Antlering: Hunters and Wildlife Watchers Both Love Collecting Antlers

You can congratulate me now: I just received an antlering permit from Utah after passing the 2010 Antler Gathering Ethics Course. I only got 95%, but they let me redo the question I missed. As gathering antlers shed in the winter by moose, elk and deer gets more popular among both hunters and wildife watchers, states are regulating the hobby so we don’t stress out the ungulates when they’re practically starving. It’s gotten so bad, even libertarian Wyoming has rules this year.

Utah’s online “class” is really to teach you not to follow or harass the animals. They don’t want people stalking¬† deer and elk in the winter and spring, when they could be stressed and starving. Even in a good year 40% of yearling deer and 20% of adults die, I learned. The stress of winter–low food, temperatures and light–can kill them off even into the spring. Expending energy to run away from somebody looking for antlers is the last thing they need. In a podcast, Anis Aoude, Utah’s Big Game Coordinator, says he’s caught people chasing animals around, waiting for their antlers.

The various species can loose antlers November through March. Aoude says shedding the antlers every year might help the animals survive because predators know that males are weak after the rut. The Utah rules say you have to have a permit to hunt for antlers in the spring; Wyoming, home of the National Elk Refuge, just bans horn hunters from December through April.

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New Brunswick Moose Cruise

I’ve heard about going with hunting guides on wildlife watching tours, but never done it. A guy I know who gives bear viewing (and not hunting) tours says the hunters mock the watchers. But the wildlife watching business isn’t nearly as developed as the hunting guide one. So where do you go if you want someone that really knows animals?

Staying in Fundy National Park I saw a brochure for nearby Adair’s Wilderness Lodge and their “wildlife tours.” Another couple in the park said everyone who went there loved it. I called and talked to Ida Adair, who said we might see deer or moose, but nothing’s guaranteed. Wildlife watchers know that’s part of the deal. The only ones who say you’re going to see an animal for sure either are lying or have some place staked out where habituated animals visit regular. The Adairs are neither. Also, they said taking our dog was fine. Larry Adair takes his shepherd with on trips, too.

We cruised around in Larry’s white van, pounding over dusty clay roads, looking in every field. A good part of the fun of the trip with Larry Adair is hearing his stories about his past adventures in the wild, with animals and with people. He may have been holding back any hunting stories that would’ve turned me off, but I think of him more as an enthusiastic outdoorsman. When I took a class for a hunting license for research, the instructor talked about the true

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