Utah recently closed down all shed antler hunting through April 30. The only question rattling around in my largely empty skull is, “What took so long?”
Ungulate populations across southern Wyoming and northern Utah and Colorado are severely struggling this winter. I just passed through the Park City to SLC corridor last week and witnessed deer and elk eeking out a difficult existence firsthand. The conditions were even worse along the I-80 corridor in southern Wyoming. There is no reason to be pushing those animals around in the winter, especially one like this and for something as trivial as picking up antlers.
I enjoy “hunting” for shed antlers as much as anyone. It’s a great excuse to get outside with family and friends and get some exercise. That said, I feel like it’s past time that some major regulation be put in place on the practice. Too many people pushing around too many weak and struggling deer, and to a lesser extent elk, are damaging a dwindling western icon, mule deer. It’s way past time we put the deer first and our own selfish desires for “brown gold” second.
I’m not saying we can’t pick up antlers, we should, and we should enjoy doing it but we need to be doing it at a time when the deer especially, have moved or have access to better groceries and are out of the brutal grasp of old man winter. I’m thinking mid-May or early June. Let’s put the deer first and the lust for antlers second. We owe it to them.
What’s your take?
Note: My home state of Wyoming is currently pushing a bill to require the purchase of a conservation stamp for shed antler hunting. I’m on the fence about it as I see benefits and detractors.