sagebrush areas on exposures where there
is food and snow isn't too deep. Elk tend to stay on south-facing slopes and near
elk feed grounds areas in the winter until their food sources free up of snow.
Moose antlers are typically found near riparian corridors. Most antler hunters
scout antler hunting areas well in advance, learning the areas where the animals
overwinter, and carefully selecting their antler hunting locations based on where
the animals have been observed. Locations change, so we can't tell you exact locations
where you might have the best luck. A big part of the fun of "the hunt"
is the preliminary scouting process and watching the herds to find the big bucks
and waiting for their antlers to drop. "I know it has to be around here somewhere
because he still had it yesterday," is a common remark of dedicated horn
hunters. Experienced antler hunters learn to scan the sagebrush and quickly spot
the distinct bleached white color of shed antlers on the ground. Many people make
this a family event, taking the kids out with them year after year for family
recreation enjoying the outdoors and scenery.
To find out if
the area in which you wish to antler hunt is open to public presence and
antler hunting, contact the Pinedale Field office of the Wyoming Game & Fish,
Contact the Wyoming Game & Fish Department for more information about
hunting in Wyoming: http://gf.state.wy.us
Hunting Season is May 1 to Dec. 31 on public lands west of the Continental
Divide in Wyoming. Antler hunting is prohibited between January
1 through April 30th.
more info, call the Pinedale Office of Wyoming Game & Fish, 307-367-4352.
in winter range
here for info on Big Game Hunting
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