JACKSON (WNE) — Bridger-Teton National Forest officials are considering changing the opening hour when people can begin to hunt for antlers on the east end of the National Elk Refuge to 6 a.m. May 1, six hours later than in past years.
The proposal would close a loophole that has allowed people to head out onto forest lands a few hours ahead of when the Wyoming Game and Fish Department has allowed people to pick up antlers.
In 2021, the national forest and state wildlife agency temporarily aligned the timing, hoping to avoid the lawlessness of 2020 when the Bridger-Teton opened at midnight and Game and Fish authorized pickup starting at noon. While some people got out early that year and rode past sheds they couldn’t legally pick up, others ignored the rules, picking antlers up early. Some shed hunters said they witnessed multiple fistfights.
Linda Merigliano, recreation program manager for the Bridger-Teton’s Jackson District, said lifting winter wildlife closures just east of the refuge at midnight April 30 has caused problems.
They’ve included “people tromping around in the middle of the night, running into bears, really bad weather conditions, hypothermia, people trying to cross rivers with horses and being swept away,” she said.
The Bridger-Teton is now hoping to clear up confusion and formalize the change that was made under a temporary order in 2021.