HELENA - Spring has certainly sprung, and that’s got a lot of us back outside and looking down.
Shed hunting for antlers dropped over the winter is an annual tradition for a lot of us here in Montana.
But before you run out to the mountains, just like anytime you head into the great outdoors, there are a few things you are going to want to check first.
“Depending on where you are there are different rules," explained Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) spokesman Morgan Jacobsen. "Wildlife Management Areas, for example, many of those don’t open until May 15. Some of them have different opening dates, so the best way to check on that is by visiting Montana, Fish and Parks’ website at FWP.MT.gov."
Block Management Areas are also on this time-sensitive list. Being private land, they are only open during hunting season and after signing in at the entrance.
Make sure you get permission before heading onto any private land looking for headgear.
State Parks are also off-limits when it comes to picking up sheds at any time of the year. And remember you are not the only thing out there that’s excited it's spring.
“Make sure you are prepared for a bear encounter," said Jacobsen. "Carry bear spray, have it accessible and know how to use it. Travel in groups as much as possible. One, because being in a group is safer, but two, it helps you make casual noise when you’re in the field alerting animals to your presence and reducing the risk of a surprise close encounter.”
Also, make sure you tell someone where you are going, and check the weather before taking off so you don’t get caught in a surprise spring snowstorm.
With the right preparation, shed hunting can be a great way to get out in the woods with family and friends and get some cool pieces of the wild while you’re at it.