Below is a news release from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. Be sure to check with your state wildlife agencies before going shed antler hunting as regulations vary from state to state.
Shed antler hunters will be taking to the field on Saturday as seasonal regulations will be lifted at 6:00 a.m. on May 1 for many areas in western Wyoming. Antler hunters are reminded that if they find antlers or horns still attached to the skull they are required to contact Wyoming Game and Fish law enforcement officials to get permission to remove it and must have it tagged with an Interstate Game Tag.
Since the May 1, 2021, opener falls on a Saturday this year, the local Game & Fish offices will be closed and antler hunters are to call Game & Fish law enforcement dispatch at 877-943-3847 to get in touch with a law enforcement officer in the field. The cost for an Interstate Game Tag is $8.00, cash only. Naturally shed antlers do not need to be tagged.
“The reasoning behind the law is that we treat every dead animal as a potential poaching case, even animals that may appear to have died of natural causes or a vehicle collision.” said North Jackson Game warden Jon Stephens. Game and Fish law enforcement officials plan to be patrolling in the field and available at popular antler hunting locations throughout the weekend.
The shed antler collection regulation, which was amended by the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission in November 2020, requires that antler collection on public lands begins at 6:00 a.m. on May 1. Accordingly, Wyoming Game and Fish Department wildlife habitat management areas (WHMAs) in the Jackson and Pinedale regions will also open at 6 a.m. on May 1. (This opening time and date does not apply to some WHMAs in other parts of the state.)
This includes Jackson Region WHMAs such as South Park, Horse Creek, Camp Creek and Grey’s River (Alpine); and Pinedale Region WHMAs such as Soda Lake, Luke Lynch, Half Moon and Fall Creek. This also means anglers will be able to access Soda Lake for fishing at 6:00 a.m. on May 1. Antler collection on Wyoming state lands will also open at 6:00 a.m. on May 1 in those areas where the antler regulation applies. More details on antler collection regulations and maps are available on the Game and Fish website.
The Jackson Ranger District of the Bridger-Teton National Forest has issued a temporary special order that allows access to critical winter range at 6:00 a.m. on May 1 as well. This aligns the opening time with access through the National Elk Refuge and the Wyoming Game and Fish antler collection regulation. Antler collection is strictly prohibited on lands of the National Elk Refuge and Grand Teton National Park.
Collection of shed antlers means to search for, locate, stockpile or possess shed antlers and horns of big game animals on public land or attempt to search for, locate, stockpile or possess shed antlers and horns of big game animals on public land during the closed season. A violation of this regulation carries the same penalties as many other Game and Fish violations.
Recreationists are also reminded to be bear aware while in the field. It is recommended to hike in a group and make noise as you travel so bears can hear you, especially in thick cover or near streams. Learn to recognize areas of heavy bear use by knowing how to identify tracks, scats and diggings, and if you smell a carcass, avoid it. Flocks of magpies or ravens often indicate a nearby potential food source for bears.
When bears scavenge large animals they often cover what they can’t eat with brush or dirt and may remain nearby for several days to defend it from other scavengers. Commercially available bear spray is effective for stopping aggressive bears. Use bear spray only as a deterrent and as a last resort to avoiding a physical encounter. Carry bear spray in a readily accessible manner and make sure the spray is EPA approved.
(Photo source: Wyoming Game and Fish Department)