When Do Elk Shed Their Antlers in Arizona?

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Different deer species, including the Roosevelt elk, carry a stunning set of antlers, which are aesthetically pleasing. Unfortunately, these antlers have to be shed annually, so when do elk shed their antlers in Arizona? The male elk shed their antlers between February and April. For some, shed hunt is a hobby, and for others, it is a business.  

Do female elks have antlers? Antlers are dominant in male elks, but there are unique cases where the female elks will grow antlers.  

For whatever reason, it seems more outdoor enthusiasts are looking for sheds more than ever. The competition to be the first one to find the antlers and gain profit from them may result in unethical activities that are of concern to different state wildlife authorities, including Arizona.

Shed Hunting in Arizona

Early summer and springtime offer great fun for shed-hunting enthusiasts in Arizona. It can be tremendous fun hiking for antler sheds, not forgetting the immeasurable benefit of some exercise. Exploring the hills and canyons with colleagues or family is quite rewarding and brings excellent experiences. 

Guiding the youngsters and watching them as they find a bone, a feather, and finally mastering how to pick antlers can bring ever-recurring memories. Even teaching your kid how to identify a track can be a rewarding moment. It would be best if you were willing to stop whenever the youngsters find an exciting thing and watch their every step to ensure their safety.

When is the Right Time for Shed Hunting?

It is to your advantage if you arrive on the hunting scene before the animals drop their antlers, and the perfect time for this would be late January or early February. 

When antlers are very fresh, there are high chances of having blood elements where it left the skull. Therefore, you need to be there to collect the antlers before the coyotes find them. 

Regulations Concerning Shed Hunting in Arizona

 In Arizona, there are no strict laws regarding shed hunting, and you don’t require permits to shed hunt in this state. Other states with similar provisions include Oregon, Idaho, New Mexico, and Washington.

Arizona is endowed with different species of deer, but the elk are most adorable for hunting. The male elk start shedding their antlers in mid-Feb, March, and late April and the subsequent antler growth begins after that. 

The only major law is about collecting the deadheads. These are the antlers that are still attached to the skull, and it is illegal to touch or collect them. 

What to Do When You Come Across a Deadhead in Arizona

When you come across a deadhead, you should take photos from different angles, get the GPS location, and report the DWR case. They must do the necessary investigations and retrieve the deadhead. If the authorities ascertain that the elk died of natural causes, they may grant you permission to keep the deadhead or sell it.  

The laws in Utah are a bit stricter compared to Arizona.  In Utah, you have to undergo a free short course in antler gathering ethics, which, upon completion, you can print the certificate, and you’re ready to go. 

For the deadheads, both Arizona and Utah possess the same prohibition.

Unethical Behaviors in Collecting Antlers in Arizona

Destruction of Habitats

For a long time, shed hunting has been done while walking. But there is an increasing concern as many people are now opting to hunt sheds while driving four off-road ATVs. This is a major cause of damage to sensitive habitats such as riparian areas and alpine meadows. 

Human Interaction with Elks off Hunting Season

The other unethical and illegal activity associated with Arizona shed hunting is human-elk interaction when the animals are recuperating from the rut and undergoing winter ranges. 

As shed hunters move around these animals, they increase the stress levels and may affect the health of the calves to be born. Some unethical hunters pursue the animals either on foot, with ATVs, or on horseback, hoping that the animals will knock their antlers off as they run through trees. This activity is both unethical and illegal in Arizona and other states.

Elk Antlers Growth Cycle- Amazing Facts

 The adult male elk begin to grow new antlers in spring. Antlers are counted as part of the skull referred to as a pedicle. When the antlers start growing, they emerge as a cartridge, which is replaced with bone as they continue growing.

 Another fascinating fact about antlers is that they feature a furry skin layer, typically referred to as velvet, as they grow. This skin layer has a network of blood capillaries that transport nutrients and oxygen to the antlers’ tip. This system helps them to grow at a rate of one inch per day.

 In late summer and early autumn, the antlers shed off the velvet skin, leaving the bull with a set of 40-pound antlers. By this time, these antlers have hardened and are solid bone. We say that the antlers have completed their growth at this stage as they are no longer receiving nutrients. 

In elk’s world, antlers play critical roles.

 Apart from defense, bulls use their antlers to fight each other as they compete over the right to mate with cows. Antlers are an indication of the bull’s health and ability. Their growth is an energy-hungry process, and if an elk has incredible antlers, it shows that he has a high metabolism. It also indicates that the bull can find great food and consume.

Antler Shedding Process

The antlers will fall off by themselves from the base of the animal’s skull. The Osteoclasts re-absorb some bony tissue near the pedicle. These are the same kind of bone cells which are responsible for converting antler cartridges into hard bones. The shedding process starts with a drop in the testosterone levels, which in turn causes the pedicle to weaken.

Conclusion

Before going for shed hunting, it is crucial to familiarize yourself with the state’s laws regarding wildlife protection. It would also help if you did the correct timing to increase the chances of getting the best quality. It will help you if you go to the hunting spots earlier before the elk drop the antlers. There are no strict laws regarding shed hunting in Arizona, and you only need to ensure you don’t engage in illegal and unethical shed hunting methods. However, deadheads are illegal to take home without prior assessment by the wildlife department.

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