Shed hunting

Photo Credit: Courtesy of CDFW

by California Department of Fish & Wildlife

Question: Is shed hunting allowed in California? If I am hiking, scouting or hunting during an open season, am I allowed to pick up and take antlers or skulls found on state or federal lands? If I’m on a friend’s private property, can I take antlers or skulls? (Jeremiah)

Answer: Shed hunting is a great way to get out and observe wildlife in the off season. It can also provide insight into the number and size of bucks/bulls that survived winter and may be around for next hunting season. Unfortunately, your options for shed hunting in California are somewhat limited.

The collection of sheds on California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) lands is prohibited. This includes state wildlife areas, ecological reserves and other types of land managed by CDFW. California Code of Regulations (CCR) Title 14, section 550(g) states that “except for the take of fish or wildlife in compliance with general and site-specific hunting and fishing regulations … no visitor shall take any entire or parts of plants, animals or minerals from department lands.”

However, you can pick up deer and elk sheds from some public lands not managed by CDFW (please check with the managing agency for the property you are planning to visit). You can collect sheds on private property if you have written permission to be there. Shed hunting is generally allowed on National Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management land. For regulations on selling sheds, please see Fish and Game Code, section 3039(c).

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