Tag Archives: shed antler hunting

‘Winter Weakens, Spring Kills’ – ODFW, Shed Hunters Group Urge Antler Seekers To Hold Off

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

In January, deer and elk in Oregon were in good body condition, and it looked like another mild winter for the state. Then came February.

HEAVY LATE WINTER SNOWS HAVE OREGON WILDLIFE OFFICIALS ASKING ANTLER SEEKERS TO HOLD OFF TILL THE RANGE GREENS UP AND DEER AND ELK CAN BEGIN TO RECOVER FROM THEIR WEAKENED STATES. (ODFW)

“We got two feet of snow in 24 hours here in central Oregon, and then another foot over the next 36 hours,” said Rob Tanner, co-founder and president of Oregon Shed Hunters, a group created to preserve the sport and promote ethical shed hunting. “It’s as much snow as I’ve seen in the 20 years I’ve lived here.

The local animals that I have been seeing are struggling,” he added.

At this time of year, deer and elk are in taking in little nutrition, relying on their body reserves and what forage they can get to under the snow and outer crust of ice. Being forced to make extra movements in response to dog, vehicle or human disturbance weakens them further, using up what little energy they have left. Even in years with more typical winter weather patterns, most winter mortality of deer and elk occurs in March and April—or as wildlife biologists put it, “Winter weakens, spring kills.”

A PAIR OF BULL ELK MOVE THROUGH A PORTION OF THE SNOWY WENAHA WILDLIFE AREA. SOME PARTS OF CENTRAL AND EASTERN OREGON RECEIVED GREATER THAN 160 PERCENT OF AVERAGE SNOWPACK. (ODFW)

ODFW is conducting its annual herd composition surveys the next few weeks and will know more about over-winter survival of big game later this spring. But already it’s clear that deer and elk will be especially vulnerable to stress during early spring this year—making responsible shed hunting even more critical.

ODFW wildlife biologists are encouraging shed hunters to be considerate of big game and even delay their search this year. “Our winter ranges are still covered in snow and deer are having a difficult time, so I encourage shed hunters to wait until after snow melts and even after green-up has started,” said Deschutes District Wildlife biologist Corey Heath. “Most antlers are buried now anyway.”

Oregon Shed Hunters agrees. “Our recommendation is that given the late storm and late pressure on animals, to hold off on shed hunting until the snow melts and give the animals time to disperse and access feeding areas,” said Tanner.

More about shed antlers and rules for hunting them in Oregon

Oregon’s buck deer shed their antlers from late December through March. Elk started shedding in late February and will continue into April. Shed hunters collecting these antlers, especially in early spring when deer and elk are at their most vulnerable, need to follow these rules:

  • Avoid disturbing big game animals: Don’t approach animals.
  • Respect winter range and road closures: Several wildlife areas (Elkhorn, Ladd Marsh, P.W. Schneider, Wenaha, White River) are closed until early to mid-April, and other winter range areas in central and northeast Oregon are closed or have travel restrictions. See the 2019 Oregon Big Game Regulations for details, http://www.eregulations.com/oregon/19orhd/regulations-wildlife-areas-refuges-special-areas/
  • Keep vehicles on open roads—or travel by foot or horseback. The ground will be especially water-logged this year and off-roading in the wrong place will damage critical wildlife and fish habitat.
  • 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 (and leashed at ODFW wildlife areas).  Don’t let dogs approach or follow wildlife. State law prohibits dogs (and people) from harassing wildlife. Reminder that dogs must be leashed at ODFW wildlife areas except when hunting game birds, in a posted dog training area, or in a parking area, campground or road open to vehicle traffic.
  • Don’t trespass on private property. You always need permission to be on private land. Antlers that are shed on private land belong to the landowner under Oregon statutes.
  • Know what you can keep: Only naturally shed antlers of deer and elk may be kept. Antlers attached to skulls may not be collected.

Oregon State Police Fish & Wildlife Troopers are conducing winter range patrols, using multiple resources such as ATVs, trail cameras and aircraft, to protect deer and elk during this critical time from both poachers and shed hunters violating road closures. Last year, they issued 41 citations and 41 warnings for various wildlife offenses from November-March on winter range.

