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Keep Your Hands Out Of The Cookie Jar!

I have two toddlers and as such I find myself often telling them to keep their hands out of the cookie jar! At their age the jar is just way too much temptation. However, discipline has taught them that they have to say please, thank you and when they don’t follow the rules they will not get a cookie. Here is to hoping that the $15,000.00 fine and loss of hunting privileges for five years is enough to deter others from jumping the gun on shed hunting in closed areas the same way that discipline has worked for my children. 

A Wyoming man named Joshua Anders Rae received his punishment for jumping the gun and entering land closed to shed hunting where he then stashed 104 lbs of antlers for collection later. Rae plead guilty to the charges laid against him. For 104 lbs of antlers he has lost his hunting opportunities for five years and will have to figure out how to pay $15,000.00 to the state of Wyoming!

The question in just about every big game related case is, was the penalty enough? At first glance this punishment sounds pretty significant but is it enough to deter other people from putting their hands in the cookie jar?

The answer is complicated. With the value of antlers on the rise and the popularity of shed hunting at an all time high due to social media it may actually not deter would be law breakers. I have had friends tell me how much money they have gotten for their sheds and it never ceases to amaze me. 

The simple reality is that we always have to do what is best for the animals if we want our children to be able to enjoy them the same way that we have. The rules for these seasons are in place because of the delicate state of the bucks and bulls at the end of the winter when they are dropping or have just dropped their antlers. Will crimes like this lead to an increase in rules and discipline? That is usually the case. 

The best solution is for all of us to report the weird or illegal things we see in the field. Enforcement of these shed hunting rules is for the betterment of the animals. If you don’t agree with the rules then make sure that you attend the public input meetings and let Game and Fish know your concerns. We don’t have a right to complain if we aren’t involved and that includes suggestions for penalties and punishments.

What do you think? Is the punishment enough to keep others from putting their hand in the shed antler cookie jar?

About Scott Reekers

Scott Reekers

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31 comments

  1. 1st offense? I agree we need to protect our animals. However ruin a mans life? Seems fitting

  2. The number of individuals that are actually caught for violating game laws is small. Prosecutors and judges need to get tougher on these cases. In the case of the shed hunter violation the judge gets an A+, hopefully other judges will take notice. Those that violate game laws are really no better than ones involved with burglaries and robberies as far as I’m concerned. Hock it to um judges.

  3. 1st offense perhaps, but likelihood it was his first time – bout same odds as winning the powerball, $15k seems reasonable, not sure how much you can get for say 500lbs of antler, but if it were $50k they’d all give pause for thought. And they should. 2nd offense, permanent ban from hunting, $100k fine and jail time.

    • 500lbs of antler (depending on condition) would yield a max of $7K in profit, not $50K. That man’s stash was likely worth $1,000-1,500. I also agree with harsh punishments and privilege losses for the sake of the animals, but $15,000 is a pretty deep hole.

      • What I meant was if the fine were $50k, they’d all give pause. Course maybe they will due to the $15k too. Like I said later, if you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime. I have no tolerance for a-holes like this that blatantly break the law. Maybe if he was a kid (teenager or 20 or less, maybe less of a fine, but since he wasn’t – teach him responsibility for his actions and fry his ass.

  4. Take away the $$$ Value of horns, and watch these issue go away. Its just too tempting to leave $100s on the ground. Make them worth dirt and most people (the trouble makers anyway) will go back to the old ways. There are several options that could be explored. Until things change, guys will ALWAYS be breaking the law and it will just continue to increase.

    One option is to make everyone that intends to sell sheds to make money buy a permit. Make guys buy a $500 permit to shell antlers and most people won’t do it anymore. For those guys that just love finding them and collecting them, no change. For the guys driven by $$$, they have to pay to play.

  5. I think the punishment fits the crime. Charlie nailed it on the head; no chance this was the first time that he has broken the rules. This is one of those offenses that really pisses me off. These animals need space. If we want them to be healthy enough to grow another set of awesome antlers then we can’t be pushing them around and harassing them at such an important time in their recuperation. Imagine you just ran a marathon and then have to outrun some dude who wants to rob you. Not cool. I hope other states follow Wyoming’s lead and crack down on these idiots.

    • BS. Platitudes is all you have. Cite the evidence!

      • KG, cite the evidence? What evidence, that winter kills deer and elk? I thought every hunter knew that. Its simple, this is a time of year that deer and elk, especially bucks and bulls, are in their worst physical shape. If they start to expend more energy then they are taking in from the limited supply of food, they will die. Simple as that. I don’t have a problem with people who follow rules and seasons for shed hunting. Those same antlers that are there early in the year will be there later in Spring, whats the rush?

  6. We are our own worst enemy when it comes to shed hunting. It’s easy to point fingers, but most shed hunters cannot resist the temptation and will bend or break the rules when they see a shed laying in front of them. It’s greed, it’s self-promotion, it’s ego, it’s too great to resist. Yet it’s also good exercise & fun to go shed hunting. But at what expense?
    The number of shed hunters has multiplied exponentially to the point that something has to be done. It’s unfortunate that we can’t just regulate our own behavior without our governing bodies having to step in because of our own greed and lack of self-control. How many times have you or someone else said, “I’d stay away until May, but if I don’t get in there, someone else will, so it might as well be me!”
    I have seen that the dollar amount doesn’t necessarily deter shed hunters. Several years ago when prices dropped to $5 per pound, we actually still witnessed an increase in the number of shed hunters. A lot of guys/gals will stockpile until prices come back up.
    I hate to see any more regulations placed on our public lands, but again, we are our own worst enemy. I know guys who are licking their chops for regulations to be enacted because there will be very little competition for them as they poach antlers. And they’re good at it, and our agencies do not have the manpower to effectively police those guys. So, when May 1st rolls around and those of us who are law-abiding citizens head out to hunt sheds, we’ll be looking at a bunch of boot & horse tracks and ridges void of antlers.
    Our wildlife resources are most important here, and we have shown that we are incapable of handling it properly ourselves, which is why this has become such a big issue.
    To add insult to injury, many states have placed regulations on shed hunting, so now guys & gals from those states are hopping over to neighboring states to hunt sheds, and that is the main reason WY will be adding shed hunting regulations this year east of the divide. Good grief, what’s next?

