Shed hunting has exploded in popularity in the past few years, and as “bone collectors” flood the spring woods in search of shed antlers it might be a good idea to check the regulations. In some states, if you find a shed on public land, you better leave it there.

From this story in the Oklahoman:
_If you are stomping around the woods this spring you might come across some antler sheds. Whitetail deer in Oklahoma start shedding their antlers as early as late December and begin the process of growing new ones. A quick search of the Internet reveals a lot of people try to sell deer sheds. In Oklahoma, it’s legal to sell sheds, but illegal to sell deer antlers with the skull attached. In some states, shed brokers will pay for deer sheds by the pound and then re-sell the antlers to crafters, carvers and furniture makers. Trophy sheds can sometimes net thousands of dollars. However, antler sheds cannot be taken from any of the state’s public wildlife management areas without prior permission from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. On federal lands in Oklahoma, such as the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, antler sheds cannot be removed at all.

The elk in the Wichita Mountains shed their antlers in March and April, said Ralph Bryant, deputy manager at the refuge. There is a commercial market for elk antlers as most end up in Asia where it’s believed they have medicinal value and are ground into various nutritional supplements. Bryant said several people have been caught and ticketed over the years for trying to remove sheds from the refuge. But he believes all of the violators were simply unaware of the regulation and were not hunting sheds for commercial reasons. The antlers are considered part of the wildlife and cannot be removed, Bryant said. The animals on the refuge (elk, bison, longhorn cattle and smaller critters) eat the antlers to get the calcium they need, he said. “Just about every bone or every antler that is left out gets consumed,” Bryant said._

What are the rules governing sheds in your state?