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State offers important reminder on shed antlers

Feb 12, 2024 09:48AM ● By Braden Nelsen

It doesn’t take much to be certified to gather beautiful antlers like these. Photo courtesy of Utah DWR

MORGAN—Following the hunting season, the deer, elk, and moose around the state drop their antlers, and while it seems like it would be easy enough to just go out and collect these, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) wants to remind people of some important information surrounding these antlers. 

Those wishing to collect antlers from big game around the state must complete the 2024 Utah Division of Wildlife Resources’ Antler Gathering Ethics course for collecting these antlers between Feb. 1 and April 15. While picking up these discarded antlers may seem harmless, there are important things people need to know about wildlife before they go out into the wilderness to grab them. 

“During winter, big game animals, especially deer, often have a difficult time finding food,” DWR Once-In-A-Lifetime Species Coordinator Rusty Robinson said. “As a result, they often survive on fat reserves they have built up prior to winter. If the animals receive constant pressure from people and repeatedly have to run or move, they use up the fat reserves and energy they need to make it through the winter. Being disturbed briefly once or twice isn’t too significant, but we have over 20,000 people who routinely shed hunt in Utah each year, so ongoing, repeated disturbances can be detrimental to deer.” 

The ethics course provided by the DWR is a good way to learn how to have the least impact possible while gathering these discarded antlers, both to the environment and to the animals living there. For those that want to gather antlers between Feb. 1 and April 15, the course is mandatory, but, residents who wait until April 16 and on can gather antlers without taking the course.

After finishing the course, participants must either:

• Store the certificate of completion in the DWR Hunting and Fishing app

• Print your certificate of completion and carry it with you in the field while “shed hunting” 

Completing the course and having the certificate of completion allows residents to gather antlers in many locations across Utah. However, some notable exceptions include: 

• Wildlife management areas: Many of the state’s wildlife management areas are closed in the winter and spring to protect animals and their habitat. Make sure to double-check for any closures before entering a WMA to gather shed antlers. A list of Utah’s wildlife management areas and any seasonal closures can be found on the DWR website. 

• Private property: You must have written permission from the landowner before gathering antlers on private land.

• Native American lands, national parks and many national monuments are also closed to antler and horn gathering. 

Another important tip the DWR offers is the reporting of what have been called, “deadheads,” or skulls with the antlers or horns still attached. It’s important to report these as it’s possible these animals have been poached. These skulls need to be left in place, and the footprints undisturbed so DWR agents can examine the evidence. Reporting can be made either through the DWR website or through the new app:

Download the app when you have cellphone service. Once it is downloaded, a report can be submitted from the field even without cellphone service. To submit a report on the app, please include:

• Your DWR customer ID

• A GPS location of the skull

• Photos of the animal and surrounding scene

• Other important details

Important reminders like these go a long way toward the conservation and preservation of wilderness areas, habitats, and the animals that live in them. More information on these and other regulations can be found at the DWR website. λ

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