Shed Hunting is Illegal in This State!

Awesome shed! Pick it up in West Virginia, however, and you are breaking the law! (photo courtesy of Joe Shead)

Awesome shed! Pick it up in West Virginia, however, and you are breaking the law! (Photo: Joe Shead)

If you’re doing a little post-season scouting, you may come upon an antler shed or two. Heck, you’ll probably be tempted to pick it up and keep it, particularly if it’s a large piece of bone that’ll elicit plenty of “oooos” and “ahhhhs” from your hunting buddies.

All shed hunters know that with finding an impressive shed (or a matching set) comes status. It not only means you’re good at locating sheds, but that the brute that carried the impressive headgear is still alive and kicking, and you’ve got the jump on its whereabouts. 

But before you pick up and keep that shed, you need to know that, in the West Virginia, possessing antler sheds from a deer (or elk) you didn’t legally harvest is illegal.

Yup – that’s right – ILLEGAL!

“Those [antler sheds] are considered parts of wildlife,” said Emily Fleming, director of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR). “You cannot keep, maintain, or possess parts of wildlife unless you legally kill it.”

Before you scoff at the notion of getting busted for having sheds in the back of your truck, the prohibition isn’t an antiquated law that conservation officers just ignore.

“West Virginia does enforce this law,” said Gary Foster, assistant chief of game management for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR). “Violators have been cited for having sheds in their possession.”

Foster added that the law has been on the books for decades, although the law’s intent remains unclear. Specifically, the prohibition against owning sheds from animals you didn’t legally bag can be found in Chapter 20 (Natural Resources) of the West Virginia Code:

§20-2-4. Possession of wildlife
(a) Except for wildlife lawfully taken, killed or obtained, no person may have in his or her possession any wildlife, or parts thereof, during closed seasons.

Perhaps even more interesting is how far West Virginia goes to prevent shed possession. The next subsection lays it out:

(b) Wildlife lawfully taken outside of this state is subject to the same laws and rules as wildlife taken within this state [emphasis added].

This means that if you pick up some sheds in another state, you better leave them there, because you could find yourself in legal hot water if you bring them into West Virginia.

Possessing an antler shed is a misdemeanor offense and punishable by a fine of $20 to $200 for each incident, plus court costs. In other words, one very successful shed hunting endeavor could cost you hundreds of dollars.

To top it off, the WVDNR will confiscate the sheds.

There is some good news. Senate Bill 473 proposes to exempt sheds from the statute, meaning that it would be legal to hunt and possess deer and elk sheds.

“Currently the bill has passed the Senate and will be taken up by the Natural Resources Committee in the House on March 28th,” Foster added. “It has a very good chance of passing, and by April 8, we should know the outcome of the bill.”

Stay tuned to find out if the West Virginians get the green light to go after sheds!

Click to get your shed hunting collection today.

Click to get your shed hunting collection today.

The exclusive DDH Shed Hunting Collection will help you learn where to look and find more shed antlers. You’ll get a super book devoted entirely to shed antler hunting and 2 DVDs, in which Joe Shead takes you on a late-winter and early spring search for antlers along with a trip out west in search of elk and mule deer sheds. Get yours today!