My friend Bill Heavey mentioned in his latest blog that a “no hunting” sign would not deter a shed hunter. And, since such a hunter was toting no weapon he could “pretty much go anywhere.” While I’m confident Bill was giving the whole thing the wink-and-nod for comic effect, I am deferring my planned post to deliver the following Public Service Announcement:

Make sure you know — and obey — your state’s trespass laws as you search for antlers. Mr. Heavey lives in Virginia where, I’m guessing, a “no hunting” sign restricts human access only if you’re carrying a bow or a firearm. Across virtually all of the Midwest, however, trespass laws apply to every activity. For example, here in Minnesota a landowner in an agricultural area doesn’t even have to post signage to convict a trespasser. It is up to you to know private property boundaries and to seek permission before entering. And if you think a landowner will cut you slack just because we’re on the backside of November, guess again.

And getting caught is getting easier. In a bad winter (like this one) most everyone knows where deer are hanging out, so they’re not hunting a buck’s sheds so much as waiting for them to drop. Try slipping in for early dessert and you are likely to meet a very upset deed holder…or at least a competitor who does have permission. I know at least two landowners who put out trail cams specifically to catch shed poachers, and another who updates his border signage after deer season, just to remind shed-freaks and turkey hunters to stay honest.

We live in an era of antler mania, so these days people know what you are up to; it is too early for mushrooming, maple sugaring, and even turkey scouting. You can walk your dog on the road, and it doesn’t matter all you’re toting is a multitool. You’re shagging horns, and if you’re in a state where the law says you need the landowner’s blessing, shame on you.