Shed hunt in full swing
A growing number of people take to the woods during winter, looking for antlers shed by Oregon’s deer and elk. Deer usually shed theirs from late December through March, and elk from late February through early April.
This time period also happens to be a critical one for big game. “During winter and early spring, big game animals are at their most vulnerable because of lower nutritional levels and body condition,” explains Ryan Torland, ODFW district wildlife biologist in John Day.
Motor vehicles will put animals on the move when they should be conserving energy. People on foot or horseback can also disturb animals. For this reason, some parts of the state known to serve as winter range for big game are closed or have motor vehicle restrictions at this time of year.
“Respecting vehicle restrictions and closures and following other ethical practices will help protect big game and get them through the winter,” said Torland.
Oregon has an organization that promotes ethical practices for the sport - Oregon Shed Hunters, founded in 2005 by Rob Tanner and his brother-in-law, Troy Capps. ODFW, Oregon State Police and Oregon Shed Hunters advise shed hunters to:
· Minimize any disturbance to big game. Deer and elk energy reserves are low at this time of year. Don’t approach animals or follow the same ones on a daily basis.
· Respect road and area closures. These are in place to protect winter range and wintering big game.
· Don’t take vehicles off-roading. The ground is water-logged at this time of year and off-roading in the wrong place can damage critical wildlife and fish habitat. Travel by foot or horseback instead.
· Don’t be in the same spot every day. Deer and elk might need to be in that spot for food or cover, and your presence will keep them from it.
· Keep dogs under your control. Don’t let dogs approach or follow wildlife. State law prohibits dogs (and people) from harassing wildlife. (OAR 498.102 and 498.006)
· Don’t trespass on private property. You always need permission to be on private land.
McKenzie River Reflections