The typical Wyoming shed hunter: Who is he? (And yes, he is a man.)
Research out of University of California-Berkeley shines light on the burgeoning outdoor pursuit and hints at how antler gathering might change under new regulations favoring Wyoming residents.
CASPER — Take a white male westerner who likes nature and exercise and makes pretty good money.
There’s a good chance he travels to partake in one of his favorite springtime pursuits. And he’s pretty darn good at it, snagging an average of 45 antlers annually if he’s the type who hits the road. He’s generally not one to sell the treasures he finds — at least not many of them.
Statistically speaking, those are some of the core elements of the prototypical shed antler hunter in western Wyoming.
Shed antler gathering, which has grown evermore popular, is a scantly-regulated activity that’s relatively poorly understood and generally lacking in academic inquiry. University of California-Berkeley PhD candidate Sam Maher, who’s studying the costs and benefits of living with migratory animals, saw an opening. In 2023, she began the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem Antler Study, a two-year survey supported by the Buffalo Bill Center of the West and National Geographic.
Preliminary results are now available.
Some of the findings surprised Maher, who studies under UC-Berkeley professor and seasonal Wyoming resident Arthur Middleton.
“The data didn’t really support this narrative about the out-of-state people being these crazy profit-driven folks,” Maher told WyoFile. “Profit-seeking behavior played a smaller role than I anticipated.”
The perception of out-of-state professionals flooding Wyoming every spring partly prompted new policies that put non-residents at a disadvantage. Starting in May, Wyoming residents will have a one-week head start on finding the elk, deer and moose antlers waiting for the taking on public land. Non-residents will also need a $21.50 conservation stamp. The changes emanated from the Wyoming Legislature, and the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission was scheduled to review the revised regulations at its Cheyenne meeting this week.
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