Western states take aim at antler gatherers

More people are gathering antlers. The recession makes some of them desperate for money. The end result is trouble for wildlife-

About a month ago I posted an article about this in Wyoming, but the issue is bigger than that.

Overzealous antler gatherers face a new flurry of regulation by U.S. Western states trying to stop harassment of deer and elk during critical, food-scarce months. By Laura Zuckerman. Reuters.





  1. Mike Avatar

    Good news. If you are that desperate that you need to harass animals to make ends meet, maybe it’s time to move back to the city where they have jobs.

  2. Si'vet Avatar

    I am going to run a foul of some but I agree, Wintering areas are off limits until winter is over, glad to see this issue being addressed. Mike just as an FYI, there are a lot of city folk out there who gather sheds, see them at the gas stations filling up their 4 wheelers and snow machines.

  3. Wyo Native Avatar
    Wyo Native


    I hate to tell you that the main reason that Wyoming passed our law was because of the that “City” folks harrassing our wildlife. The biggest numbers of shed hunters in western Wyoming were from the Wasatch Front (Salt Lake, Provo, Ogden) along with a bunch of people from the Colorado front range (Denver, Ft Collins), and not Wyoming residents.

    City folks were more inclined to push wildlife specifically Mule Deer to try and force them to drop their antlers. They did not want to go hame empty handed after spending the money on gas, food, and motels.

  4. cobra Avatar

    I don’t know about Wyo. laws but I believe in Idaho there are laws against harassing animals with fines and maybe even jail time. I think it’s bull when people chase down wintering herds of deer and elk. They have a hard enough time the way it is. How many loose their calves and fawns because of this?

  5. Mike Avatar


    I think our definition of “city folks” is quite different. For example, I consider Missoula a town, not a city.

  6. Carl Avatar

    Mike, Please don’t send them to Detroit.

  7. Wyo Native Avatar
    Wyo Native

    “On Saturday, Feb. 16, the Game and Fish Stop Poaching Hotline received calls from dismayed wildlife viewers near Sage Junction south of Cokeville. Warden Hymas says winter conditions have been stressful for wildlife, and several groups of deer and elk were using the more favorable south -facing slopes to forage and use the sun’s warmth to conserve energy.

    “Some concerned citizens watched as two men on snowshoes crossed the snow-covered slopes, causing large numbers of deer and elk to flee from the slopes into the deeper snows,” Hymas said. “The observers recognized that this disturbance was going to result in the animals burning up critical reserves and felt that this unnecessary harassment violated wildlife laws, so they reported the disturbance to the Stop Poaching Hotline.”

    “When I responded to the report I discovered that two men from Utah had driven to Wyoming to hunt for shed antlers, even though the slopes were still covered with snow. They informed me that the Northern Region in Utah was closed to the hunting of shed antlers from February 1 through April 12 to prevent the molestation of wintering wildlife, so they had driven to the Sage Junction area of Wyoming to hunt for antlers because Wyoming has no season on antler gathering.”

    During the same week, Game and Fish biologist Ron Lockwood encountered a similar situation south of Kemmerer along Wyoming Highway 189. Lockwood watched as Utah antler hunters waded through knee-deep snow and deer scattered from the slopes and draws they were seeking shelter in. Once again, the antler hunters explained that they had come to Wyoming because from Utah wildlife officials had closed the Northern Region to antler hunting.”


  8. Ronnie Avatar

    Does anyone know if this law will actually close the winter ranges, or does it just prevent people from actually picking up sheds?? If it’s not an actual closure, you can bet there will be just as many people out there with a g.p.s., pushing wildlife all the same…

  9. Dave Avatar

    I was curious about the taking of the sheds themselves, the way i understood it the shed antlers provided vital nutrients to the soil and had a variety of other uses for wildlife. Just a diffrent angle.

  10. mikepost Avatar

    I think this is also an opportunity to sell shed gathering permits. Not only can a formal season be established, but the numbers can be regulated, studied, and enforcement made easier. Most of these sheds end up being turned into expensive lamps and other articles sold retail so getting some return for the tax payers is a good idea given that we maintain the land and fund the management. And, of course, the critters still get the needed relief.

  11. jdubya Avatar

    “When I responded to the report I discovered that two men from Utah had driven to Wyoming to hunt for shed antlers….”

    Damn Utards!

  12. Si'vet Avatar

    jdubya, no need to polarize. I know people from both your state and mine who are just as bad.. sad to say

  13. Jay Avatar

    Any time animal parts become a commodity, bad things happen…to the animal.

  14. mikepost Avatar

    Jay, that horse left the barn a long time ago. Best to make lemonade if all you have are lemons. Sheds are a cash commodity, one that needs to be managed.

  15. vickif Avatar

    well if these people can afford to drive from Utah or Colorado to Wyoming to gather antlers, they are better off than most unemployed folks I know of…that is an expensensive endevour.
    There should be a season, it should rewuire a permit, but then what? How do they spend that money? Elk feed lots? Be very careful what you wish for…
    Consider too, perhaps there are people who just hike, or snow shoe, cross country ski? Do they cause this same potentially detramental outcome to the game? Because, some would assume these people are the same people who contribute huge tax dollars buying equipment, paying for licenses (fishing etc.), paying for daily use permits in some forests etc.
    This is not as black and white as one would think, it is a can of worms. It has the potential to reach far and wide, particularly when you use the ‘animals being damaged’ aspect. You have to be less specific, or far more specific when you decide to regulate then charge for certain uses/commodities or animals/by-products.
    Case in point…wolf reintroduction. It has been a battle from get-go, but had it been more defined, it may have been less vulnerable to gross misinterpretation.
    Then consider bison, their regulation has been vastly over-defined, to the point that they have been erroniously categorized as agriculture.
    Like I said, can of worms. Realistically, how many animals die as a result of these people? How many herds are actually ‘harassed’? How do those on-lookers know they caused these animals no stress? After all, they must have been in close proximety also.
    Tredging through snow in December or January can be daunting, and not many will be inclined to work that hard- a sad state of some people’s lazy mentality.
    Is this issue truly that big? Or would it not be better to focus what will cost many thousands of dollars on issues which are more substantial?
    I am not saying it is okay, just saying that sometimes it is important to pick your battles…and your budgets wisely.

  16. Mike Avatar

    I am a shed hunter and I walk about 150 miles each spring! And I have seen some bad things from other shed hunters that is just not right. I have never sold a shed or product from a shed, I just enjoy being out and the surprize of walking up on one. So my idea is make it illegal to sell antler. Stop the selling and you will stop the antler craze.


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.

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Ralph Maughan