Late winter and early spring are tough times for elk, moose and especially deer in Utah. In fact, it’s the worst time of the year for the animals. 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 antlers of male deer, elk and moose drop off their heads. The animals will be without antlers until spring, when they start to grow a new set. 

Gathering antlers that drop off the heads of deer, elk and moose is an activity that’s grown in popularity across the country, including in Utah.

Captain Mitch Lane with the Division of Wildlife Resources says gathering shed antlers is a fun activity your whole family can enjoy. Please remember, though, that late winter and early spring is difficult for deer, elk and moose.

“In addition to the animals being stressed,” Lane says, “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, and not stress the animals or damage their habitat, by doing a few simple things. “Those simple things are found in a free shed antler course on our website,” Lane says.

The Antler Gathering Ethics course is available at www.wildlife.utah.gov/shedantler.Lane says you must complete the course if you want to gather shed antlers in Utah between February 1 and April 15, 2016.