I found a large, beautiful elk antler in the woods this past week. My wife seems to think there is a market for them, but I'm not sure whether it's legal to sell it. Is it?
— Dave, via email
Hunters and other woodsy folks like yourself, Dave, are now in the midst of what's called the shed-hunting season, with participants strolling through the forest with their heads down in search of deer or elk antlers.
Antlers start growing in the spring and eventually harden during the mating season. The blood supply is eventually cut off and the antlers fall off, or shed, one at a time in late winter or early spring.
Shed hunters often comb an area where they find one antler hoping to find its mate.
Most shed-hunters collect the antlers or use them in art projects.
People who collect shed antlers are allowed to sell or exchange them, but certain rules apply, according to Michelle Dennehy, wildlife division spokeswoman for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Only naturally shed antlers, antlers detached from the skull, or a skull split apart can be sold or exchanged, Dennehy says.
The rule stemmed from past poaching cases in which poachers killed animals to sell their antlers attached to skulls, she says. Because antlers not attached to skulls cannot be entered in record books, the individual antlers are less valuable, she says.
The rule reduces the incentive for someone to kill animals on winter range or out of season, hide the skull, and go back months later and "find" it, she says.
Also, a $17 Hide/Antler Dealer permit must be purchased from ODFW in order to buy antlers for use in the manufacture of handcrafted items, she adds.
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