Plan on gathering shed antlers? Complete free online course first

Gathering shed antlers is a fun thing to do in Utah in the spring. Before you gather shed antlers during the period Feb. 1-April 15, 2016 you must complete the state's free online shed antler gathering course and take the certificate with you. Utah, Jan. 26, 2016. | Photo by Scott Dalebout, courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, St. George News

UTAH — Late winter and early spring is a tough time for elk, moose and especially deer in Utah – even the worst time of year for the animals – but it can also be a fun time to go find antler sheds, provided you complete a free online course that will help you respect the animals and their habitat.

Gathering shed antlers is a fun thing to do in Utah in late winter. Before you gather shed antlers, make sure to complete the state's free online shed antler gathering course. April 16, 2008 | Photo courtesy of Randall Stilson, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, St. George News
Gathering shed antlers is a fun thing to do in Utah in late winter. Before you gather shed antlers, make sure to complete the state’s free online shed antler gathering course. Utah, April 16, 2008 | Photo by Randall Stilson, courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, St. George News

In the winter, deep snow makes it hard for deer to move and find food. And cold temperatures sap the deer’s strength. By the time winter ends, deer are the weakest they’ll be all year.

Winter is also the time of year when the antlers of male deer, elk and moose drop off their heads. The animals will be without antlers until spring, when they’ll start to grow a new set.

Gathering shed antlers

Gathering antlers that drop off the heads of deer, elk and moose is an activity that’s grown in popularity across the country. Division of Wildlife Resources Captain Mitch Lane said gathering shed antlers is a fun activity that the whole family can enjoy. Please remember, though, late winter and early spring is a tough time of year for deer, elk and moose.

“In addition to the animals being stressed,” Lane said, “the habitat the animals rely on in the winter is wet. Because it’s wet, it’s easily damaged. Once it’s damaged, it can take years for it to recover.”

Fortunately, you can have a great time gathering shed antlers without stressing the animals or damaging their habitat by doing a few simple things.

“Those simple things are found in a free shed antler course on our website,” Lane said.

The online course must be completed if you want to gather shed antlers in Utah between Feb. 1 and April 15.

Print your certificate

After you finish the course, make sure to print your certificate of completion before you take off to gather antlers.

“And make sure you carry your certificate with you,” Lane said. “You must have your certificate with you while you’re gathering shed antlers.”

Gathering from Feb. 1-April 15 requires a course completion certificate: If you have young children, and you’ve completed the course, your children don’t need to complete it — your certificate will cover your kids too.

Gathering April 15 or later does not require course completion.

Lane said once you complete the course, you can gather antlers across Utah. There are two exceptions, though:

  1. Many of the state’s wildlife management areas are closed in the winter and spring, to protect animals and their habitat
  2. You must have written permission from the landowner before gathering antlers on private land

For more information, call the nearest Division of Wildlife Resources office or the DWR’s Salt Lake City office at 801-538-4700.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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