There are new rules for shed antler hunting

The shed antler collection laws have changed again. If you’re a shed hunter, be sure you’re clear on the rules before you head out into the field this spring.

Almost a decade and a half ago, Wyoming first put regulations on shed antler and horn hunting. That law banned collection of shed antlers west of the Continental Divide during the winter. The purpose of the law was to prevent the harassment of wildlife in those months when the animals can’t afford to spend any extra energy running away. They’re already spending almost as much energy just getting their food as they get from it, so if people start running them around, trying to get them to drop their antlers, they might not make it through the winter.

The new rules go a bit further. This time around, the laws aren’t about protecting the animals – they’re about making the experience of shed hunting more pleasant for Wyoming residents. There’s still the prohibition against venturing onto public lands west of the Divide until the spring, but now residents get a one-week head start over nonresidents. Additionally, nonresidents will have to buy a shed hunting stamp, which in effect is a license. Residents and kids under the age of 15 don’t need the stamp, but adults from outside the state do.

I’ve read a few horror stories about people getting threatened, harassed or otherwise bullied while they were out in the woods looking for sheds. Hopefully there will be less of that with these new laws. If you do get harassed or threatened, report it to law enforcement or a game warden as soon as you can.

And this should go without saying, but if you’re out there in the woods, looking for sheds, give other shed hunters space, and try not to cut them off from the places they were heading. They call it shed hunting for a reason – treat it like hunting, and give your fellow shed hunters the courtesy you would like them to give you.

Good luck this spring.