Naturally Shed Antler Hunting Subject To State Rules

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Shed antler hunting is a great way to get in touch with nature and experience hands-on the cycle of life.

Every spring, deer, elk and other upland wildlife lose their antlers. They grow them all winter long, keep them through mating season, then the antlers fall off (or are shed) and the process begins anew.

A common question asked of the Arizona Game and Fish Department is if individuals may pick up and keep the head or any part of wildlife they find dead in the field. What may appear to be an easy question actually requires a complicated answer.

State law requires an individual to have evidence of legality when possessing or transporting wildlife carcasses or their parts. A hunting license and/or big game tag meets this requirement for wildlife lawfully taken during hunting season. However, if an individual in the field finds dead wildlife, or any part of an animal he or she did not legally take during the hunt, then that individual may not automatically possess and/or transport any of it. An exception is that there are no restrictions on the possession of naturally shed of cast antlers.

If an individual wishes to keep such wildlife parts found in the field (other than shed antlers), he/she must contact the Arizona Game and Fish Department so an officer can determine the cause of death of the animal. If it is determined the animal died from a natural cause, such as predation, disease, fights, falls, drowning, lightning, etc., the wildlife part may be possessed by the individual.

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