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Through the Lens

Sheds are Starting to Drop

Wed, January 17, 2018

Sheds are starting to drop in southern Illinois, and I am still amazed by the number of times I see references made on social media and in the various forums about shed hunting in State Parks. This seems to be a terribly confusing thing for folks hunting sheds in Illinois so I reached out to IDNR and asked that they provide a little guidance and explanation about just how and where you can and can’t hunt sheds in IL.

The response was pretty cut and dried and in truth - exactly as I remembered it to be.

“Based upon past DNR legal opinions and state law (20 ILCS 835/6), shed deer antlers are an “inanimate natural object” and may not be collected from any State Park. Similarly, the Natural Areas Preservation Act (525 ILCS 30/23) prohibits the removal of any object (including shed antlers) from any Dedicated Nature Preserve or buffer areas. The public may however collect shed antlers from all other lands managed by the IDNR, including Fish & Wildlife Areas, Conservation Areas, Recreation Areas, and Boat Access Areas, provided the area is otherwise open to the public.”

In a nutshell, nope you can’t shed hunt or remove sheds from State Parks, Dedicated Nature Preserves, or buffer areas in Illinois. Additionally, if you are going to shed hunt on private land, insure that you have permission to shed hunt on that property or you may find yourself facing a trespassing ticket.

Moving on - let’s talk for a minute about finding deadheads, or skulls with antlers - not only do the shed hunting rules apply, but there’s the added part of having to call in to get a salvage tag for that skull. Technically the head should be left in place until you have permission from a CPO to remove it and have been issued a salvage tag.

This all may seem a little over the top, after all they are just shed antlers but as shed hunting continues to grow in popularity so does the number of people heading to the forests and fields in search of them. There are areas where it gets nearly as contentious as mushroom hunting in the spring. Out of towners and non residents show up to run entire groups through areas on the hunt for “Big Illinois Antlers”.  Would it be likely that shed hunting here would become as regulated as it is in some Western states - I seriously doubt it, but as always it behooves all of us to follow the rules that we have, so that we don’t find ourselves facing any that could be more strict or cumbersome - or worse - an unwanted wildlife violation. 

Just like any other hunt of a natural resource on public land, mind you manners, mind the regs, and play nice. Good luck this shed season !


I put 4 miles in yesterday and didn’t find squat.

Posted by buckbull on January 29

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