April 08, 2008
By Scott Bestul
Out of the office last week on an early archery turkey hunt (which I’ll discuss in another post). When I returned, I was curious to read a story forwarded to me by none other than fellow shed-nut Bill Heavey. In short, the article covers an interesting, and growing, phenomenon in the West; the regulation of shed-hunting. Click here to read the full story from the Wyoming Tribune.
Now before some of you get upset—previous shed-hunting posts indicate a percentage of hunters don’t think it’s trespassing if all you’re doing is grabbing horns—this is a topic worth examining. Especially if you’ve had a winter like the one we’re (hopefully) now digging out of. In the northern tier of states, most deer species congregate in yarding areas that offer some relief from snow depth, wind and/or temperature. They may linger in these areas for months, riding out deep snow and severe cold until spring finally arrives and allows them to travel.
Many of these wintering areas are not only traditional for deer and elk, but well-known among wildlife enthusiasts. And shed hunters, whom we now are told can make money ($4-$8/pound) selling antlers, have been known to enter these yarding areas early, in hopes of beating other hunters to the horns. In the process, they may harass wildlife doing all it can to survive. Some states have even adopted no-trespassing rules until a specified date—typically well after snow-melt—elapses.
So what are your thoughts? While tighter shed-regs seem an obvious benefit to western wildlife, are they just another in a long line of restrictions that take the fun out of outdoor sports? Or has the ability to make profit from horns robbed people of the common sense to leave animals alone when they’re vulnerable? And with an increase in shed-poaching in the East and Midwest, maybe an official “shed season” with accompanying opening dates and stricter trespass laws, would make things more fair for everyone. Let me know your thoughts!