SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – As wintertime arrives, many Utahns are looking forward to collecting the antlers that are shed by deer, elk and moose during the season.

Although it may be tempting to venture outdoors for “shed hunting,” be aware that an ethics course must be completed before doing so.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) is reminding the public of the mandatory course before they head out to collect antlers from Feb. 1 to April 15. Wildlife officials say the late winter and early spring season is a tough time for deer, elk, and moose.

“During winter, big game animals, especially deer, often have a difficult time finding food,” DWR Law Enforcement Capt. Chad Bettridge said. “If you spook an animal and cause it to run, the animal has to use up fat reserves and energy that it needs to make it through the winter.”

The wintertime habitat that big game animals rely on are typically wet which makes it more vulnerable to damage. But gatherers can learn how to peacefully collect antlers without damaging animals’ habitats or stressing them out.

The course is free and after completion, folks are allowed to gather antlers anywhere in Utah with a few exceptions — wildlife management areas and private property. Check wildlife management area closures before heading out. For private property, make sure to collect written permission from the landowner before gathering antlers.

Officials say if a skull with antlers attached is discovered, do not pick up or disturb the skull as poaching may be the cause. Authorities say photos should be taken of the scene from various angles, pinpoint the location using a GPS tracking device, and report the find to the nearest DWR office or by texting 847411. A conservation officer will investigate the scene and finders are allowed to keep the antlers if the animal died of natural causes.

For more information on collecting antlers, click here. To access the free 2022 Antler Gathering Ethics Course, click here.