Shed Hunting & Conservation

The White Tailed Deer bucks around New Jersey begin to drop their antlers as early as December or as late as March.  The lack of snow this winter has made shed hunting easier then in years past.  I found a shed on December 31st and recently another on January 29th.  The recent find happened to be a shed from last year that managed to go unnoticed by wildlife looking for a nutritious snack.  The antlers are an excellent treat for animals the size of rodents up to coyotes craving calcium.

Deer Antler on Forest Floor

As I walk in search of sheds it gives me time to think back on my season and harvests that I made to fill my freezer for the year. These areas I walk are conserved lands thanks to the American system of conservation funding and the principles of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. The sale of hunting, fishing and trapping licenes by each state, excise taxes collected on the manufacture of firearms, ammunition and archery tackle (Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act), and excise taxes collected on fishing equipment (Dingell-Johnson Federal Aid in Sportfish Restoration Act of 1950 and the Wallop-Breaux Aquatic Resources Trust Fund of 1984). All these funds are managed by the Wildlife and Sportfish Restoration program at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The federal dollars are matched on the state level by money collected from the sale of hunting, fishing and trapping licenses and they in turn bankroll state fish and game agencies. This dedicated funding helps to conserve wildlife by funding dedicated professionals who restore habitat and manage land. when hunters and fisherman tax themselves in this way they have proven to have the most successful approach to wildlife conservation in the world that allows public access without limiting access to only the wealthy.

David Alexander is a professional outdoor guide and conservation biologist.  He enjoys making nature more accessible to people and wildlife.  You can follow him at


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