Nonresidents Will Have To Wait Full Week Longer Than Wyomingites For Shed Antler Hunting

Nonresidents will have to wait a full week longer than Wyomingites to start hunting shed antlers, under a measure awaiting Gov. Mark Gordons signature.

Mark Heinz

March 01, 20233 min read

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(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

This May 1, 6 a.m. could be the final hurrah for mobs of nonresidents rushing to collect shed elk and deer antlersfrom Wyoming hot spots – such as national forest land adjacent to the National Elk Refuge Near Jackson. 

A bill that, if signed into law by Gov. Mark Gordon, will make nonresidents wait a full week before starting their treasure hunts would take effect on July 1. 

House Bill 123 squeaked by the Senate by a vote of 16-15 on Monday. The Wyoming House passed it on February 6 by a vote of 48-13, one excused. 

That bill originally called for making nonresidents wait three days before joining the quest for shed antlers. 

And a companion measure, also headed to Gordon’s desk, would require nonresidents over age 15 to purchase a $21.50 Wyoming conservation stamp before shed hunting here. It too would take effect July 1.  The Senate passed House Bill 276 by a vote of 16-12, three excused, on Friday. The House passed it on February 8 by a vote of 39-23. 

As the law stands now, the shed antler season in most of western Wyoming opens at 6 a.m. on May 1. The season was designated several years ago, because there had been problems with shed antler hunters going out on to winter range well before May 1. That was putting too much pressure on big game animals trying to survive until spring. 

Full Week Is For Families, Sen. Hicks Says 

During earlier discussion on the Senate Floor, Sen. Larry Hicks, R-Baggs, said an amendment to extend the nonresident waiting period from three days to a full week had been added to give more advantage to families shed hunting for leisure time together, not profit. 

If the shed hunting season opens on a weekday “there are people who will take a day off and go out there to scoop up these horns because it’s financially lucrative,” Hicks said. 

That’s not fair to families with children who might have to wait for a weekend to start hunting shed antlers, he said. In many cases the “professional horn hunters” have taken nearly everything before families just wanting some time outdoors together get a chance. 

Hicks wasn’t kidding about the monetary value of shed antlers. Fresh elk antlers in good shape can go for $20 or more per pound, with some antlers weighing eight pounds each. 

There was no pushback against Hick’s remarks regarding the amendment.  

During previous discussions over the measure, some expressed concern over how making nonresidents wait a week could affect tourism. 

Rep. Ben Hornok, R-Cheyenne, said during one committee discussion that nonresident shed hunters bring considerable money into some smaller Wyoming communities. 

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Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter