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NEW Wyoming Horn Hunting Regulations

Shed hunting has become more and more popular every year, and with more participants come more rules. In Wyoming, shed hunting season West of the continental divide begins on May 1st. There are many feed grounds in western Wyoming where elk congregate and shed their antlers. By May 1st many of these elk are dispersed or beginning to disperse back to summer areas. In multiple areas across the West, midnight of May 1st is a common start time for many shed hunting areas. Hundreds of people line up at the fence and wait for the official start of the race for horns. This is very difficult to enforce because people glass up sheds days prior and then sneak in before the official opening to claim their “horns”. 

Also, reports from many wildlife management areas across the West claimed that people are sneaking around these areas ahead of time caching antlers. When the opening day of shed season arrives, these people simply hike in to their hidden antler piles and haul out a backpack full of sheds ahead of the competition. 

The nature of shed hunting seasons with midnight openers makes it very difficult for law enforcement to patrol so Game and Fish has decided to bump up the start of the shed season from midnight to noon on May 1st. Their hope is to make the opener easier to patrol and make it more difficult for people to sneak in ahead of time under the cover of darkness. We’ll see how it works. This rule change has received equal praise and criticism from what I’ve seen. The most common argument is that shed hunters won’t have enough time to cover the ground they want to with the amount of daylight hours remaining after noon. Others, think it’s a great idea and will make the start of the season more transparent. I just have to shake my head, as more and more people cheat the system rules and regulations will become more and more strict. What do you think?

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About Dan Pickar

Dan Pickar

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28 comments

  1. I think this is a great policy change by WY GFD. The midnight dash, albeit fun was unnecessarily stressful, hectic and inefficient with so many obvious antlers missed. Not to mention the cost of officers and wildlife managers to be present for a midnight opener that our tag fees and taxes pay for. Hopefully we can get more unification across all western states for shed seasons located super critical wildlife winter range areas- hate to stress and kill animals in the spring that we pursue so adamantly in the fall.

  2. i’ll never go again i’m sick of spending money for vet checks i’m my horses, taking off a couple days of work just to have people sneak in early. i don’t think changing the start date. will change anything, i’ve come across several recently used camp sites on opening day. to many stupid ass people that don’t think the laws apply to them. it’s a nice idea but i don’t see it changing anything, extreme severe penalties may help, but i doubt it

  3. So previously you start in the dark, now everyone will finish in the dark. IMHO why don’t you just restrict it to daylight hours? At least everyone will get a good nights sleep now!

  4. I totally agree with the noon start and would like to see it regulated to daylight hours- no different than big game hunting. It’s a shame that a few have to ruin it for everyone.

  5. Fearful that this is going to result in an extra month for people to raid the hills who are willing to break the rules. Without other shed hunters out who is going to police this? The WGFD cannot patrol it already, not having anyone out and about will prove to be too enticing for shady people. Special wintering areas all have problems with poachers, now the majority of the prime shedding areas in the state will follow suit. Keep in mind that no other uses are prohibited, just shed hunting. It is a very sad time when you are banned from public lands because you are looking for antlers, but you can ski, hike, snowmobile, camp, etc. all you want. For us law abiding citizens, now we will just be concentrating on the other side of their magical line. All in an effort to “Protect wintering animals” – every decent human would hike around a herd or do whatever it takes to not harass wild game, so all you end up doing is once again, punishing law abiding citizens because of the actions of a few. And what about the animals east side of the continental divide? Feel free to harass them all you want! And now those few get to shed hunt all they want with minimal repercussions? A fine of a few hundred dollars is the price of admission for poachers, if elk horns are worth $15 a pound, doesn’t take many sheds to pay that fine. If they were actually serious about it they would increase the penalties, and increase patrols. I shed hunt a lot, have never seen a WGFD employee in the field except opening a gate at a wintering area on the opener. I have however seen people poaching antlers, reported them, and not surprisingly nothing came of it. The noon start time is just dumb, what is the expectation that people will sit in their vehicle until noon to start hiking? Not enforceable, and stupid. People can just go hike, and “not look” for antlers until noon. It also is not a bump up, as stated in the article, but rather a 12 hour delay in the start time. Our lawmakers really blew it with this legislation. Pisses me off when ethical law abiding people are punished because of dbags.

