Shed Hunting II
Spring time in Colorado can be a tricky time of year; it was snowing yesterday morning, then today it was 64 degrees and sunny, a beautiful day to get outside and do some hiking, fishing, scouting, or hunting for antler sheds. I wrote about this a while back, so I won’t focus too much on what it is about, (you can read that here) but basically this is the time of year to find shed deer, elk, and moose antlers. What I do want to talk about tonight is considering the animals themselves while you are searching for their sheds as this is very important this time of year.
Deer and elk are still struggling with getting over the winter months right now, they have been living on little browse and mostly winter fat, they are weak and vulnerable. It is critical that we don’t disturb them if we come across deer and elk in the wild, this time of year or any time really unless you are hunting them, and even then you only want to disturb one of them for a brief second. If you come across deer and elk in the wild, it’s OK to observe them from a distance, but not close enough that they have a sense of fear by your presence. If you are observing animals and see that they notice you, back away calmly and leave them alone.
The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission reports that several times a year in the spring people use ATVs and four wheel drive vehicles to chase deer and elk, hoping to cause an animal to break off his antlers if he still has them. Animals are often chased into roadways where they are struck by cars, resulting in damage to the animal and humans alike. Obviously this is an unethical and ridiculous activity, but it can also result in some hefty fines for those who are caught. I seriously doubt the people who perform those kinds of acts would be anyone reading this article, but I want you to understand that they are out there, unfortunately.
In Colorado and other states, certain areas of wilderness are blocked from human activity at this time of year for the sole reason that I mentioned above, to allow the animals to remain undisturbed while they are at their weakest point of health during the year. Loud noise, fast moving vehicles and other disruptive human activity is a serious concern because it can stress animals that are trying to conserve energy, leading to higher mortality, especially in fawns and calves. Before you head out to shed hunt, be sure to check with your department of wildlife or land management authority to make sure the place you want to go is accessible.
As always, when you venture out into the wild, take your normal preparations; proper clothing, water, and survival gear. Spring time in the Rockies can be as unpredictable as a horse with a burr in its saddle, so always be prepared!