Antler Opener
As darkness fell over the town of Jackson on Tuesday, April 30th, antler hunters from all over the region began jostling for position to access the big game winter ranges of the Bridger Teton National Forest that lie adjacent to the National Elk Refuge on the edge of town. A total of 239 vehicles, to be precise, lined Broadway from the entrance of the National Elk Refuge nearly back to the town square. 

At precisely midnight, no more than a minute into the opening day on May 1, officials allowed the eager antler hunters access through the National Elk Refuge to trailheads on the national forest. 

Once on national forest lands, antler hunters equipped with powerful hand-held lights fan out and light up the hillsides. The search continues until daybreak and beyond, with some antler hunters grabbing a quick nap on the ground before forging on. 

The May 1 opener is always a busy day for Jackson game wardens tasked with tagging "deadheads" antler hunters have found. As per Wyoming state law, any antlers or horns found in Wyoming that are still attached to the skull need to be tagged with an Interstate Game Tag by a Wyoming Game and Fish law enforcement officer. Individuals need to contact a game warden prior to removing the head from the field and there is an $8.00 fee for the tag.

The requirement for contacting a Game and Fish Warden before removing it from the field is in place so that enforcement officials can be comfortable the head isn't the result of a poaching incident. 

Many antlers will be bought and sold at upcoming antler events in the area. The annual Antler Rendezvous in the town of Alpine, WY, was held May 11-17, and the annual antler auction and ElkFest celebration took place on the Jackson town square Saturday, May 18.

Mark Gocke, Public Information Specialist, 307-249-5811

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