    • Here in western Wyoming, much of the mule deer wintering range is under BLM closure until May 1st, though there is also hundred of thousands of acres which is not. Will BLM modify its closure policy until noon on May 1st too? That be just more damn regulation. Far as I know in these BLM closure areas we’ll be able to drive out there early in the morning just like before but have to go look for artifacts until noon then switch to looking for sheds. Dumb. I don’t agree with the noon opener. This new time rule is more for the elk feedground areas so G&F doesn’t have to be opening gates at midnight to these areas. Why not allow someone at first light to be out walking the ridges on mule deer wintering areas? All the while guys around Casper, Thermopolis, Cody, etc. are looking for shed antlers through the late winter and early spring months and bumping wintering wildlife which must be able to cope with the stress better than the wildlife on the west side of the divide. ????

    • Not a legislative law. G&F Commission changed this regulation based on input from G&F. The midnight opener was a shit-show. I’m glad they changed it, but noon seems kinda dumb. Why not 6am? And why not state-wide?? I have my suspicions, but I’ll keep that to myself. I’m also in favor of a shed license. But mostly, I would like to see some regulations in place on the buyers and sellers of antlers.

  6. I never believed these sheds belonged to the game department anyway. Frist come, first served.

  7. How do you “sneak in” to federal land owned by we the people? These rules are a blatant disregard to public access.

  8. I know I was the first on the mountain after they opened the gate. Half hour of busting my ass, get up top of the ridge and a guy below me was walking out with a frame pack full of sheds. I know he didn’t beat me up there my truck was the first. There are 3 ways to get where I was and 3 of them are closed with gates. He walked his ass off 2 get there the day or 2 before..

  9. I think it’s a good effort to give everyone a chance but I don’t think it’s going to stop the people that already sneak in and get a cache pile hidden , I like getting out and looking for a few it’s good exercise and good just to get out. , I think the money factor has ruined it , there’s a lot of greedy people that have ruined it for everyone

  10. Too bad the g&f would not have included the Big Horns in this. This season has now placed extreme pressure on them.

  11. These rules won’t be necessary. But there’s a handful of idiots out there that make it that way. I think it’s a great idea.

  12. It should be a Tentative Opening Day. Based on winter weather and spring conditions. Open it on a random day. A short press release saying ‘Shed Season now open”. End these land race openings, that kinda thing is a dam CIRCUS.

  13. Every tag must be drawn and points collected and used for tags, so why not have all apply for this hunt season?

    • Great idea but it would be as popular as a fart in a spacesuit. I’m not permitted by law to sell wild game meat, tell me how in the hell people sell antlers all day long.

  14. While city, local, States and the Federal governments pick and choose which laws they will abide by, I have to laugh when I hear shed hunters who are in lock-step with these ridiculous rules. Keep in mind, for many of these lands, all other activities are allowed. So sit on the couch till May 1, but don’t complain when you don’t find much.

  15. There is an opportunity here for much needed revenue. How about a shed hunting permit in wildlife mgmt areas? We hunters pay for every other “hunting” privilege… Or, perhaps make a permit mandatory for anyone who did not hold a deer or elk license in the preceding season.

    Duane Ziegler
    Miles City, MT

    • Why limit it to WMA’s? I suggested this to G&F years ago, and they didn’t want to listen, claiming it should be up to BLM or whatever entity controlled that particular portion of land. Kinda like firewood or Christmas trees. I have lots of ideas on this. Many of those would be unpopular to lots of folks, but many would be very popular..especially to residents.

    • This is a good idea, I agree with this 100%

  16. I think the government should layoff regulating stuff on the ground. Rediculous. They are sheds..let people pick them up at will when ever.

  17. I think they may want to set up a draw for each area and give out x amount of permits only
    then have an opening date and time frame.

  18. I cant imagine being this hard core to care about shed hunting in the first place. Seems a bit weird to me. I dont pick up sheds I find at all no matter what state I hunt in. Weird that people are this gung ho about it lol . To each their own I guess.

  19. It doesn’t matter how many regulations you put on this topic…. there’s always those people that screw it up for the honest ones. Really your just punishing the good guys. The dishonest people just go pile up antlers and I also think the money aspect has completely ruined shed hunting because it has become a second income for most people not a hobby. Just my opinion.

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