Collecting antlers that fall off the heads of deer, elk and moose each winter is a popular pastime in Utah, says the Division of Wildlife Resources.
Before you head out the door to collect shed antlers, the Division of Wildlife Resources says you must complete its Antler Gathering Ethics course. You can take the free Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) course at www.wildlife.utah.gov/shedantler.
After dropping their antlers, male deer, elk and moose will grow a new set starting this spring.
DWR captain Justin Shirley said gathering shed antlers is a fun activity that your whole family can enjoy. Please remember that late winter and early spring is a tough time of year for deer, elk and moose, Shirley said.
“During winter,” Shirley said, “big game animals, especially deer, often have a difficult time finding food. If you spook an animal and cause it to run, the animal has to use up fat reserves and energy it needs to make it through the winter.”
Also, from late winter through early spring, the habitat big game animals rely on in the winter is usually wet. “Because the soil is wet it’s more at risk to damage,” Shirley said.
Fortunately, you can gather shed antlers without stressing the animals or damaging their habitat.
“The free course will teach you how,” Shirley said.
After you finish the course at www.wildlife.utah.gov/shedantler you must do one of two things:
Print your certificate of completion and then carry it with you while you’re gathering antlers or take a screenshot of your certificate of completion and then store the screenshot on your phone or another mobile device. You must carry the mobile device with you, with the screenshot saved on the device, while you’re gathering antlers.
If you have young children, and you’ve completed the course, your children don’t need to complete one. Your certificate will cover your kids too.
You must complete the course if you want to gather shed antlers before April 15. If you wait until April 15 or later to gather antlers, you don’t need to complete the course.
After you’ve completed the course, you can gather antlers across Utah. There are two exceptions, though.
Many of the state’s wildlife management areas are closed in the winter and spring, to protect animals and their habitat.
You must have written permission from the landowner before gathering antlers on private land.
If you find a skull with the antlers or horns still attached, it’s possible the animal was poached. Do not pick up or move the skull, or disturb footprints or other evidence. Instead, please take the following steps. Take photos of the skull from a couple of angles, pinpoint the location of the skull (preferably its GPS coordinates), report your find to a DWR office and provide key details in your report.
The DWR will send a conservation officer to investigate. If it’s clear the animal died of natural causes, you might be allowed to keep your find.
If you have questions about gathering shed antlers in Utah, call the nearest Division of Wildlife Resources office or the DWR’s Salt Lake City office at 801-538-4700.
Collecting deer, elk, moose antlers a popular pastime in Utah