AN OREGON FISH AND WILDLIFE TROOPER PATROLS THE STARKEY UNIT. ACCORDING TO STATE GAME MANAGERS, LIMITING DISTURBANCE OF BIG GAME BY THE PUBLIC IS A PATROL PRIORITY. (ODFW)

“Limiting disturbance to big game on winter range is critical for their over-winter survival and it’s an enforcement priority for us this time of year,” said Craig Heuberger, Lieutenant, Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division

Some states concerned about shed hunters’ impact on big game have put seasons in place. Oregon currently has no specific season or plans to implement one, but wildlife managers share concerns about disturbances to big game.

Hanford Site Shed Antler Hunters Charged

The lure of recently shed big buck and bull racks in off-limits land may have been too much for three Tri-Cities men charged with illegally collecting deer and elk antlers on the federal Hanford Nuclear Reservation this past winter.

A local newspaper reports that Isaac Hampton Case, 38, Daniel B. Charboneau, 32, and Stephen M. Dearinger Jr., 31, told a WDFW game warden at the Ringold boat launch Feb. 12 that they were just heading out to “learn” the Columbia River’s Hanford Reach.

THE HANFORD AREA IS KNOWN FOR ITS LARGE, BUT OFF-LIMITS BULL ELK. (USFWS)

But as tipped-off state as well as federal officers watched from concealed locations, the trio allegedly made four excursions onto the well-marked Department of Energy site, bringing back five pairs of deer antlers and one elk rack, according to the Tri-City Herald.

Case allegedly made four trips ashore, Dearinger three and Charboneau one.

If convicted of the misdemeanor offense, they face maximum penalties of a $1,000 fine and three months in jail, according to the paper.

If Charboneau’s name and Hanford rings a bell, it’s because he’s been in trouble before for being at the site.

In October 2012, he shot and killed a very large elk along the banks of the reservation in a no-hunting area, while a friend, Brock Miller, shot and killed two in an upland area nearby shortly afterwards.

As subcontractors working at Hanford, they would not only have known that monster bulls hang out there but also that nobody is allowed onto the federal property with guns or without permission, and hunting is forbidden.

Charboneau pleaded guilty to hunting big game without the right tag, while Miller pleaded to unlawful hunting while trespassing, hunting without tags, and using someone else’s tag. They were both fined $6,000.

Charboneau kept his job, but according to Herald reporter Annette Cary’s story yesterday, while he was listed as employed at the same company in February, he no longer is.

Case is no stranger to fish and wildlife officers either, having had his hunting license suspended for 10 years after a big game violation in the Blue Mountains, the paper reported.

Under a bill signed into law in 2015, antler collectors convicted of illegally entering private property to retrieve deer and elk racks can no longer keep them. Before then, paying the fine for trespassing was considered the cost of collecting sheds that could still be sold for profit.

OSP Looking For Details On 2 In Closed Wildlife Area

UPDATE 12:25 P.M., APRIL 12, 2017: IN A TWEET, OSP REPORTS IDENTIFYING THE SUBJECTS

During the depths of one of the most severe winters in recent decades, two men apparently decided they just didn’t need to abide by big game range closures.

Unfortunately for them, a trail cam snapped their photos as well as potential evidence on their backs, and now Oregon wildlife troopers want to know who they are.

A COMPOSITE CLOSE-UP OF THE TWO MEN OSP WISHES TO TALK TO ABOUT ALLEGED WILDLIFE VIOLATIONS ON THE WHITE RIVER WILDLIFE AREA ON FEB. 4, 2017. (OSP)

Yesterday, the state police put out photos of the duo, who appear to be in their 20s and were dudded up in camo and carrying backpacks with antlers poking out the tops.

OSP says the two are thought to have been involved in violating wildlife laws on North-central Oregon’s White River Wildlife Area in late February.

(OSP)

It wasn’t immediately clear what OSP meant by wildlife violations, but about half of the 30,000-acre wildlife area, which sits east of Mt. Hood near Tygh Valley, is closed through the end of March to protect winter-weakened deer and elk.

Less than a week after the incident, ODFW put out a press release quoting a prominent member of the state’s shed hunting fraternity advising antler seekers to put off their trips until spring.

“It’s easy to think since there is not a lot of snow now that the critters are fine, but that’s not necessarily the case,” Rob Tanner of Oregon Shed Hunters said in the release. “It’s making it difficult for wildlife to get around, especially deer.”

Anybody with information on the two individuals are being asked to call OSP Senior Trooper Craig Gunderson at (541) 980-2693.