Winter Antler Collectors Must Learn Gathering Ethics

SUMMIT COUNTY, Utah. — ‘Shed hunters’ gathering antlers from February 1 to April 15 in Utah must complete the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources’ Antler Gathering Ethics Course, as this time is the most challenging time for deer, elk, and moose.

“During winter, big game animals, especially deer, often have a difficult time finding food,” DWR Captain Wyatt Bubak said in a statement. “If you spook an animal and cause it to run, the animal has to use up its fat reserves and the energy it needs to make it through the winter.”

Each winter, antlers fall from the heads of male deer, elk, and moose. They begin growing new ones when spring comes along. The shedding of antlers creates a popular winter pastime in Utah, according to the DWR. 

But winter is also the time when big game animals’ habitat is wet and easily damaged. The free, required antler gathering ethics course teaches collectors how to gather antlers without stressing the animals or damaging their habitat. 

Find the free course on the DWR website. A certificate of completion must be printed and carried while gathering antlers. After April 15, there’s no requirement to complete the course. 

While gathering, it’s important to double-check for any Wildlife Management Area closures. Also, gathering antlers on private land requires written permission from the landowner. Or there’s a risk of receiving a citation.

If antlers or horns are still attached to the skull or dead animal, there’s a chance the animal was poached. DWR asks that gathers don’t touch the skull and avoid disturbing the area with footprints. The following steps help the DWR conservation officer to investigate:

  • Take numerous photos of the skull from multiple angles.
  • Use GPS coordinates to pinpoint the location of the skull.
  • Report the findings to the nearest DWR office.
  • Remember specific details for the report.

Call the nearest DWR office for more information about gathering shed antlers in Utah.

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