From Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
-- Late winter and early spring is the worst time of the year for elk, moose and especially deer in Utah. Deep snow makes it hard for deer to move or find food. Cold temperatures sap the animals’ strength. By the time winter ends, deer are usually the weakest they'll be all year.
Winter is also the time of year when male deer, elk and moose shed their antlers. The animals will be without antlers until spring, when they'll start to grow a new set.
In Utah, shed hunters must complete a free online course before gathering shed antlers in Utah. The course is available at wildlife.utah.gov/shedantler.
Shed hunting has grown in popularity across the country, including in Utah. The challenge with shed-antler gathering is that it happens during the worst time of the year for the animals and the habitat the animals rely on in the winter.
"By the time winter ends, the animals are stressed," says Mike Fowlks, Law Enforcement Section chief for the Division of Wildlife Resources.
"Also, the habitat the animals rely on in the winter is wet," he says. "It's easily damaged. Once the habitat is damaged, it can take years for it to recover."
Fortunately, Fowlks says shed hunters can have fun gathering shed antlers without stressing the animals and damaging their habitat. "A free course that's available on our website will show you how," he says.
Fowlks says you must complete the DWR's Antler Gathering Ethics course if you want to gather shed antlers in Utah between Feb. 1 and April 15.
The course is free online. After finishing the course, make sure to print the certificate of completion before gathering antlers. "Make sure you carry your certificate with you," Fowlks says. "By law, you must have your certificate with you while you're gathering shed antlers."
For adults who have completed the course, the certificate covers minor children who hunt with adults.
Fowlks asks shed hunters to remember that many of the state's wildlife management areas are closed in the winter and the spring to protect wildlife.
For those who wish to gather sheds between Feb. 1 and April 15, the course must be completed prior to going afield. For those who until April 15 or later to gather antlers do not need to complete the course.
For more information on the course, call the nearest Division of Wildlife Resources office or the Salt Lake City office at (801)538-4700.