Antler gatherers and the wardens who police them will no longer have to deal with the darkness as they set out on Wyoming’s shed hunting season.
Instead of midnight May 1, the season will from now on open at 12 p.m. May 1 on public lands in western and southern Wyoming, where shed hunting is banned from December through April.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission made the decision back in January, when it also expanded the seasonal closure zone to southeast Wyoming’s Snowy Range and Sheep Mountain. The department announced the change with a press release Wednesday.
“My local guys sit at the gate at midnight with 10 or 12 guys sitting there waiting,” Commissioner Ralph Brokaw, of Arlington, said at the January meeting. “I think they’re family men and women, and I don’t think they should be out in the dark doing that.”
Brokaw suggested amending the start time to 8 a.m., an idea that received a favorable reaction. Then Mike Schmid, of La Barge, proposed pushing it to midday.
“It just gets everybody out there in the broad daylight at a reasonable time of day,” he said.
Other commissioners and one member of the public who spoke up were on board with changing the start time, hopeful that it will be safer and that it will cut down on the chaos and illegal pre-midnight activities.
One man pointed out a 2015 incident in Teton County when a shed hunter’s horse drowned while he was trying to ford the Gros Ventre River at night.
Wyoming’s seasonal shed hunting ban on public land is meant to protect ungulates like mule deer, elk and moose by keeping people off their winter range during the toughest time of year for wildlife, when repeatedly expending calories by being disturbed by people can lead to death.
The December-to-April closure area covers lands west of the Continental Divide, south of Interstate 80, and south and east of U.S. Highway 287. A map and a copy of the updated regulations are attached to the online version of this story at JHNewsAndGuide.com.