Letter: Unnecessary restrictions on shed hunting

Dear Editor:

Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s (CPW) restrictions on shed antler collecting is an unnecessary and overreaching act of the government. CPW’s reasoning for the placement of the regulations and an outdoorsman’s views are as follows.

1. CPW: More people are in the outdoors pushing deer and elk around during a critical phase of the animal’s transition from winter survival to spring and summer recovery.

Outdoorsman’s view: This may be true, but most people only shed hunt on weekends, leaving wildlife largely undisturbed five days out of seven. Show us a coyote or mountain lion that will give deer and elk that good of a break.

2. CPW: People are using OHVs off of established roads and are harming the environment.

Outdoorsman’s view: This is also true, but there are already regulations in place prohibiting irresponsible use of OHVs (and not just by shed hunters), so new regulations are NOT necessary.

3. CPW: People chase and harass wildlife during the normal shed hunting season.

Outdoorsman’s view: This is another instance where the government needs to enforce already existing laws instead of making new ones.

4. CPW: Some people have dogs with them while shed hunting in the field, and that this is more stressful on wildlife.

Outdoorsman’s view: People use dogs for hunting coyotes and mountain lions during the same time of year, and there is no problem with it; as long as the dogs are not used to harass deer and elk (again, already prohibited).

5. CPW: Some people use antler traps to bait wildlife in and snag their antlers.

Outdoorsman’s view: If anything, this practice should be encouraged, because not only is wildlife NOT being harassed, they ARE being fed. Wildlife that is fed is healthier, and the health of the animals is what CPW claims it is concerned about in the first place. When it comes down to it, governmental interference and regulation (especially in a matter as trivial as shed hunting, instead of something meaningful, like poaching) really only accomplish one thing: resentment and disloyalty of those whom the regulations are thrust upon.

The more resentful the attitude of those governed, the less likely they are to respect and honor those who are set to govern them. The people in the field who already break existing laws in regards to wildlife harassment and abuse of the environment are not going to be magically turned into law-abiding citizens by the mere addition of regulations; the dishonest will still be dishonest, but on the other hand, the honest may not stay that way. They see the “bad guys” getting all the antlers while the “good guys” sit at home till the season opens and get punished as a result—because they followed the laws and got gypped. Also, if the CPW cannot enforce the regulations that have been previously made, then what makes them think they can enforce new ones?

Wise and efficient training institutions and programs do not try to force perfection and accomplishment upon their participants; they teach them correct principals and sound methods, allow them to make attempts on their own, and allow them to fail sometimes. After failure, they allow the participants another chance, usually with additional coaching and encouragement.

Such should be the case with shed hunting. If it is true that deer and elk are being decimated by the harassment of shed hunters, then let them feel the consequences in the fall as fewer tags are available for the hunting season. This way, there will be fewer regulations made and outdoorsmen will not be as upset with the government; people will have the opportunity to make their own choices, learn from the natural consequences, and become smarter, better citizens as a result. Aren’t these the kind of citizens every nation should want?

The real issue here is not shed hunting, it is the government’s imposition on freedom—just as the Boston Tea Party was about freedom—not tea. CPW needs to back off, retract all regulations on shed hunting, and quit being a bureaucratic babysitter.

Landon Wardell