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Shed Hunting

As March snow melts away, an off-season activity that many deer hunters pursue is looking for shed antlers.

Both whitetail and mule deer bucks, and moose and elk, lose their antlers during winter, typically in January and into February, though occasionally these big game animals are seen with antlers still intact in late March or even early April.

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department reminds shed hunters that while collection of naturally shed deer, elk and moose antlers is legal and no permit required, possession of antlers attached to the skull plate require a permit before possession is allowed. Permits may be issued by Game and Fish game wardens, and other law enforcement personnel on a case by case basis. Game warden phone numbers are all listed on the Game and Fish website at

“Individual antlers that are naturally separated from the skull do not require a permit,” said chief of enforcement Robert Timian. “If the antlers are not naturally separated from the skull, a permit is required before you could remove them from the field.”

Timian also reminds shed hunters to avoid disturbing deer that are congregated. “Deer generally disperse from larger groups this time of year, but if large groups are hanging out in good winter habitat, it’s best to avoid those areas until later in the spring,” he said.