MDC reminds the public to report antlers found with the skull plate attached this spring
COLUMBIA, Mo. – As winter transitions into spring, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) reminds the public that all deer antlers with the skull plate attached that are found this spring must be reported to a local conservation agent.
Deer antlers grow each summer on male deer. They harden into bone by fall and become weapons in an eons-old game for domination as bucks battle for the chance to mate with does. Then, nature recycles the minerals and nutrients as bucks shed their antlers in late winter or early spring.
Simplicity and getting outdoors makes looking for shed antlers a popular late-winter activity for individuals and families. There are no bag limits or special equipment, and unlike most hunting, shed hunting does not have to be a quiet activity. It is important to note that, while there are no shed limits, there are some rules when it comes to keeping antlers with the skull plate still attached.
According to chapter 10 of Missouri’s Wildlife Code, any antler found with the skull plate still attached must be reported to the county’s conservation agent within 24 hours of the shed being located if the finder intends to keep the antlers. The presence of a skull plate attached to an antler suggests that the deer is likely deceased. The agent will then document that the antler and skull plate were found, and this process of documentation allows agents to confirm that the deer was not taken illegally. Please note that antlers found without the skull plate attached do not need to be reported to the local conservation agent.
For those looking to shed hunt this spring, Moniteau County Conservation Agent Nathaniel Hodges recommends searching for shed antlers in open fields that are surrounded by woods. “The open lay of the land allows a better viewpoint of the sheds laying on the ground, and deer appreciate the cover that the nearby woods provide.”
Hodges also recommends searching along natural food plots as deer will congregate in those areas to eat. Finally, another tip for shed hunting is that deer typically like to shake off both sides of antlers at the same time; if one side is found, the other may be nearby.
For a list of each county’s conservation agent, go to https://short.mdc.mo.gov/4ok.