UTAH — With February around the corner, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources reminds those interested in gathering shed antlers between February 1 and April 15 to take the free mandatory Antler Gathering Ethics course.
Shed hunting is a popular pastime for many, with mule deer, elk, and moose all dropping antlers during the winter before growing a new set starting in the spring. Problems arise when looking for sheds in that all wildlife species are in survival mode, trying to make it through the winter, and are already stressed.
“During winter, big game animals, especially deer, often have a difficult time finding food,” said Chad Bettridge, DWR law enforcement captain. “As a result, they often survive on fat reserves they have built up before winter. If the animals are receiving constant pressure from people and repeatedly having to run or move, the animal has to use up those fat reserves and energy it needs to make it through the winter.”
Around 20,000 people take the mandatory course each year to look for shed antlers in the state. Upon completion of the course, a certificate will be issued that must be printed and carried with you while shed hunting.
The shed hunting season is subject to the condition of local deer populations, as DWR can decide to close the season if it deems that the conditions are too stressful. Additional patrols will ensure that people aren’t disturbing wintering wildlife. Citations will be issued to those who have not taken the Mandatory Antler Gathering Ethics Course or are found to be harassing wildlife.
If you find a skull with antlers attached while looking for sheds, the DWR has asked that you not move the skill or disturb the area, as the animal could have been poached. You should take photos of the scene and the skull, take a GPS signal of the location and report it to the nearest DWR office or text 847411.