What is shed hunting?
As hunters, we’re always looking for ways to be in the outdoors. During the fall, and later months of the year, we’re usually hunting an animal of some kind. However, in the spring, we have to be a little more creative. Especially the big game hunters.
Luckily for us, the animals we chase in September and October shed their antlers every year. For someone that isn’t involved in the hunting world, this can be quite difficult to understand. Especially when you look at the size of an elk’s antlers. They are huge! It is truly amazing that they can regrow them every year, but they do.
Once a deer or elk sheds their antlers, we as outdoor enthusiast have the opportunity to walk the hills and pick them up. Why would someone do that? There are several reasons:
- We love being in the outdoors.
- Shed antlers can actually generate an income. They can be sold to antler buyers throughout the country, which then turns them into decorations or sends them overseas to become dog chew toys.
- It allows us to scout the territory where these animals live.
There are many more reasons than these, but these are a few of the top reasons that I enjoy shed hunting.
Where can you shed hunt?
Now that you know the reasons to shed hunt, you may be thinking to yourself, “I’m going to head and out and find me some sheds.” Shed hunting has become just that, a hunt, and the government has decided it is something that needs to be regulated. Whether you agree with that or not, it is something that a lot of states are doing. So before you head to the mountains to find you some “brown gold”, let me go over a few of the western state’s regulations.
Utah is a great state for shed hunting; however, before you hit the mountains and valleys, there are a few things you’ll need to know. Before picking up sheds in Utah, you must first complete the Division of Wildlife Resources’ Antler Gathering Ethics course. It is a free course and can be found at wildlife.utah.gov/shedantler. Once you complete the course, you can print off your certificate showing that it’s completed, and you’re all set. The course will teach you several tips, tricks, and will educate you on respecting the wildlife during the winter/spring months.
One other thing to note with Utah is collecting antlers still attached to the skulls. We call them “deadheads”. When you find a deadhead, don’t touch it. A poacher may have killed it, and the DWR will want to do their investigation on the animal. If you do come across one, be sure you do the following: take photos of it from several angles, obtain the GPS coordinates, report it to the DWR office, and give them any details that you feel necessary. Hopefully, once the DWR completes their investigation, they will let you go retrieve the deadhead and take it home.
Colorado is another great state for shed hunting. Again, there are regulations associated with the pursuit though. Colorado has a date restriction on when you can shed hunt, and there are a fine and surcharge that is given if you are found possessing shed antlers prior to the authorized dates. The dates for Colorado are limited to the public lands west of I-25. Shed hunting is prohibited from January 1stto April 30th, annually. Public lands east of I-25 are free game for obtaining shed antlers. The caveat there is, there isn’t much public land east of I-25. It’s mostly private. Colorado also has a time restriction in the Gunnison Basin from May 1st to May 15th. Shed hunters are not allowed to be shed hunting from sunset to 10 a.m. This includes units 54,55,66,67, and 551.
There are no major laws for Arizona in regards to shed hunting. There is no course requirement or date requirements. However, there are laws associated with gathering deadheads. They are similar to the laws in Utah, and I would recommend doing the same things in Arizona if you find a deadhead as in Utah.
Nevada is similar to Colorado with the date restrictions. For the counties of Elko, Eureka, Lander, Lincoln, Nye or White Pine, shed hunting is prohibited from January 1st to April 30th.
So as the weather begins to improve over the next several months, and you get over that winter blues, get out and shed hunt. It’s a great opportunity to take your kids out, your wife out, or anyone else that loves to be outdoors, and hike the mountains. It’s also a great way to get some good exercise as you start to train for your upcoming hunts this year.
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