    • Agree with you that its a shame the way it is and its getting worse, but I’ve never once thought about going before the date and have never heard a single friend say that either. People need to have some self control or they can take responsibility for their actions (something that congress needs to learn and hard). Similar thing, one of my cousins and I have had 2 opportunities to take B&C Muley bucks, but they were on private property which we did not have permission to hunt , but they were only 10-15ft over the fence, so what did we do? What you are supposed to do, we watched them move further away in the wrong direction and simply enjoyed seeing them. I have no sympathy for criminals and they are criminals as they are breaking laws. If you don’t like the laws, then work to do something to change them. Don’t just break them cause you disagree unless you are prepared to take and pay the consequences.

  7. Lawrence Wilson

    I hate to admit to ignoreance, but I guess I have to today. I am always strongly against poaching, but I really don’t understand the objections to hunting sheds weather for personal use or profit. Just like in some places it is illegal to pick up a feather while walking thru the forest, I just dont see or understand the problem.
    I wouldn’t mind seeing some comments on this.

    • Harassing wildlife when all reserves has been spent in winter months. Getting in before law abiding citizens can go legally do it. Some drive off road to find these sheds. Spreading noxious weeds I’ll be excited to see other comments.

  8. I guess I’m way out in left field on this issue. To me. My opinion his crime was not that bad. Stashed a few horns in the brush for later pick up. Not a big deal in my book. I’m sure glad I live in a state with no shed hunting seasons or dates. Go out when ever u feel like and gather some up.

  9. I wish sheds were worth nothing dollar wise. Have been shed hunting ever since i can remember. We recently acquired a shed “season” here in CO. After two years of it, it is very apparent that it only keeps the honest guys honest. And we only read or hear about a very small fraction of the people who are actually caught and exploited to deter others. I have witnessed it myself in plain daylight. They say the shed season keeps people from harassing wildlife while trying to get them to drop. Last time i checked that has been illegal forever. Why not put the same resources used to bust shed hunters to use enforcing the laws already in place……. this has obviously become quite an issue, not sure what the best answer is but i certainly dont believe this shed season is solving much other than taking a lot of fun out of it for honest people. Sure sucks to go to your old favorite spot on the “opener” just to find no horns and boot tracks everywhere….

  10. While I think he def broke the law it seems the punishment was harsh. Particularly when compared to the last 2 arrivals on furs who actually got caught poaching mister bulls and multiple animals. I believe they were charged less $ in one case and 20k in the other. I want to see laws and judgments crack down on these type of dirtbags. Ironically guys that will poach and break laws I highly doubt loss of hunting privileges will stop them. They are poachers. Prison time is what should happen. At least 1 year.

    • Typo above. The last to articles on guys poaching elk

      • Cliff Folkerts

        One of those cases resulted in a fine of $33k and lifetime loss of h&f privileges. The other guys was fined $15k and loss of h&f privileges for 5 or more years. It’s really quite simple: DON’T BREAK THE LAW.

  11. Picking up one shed every now an then for personal use like it looks cool, a wall hanging or your dog to chew on does not seem bad. Picking up truck loads, making a business out of it, making YouTube videos (really) seems nuts. Original hunters did not grab huge stashes, neither did the Mountain Men, it must be a new age thing. A race to see who can get to the shed first, who gets the biggest, who gets the most, what a joke. When I lived in Alaska I didn’t pick up moose poop to make earrings and incense either. Think of the positive, by me not picking up sheds leaves it leaves more for the videos warriors to be heroes. Hey, time will tell about all that calcium not going back into the food chain, you prove that it won’t affect anything (again over time). Anything for a buck I guess.

  12. As to the punishment I think it is totally overboard, outrageous 15 grand for sheds. If he does not appeal this he is crazy. Loss of hunting privileges for sheds for five years is also nuts. He was not hunting animals. I could see him losing his SHED hunting privileges for a year and a 500.000 fine, but that would be it. Look, this is not a crime against a person. He did not steal sheds from you, he stole them off the range. He got caught and got fined.

    • You run a business? Harassing game if he did and stealing from the public is punishable. $500 wouldn’t and doesn’t pay for squat to catch him and prosecute him and ensure he doesn’t keep doing it. If murderers, rapists and thief’s had to pay for their time in jail and the damage they caused, I bet a few would think twice.

  13. Why not give him a discount for every other person he helps convict, and then hire him to help catch other thief’s
    and set the traps??? fight fire with fire.

  14. Simply put, If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime. And if you don’t want to abide by our laws or your state’s laws, I hear you can do whatever you want some places in the middle east and North Africa. Safe travels and good luck taking any of your guns with you. I’ll give you $0.15 on the dollar for them 🙂

  15. I think he got what he deserved, Let’s not make this political they are just trying to make an example out of him so nobody else does it.

    • I understand the reason for shed laws in some areas. We don’t need to pressure ELK out of season. They get enough of that in season. I think the fine was just. It sends a message for sure. The person that did it obviously knew the law or he wouldn’t be hiding them, he would have taken them with him.

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