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Shed antler hunting season starts next month

Shed antlers collected by Randall Stilson
Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
Shed antlers collected by Randall Stilson

Antler hunting is a popular outdoor activity in Utah, and the Division of Wildlife Resources wants people to understand the dos and don'ts of the pastime. There's a right way to legally collect antlers in Utah.

The DWR requires anyone collecting antlers in Utah to have a certificate showing they completed a free ethics course. Male deer, elk, and moose shed antlers every winter, and because food is scarce and reserves are compromised, it's crucial those out hunting antlers know the regulations around it.

DWR Public Information Officer Faith Heaton-Jolley said the required course explains how the shed hunter can legally search from February 1 until April 15. The ethics course is not necessary if shed hunting after April 15.

Heaton-Jolley said the big game animals live off fat stores, and spooking them or causing exertion can be detrimental to the animal's health.

"If you are out looking for some of these shed antlers, you know, don't disturb the wildlife. You know, don't drive ATVs through muddy areas that may begin to mess up the habitat and ruin plants, things like that. In the winter, they do have a harder time obviously finding food. A lot of it's covered by snow, so they're primarily eating sagebrush. They just don't have as much energy."

Heaton Jolley said if someone wants to shed hunt on private property, they must have written permission from the landowner. Check the DWR website to ensure it is not a designated protected wildlife area.

"So, you can pick up any fallen off antlers that have just been shed from the animal. If you, however, find a skull with antlers, with a skull or the horns still attached, there is a possibility that the animal was maybe killed illegally."

Conservation officers could come to investigate. Heaton Jolley said if someone didn't poach the animal, the conservation officers would allow people to keep what they found.

A link to the free antler hunting ethics course is available on the Utah DWR website.

KPCW reporter Carolyn Murray covers Summit and Wasatch County School Districts. She also reports on wildlife and environmental stories, along with breaking news. Carolyn has been in town since the mid ‘80s and raised two daughters in Park City.