Season established to reduce disturbance of ungulates on their winter range-

Antlers and some horns (such as bighorn) are very valuable. There a quite a few “horn hunters” — people who gather them after they have fallen. As a result, there is competition and an incentive to get into the wintering grounds early, often when the animals are still wintering. So the Commission has a season. The horn hunters must wait until April 1 in areas west of the Continental Divide in Wyoming.

State sets limits on hunting antlers. By Cory Hatch, Jackson Hole Daily.

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan's Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of "Hiking Idaho." He also wrote "Beyond the Tetons" and "Backpacking Wyoming's Teton and Washakie Wilderness." He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

15 Responses to Wyoming Game and Fish establishes a season on antler gathering

  1. mikepost says:

    Interesting that there is no concern about the ecological impacts of removing this resource from the wild. Lots of critters use “nature’s mineral block” for their own nutrition.

  2. Robert Hoskins says:

    I don’t often congratulate the WG&F Commission, but this decision has been a long time coming and really is the right thing to do. Many winter ranges of Wyoming are simply overrun by horn hunters, many of them on ATVs.

    To my knowledge, I don’t know of any studies on the question mikepost raises about the ecological impact of removing antlers from the ecosystem. My own gut feel is that horn hunters don’t come anywhere near to taking all the available antlers from the system. I constantly find gnawed antlerson the land.


  3. Cowboy Bob says:

    One of the biggest areas of concern is in SW Wyoming, including the Red Desert, which is now swamped by thousands of off highway vehicle roaming the lands in search of sheds in early spring, even late winter! Almost all of these vehicles come out of the Salt Lake City Megalopolis, which is only a short drive away.

    It is a huge problem, not only for wildlife at their most critical season, but also devastating damage to the land as they ride any and everywhere searching for horns.

    Why is it our nature to discover something and then love it to death?

  4. Jenny says:

    Glad to hear Wyoming is senstive to wintering wildlife. Unlike Idaho, by extending the wolf season they may stress wintering elk and deer that apparently are already being decimated by wolves. ….

  5. harold says:

    Quite a difference between a horn hunt. It is a Antler gathering. Deer have antlers a bufflalo has horns.

  6. Thanks harold,

    I hear it generically called horn hunting. Maybe that is just a local word.

    Of course, horns are not shed, whether they are on a cow or a bighorn sheep. Gathering horns requires maiming the animal (although dehorning cattle is the norm) or removing them from a dead one (such as a bighorn trophy).

  7. Cowboy Bob says:

    The popular, and accepted term in Wyoming anyway is “horn huntin'”. Babies in Wyoming are born knowing the difference between horns and antlers: Horns grow on critters, while all antlers come from chandeliers!

  8. Mike says:

    ++Why is it our nature to discover something and then love it to death?++

    Largely an unevolved sense of self awareness.

    One of the most puzzling things I’ve heard was when I talked to someone who moved from the Bitterroot Valley in Montana to the Paradise Valley. Their reasoning?:

    “Because the Bitterroot was getting too developed”.

    Ok, so then you move to a less developed valley and contribute to that sprawl, contuning that chain? The Bitterroot valley serves a great purpose of keeping the development largely to one area. That’s the place to live in Montana IMHO. You get some nice features of modern civilation, anc then you have one of the biggest wilderness areas in the U.S. a few miles away, and the other biggest wilderness in the U.S. an hour and a half away.

  9. dewey says:

    Unfortunately , this is only half a decision. Since no antler hunting limits were imposed EAST of the Continental Divide, the hardcore antler scabbers will just come over to the Absarokas and Shoshone Forest from the GrosVentre, Wyoming Range, and Bridger Teton forest. Because they have to drive further , they’ll stay longer to find more horns to make it worth their while, adding to an already chronic problem with the existing local antler scabbers. Wildlife harassment by horn hunters has been chronic in the Cody Country for many years. This decision will only make it worse in my neck of the woods.

    Thanks a lot….grrrr……….

    If I have to pay $ 8.00 to harvest a Christmas Tree or $ 15.00 to get a load of firewood, why can’t we license and regulate the horn hunters and hold them accountable, regardless of where they are picking up sheds ? I honestly have no problem with the folks who are casually picking up a few old animal parts for fireplace decor, so long as they don’t harass the game. But the buccaneers doing it for bucks need to be scrutinized.

    “Horn hunting” is the term used in the vernacular. It displays their level of intellect , doesn’t it ? Mountain Lions aren’t lions; Pronghorn aren’t antelope . You don’t want to hear my nomenclature for shed antler scavengers , horn heisters, and skullduggery. They don’t call ‘ em Mountain Trash for nothing….

  10. ProWolf in WY says:

    Cowboy, I agree that the Red Desert gets hit too hard by ATVs. There are some areas that are scarred to bad by that.

    Jenny, that is such a good point to bring up about extending the wolf season and having it disturb wintering ungulates. You know that Fish and Game will not consider that a reason for low fawn/calf recruitment.

  11. Leslie says:

    Dewey, you are right. grrr…the horn hunters already disturb bulls in my valley up in Sunlight, trying to get them to shed. Why they didn’t include our area, which has an elk overwintering herd as well as a resident herd, I don’t understand.

  12. Ronnie says:

    If its anything like I have seen in other areas,, you can’t pick up sheds, but nothing stops people from going out “hiking” with a g.p.s., then going back in the dark, or stashing horns until the 1st when it opens up.. Does anyone know if this new regulation closes the winter range to human presence, or just antler gathering? If it’s just related to antler gathering,, this won’t do a bit of good for the wildlife..

  13. Robert Hoskins says:

    Winter range closures generally run from 1 or 15 December to 1 or 15 May.

  14. josh sutherland says:

    Dewey your generalizations make me laugh. My father-in-law is a “horn hunter” loves doing it. Likes to take walks after the snow melts looking for “horns”. Has a couple of really big sets in his home. As far as his intellect his is a CEO of a great company, probably pays more in taxes than you make. Seems to be okay considering his intellect. You forgot “speed goat” thats what we call proghorn also. We have all sorts of nick names for critters.. like “sage chickens” but they are not chickens, we call chukars “devil birds” since they are always hard to hunt. Anyways we are pretty stupid though, I am surprised I figured out how to type on this computer. 🙂

    But I do agree with these laws and I hope they are enforced more. UT already has laws in place, and I believe they will be making people get licenses to pick up sheds. I have never really had much interest in doing it, I like looking for horns when they are on the deer/elk. Lets just hope they are enforced.

  15. hilljack says:

    Regardless of how they do it the large number of people out following a buck around waiting for him to drop his antlers is getting out of control. In Idaho the king hill area is unbelievable at that time of year. I think this is a great idea and if they can find a way to enforce it other states should follow the lead.


November 2009


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey