What are you even doing with yourself? You’re somehow entering the 13th month of winter. Football is over, most hunting seasons have passed, and it’s far too cold to go camping and fishing. Well, cheer up chum. It’s time to strap on the boots and get out and find yourself some white gold, aka antler sheds. Look no further because here is your definitive guide to shed hunting in Colorado.
Shed Hunting in Colorado – Rules and Regulations
Now hold up, BEFORE you go marching into the woods, make sure you brush up on current rules, as Colorado Parks and Wildlife have updated their rules for hunting sheds in Colorado.
The big thing to remember is the dates. They have closed antler shed hunting from January 1st thru April 30th on all public land West of I-25. The key words being public land. If you know someone with land, or, you are the adventurous type that likes to knock on doors, you can get out there early and start collecting.
If you don’t have ONx Maps yet, I suggest you get yourself some! This way you can get the property owner’s name and contact info long before you head out looking for sheds.
If you are shed hunting in Colorado’s units 55, 56, 66, 67, 551 in the Gunnison Basin then there are further restrictions. From May 1st thru May 15th, you can not hunt for sheds from Sunset – 10:00 AM. This is to protect the Gunnison Sage Grouse.
My advice, if you want to get out there and look for sheds early, don’t. There is a reason they don’t want thousands of people out there bothering the deer and elk when the winter is still upon them. It DOES affect their winter migrations to have thousands of people tromping through the woods while they are in their most fragile state.
Check Colorado Parks and Wildlife if you have any questions about the legality of what you are doing.
Shed Antler Hunting Tips
Okay, everyone has their opinions of where to look for sheds but I’ll weigh in with my two cents. I personally follow this mantra when hunting for sheds in Colorado:
Look in places that I would like to hunt elk in the future.
Scout, and look for sheds. It’s a win-win. Right?
Well, at least I think so. Nonetheless, there are a lot of disputing opinions here.
Whereas, bull elk will routinely break off from the herd later in the Winter, and they may not follow typical migration patterns.
Furthermore, elk sheds can be found at nearly any elevation from 5,000′ to 10,000′.
This fact alone gives you an unbelievable range to look for elk sheds.
In my opinion, to narrow down your search, my advice is to find an area you would like to scout. You will be surprised at what you will learn about deer and elk while searching for horns. Look for signs of rutting animals from the previous year, and that will give you a good starting point for placing your trail cameras for the fall.
Try searching near really hard to access, thick shrubbery. Male deer and elk can agitate their antlers just enough to knock them off in these locations. Also, check near fence lines as jumping up and over them can jar them just enough to shed.
The truth is you can walk miles and miles and not discover a single shed one day, and the next day you may find 4-5 in a 100-yard radius. Like any type of hunting you never know, it’s the thrill of the chase that drives you. Shed hunting in Colorado is no different.
Shed Hunting Gear to Bring
I know, I know Mr. Daniel Boone … You got this.
But here are a few items that I personally prefer to have with me when I am out scouting and searching for antler sheds.
Check out my write up for the best elk hunting boots by clicking here. You can’t go wrong with any of these options while shed hunting in Colorado. It’s going to likely be cold, and the wet, heavy, winter snow can be a problem when it comes to traction while carrying (hopefully) those heavy loads of antler sheds.
Now I won’t sit here and blow smoke up your butt and tell you I hunt sheds with dogs in Colorado, but I know folks who do. Dogs are an excellent resource to find antler sheds, and if you are serious about this craft, I would definitely consider getting yourself a shed hunting dog. Don’t worry about going out and getting a puppy because this Shed Hunting Training Kit will help you train your adult dog or puppy easily.
I really like this SOG day-pack for many reasons. It takes a lot of walking and A LOT of miles to shed hunt in Colorado. If you are anything like me, you like to have all your trinkets with you on those long hikes. This 24L pack is the perfect combination of size and convenience. Use mini-bungees or zip ties to tie the antlers to this day-pack as you go.
No need to break the bank here. I wouldn’t bring your expensive hunting glass while shed hunting. Colorado mountains can be unforgiving, and I would hate to see you break your $2500.00 Swarovski’s looking for antlers. These Leupold’s are actually really impressive for the price and they are what I use for shed hunting.
Where to Sell Your Loot
As of December 2019 antler prices are up. In addition, there is currently a booming trend in the decorative antler market. Antler chandeliers are becoming a staple of homes all across the world. Plus the steady Asian market makes shed hunting in Colorado particularly lucrative, as elk sheds are paying $2-14+ a pound. Deer antlers can pay as well in Colorado and they fetch a decent price at $1-12 a pound. Larger and more rare racks can fetch hundreds of dollars on occasion.
Check antlerbuyers.com for current prices and for resources for selling your sheds online.
A good local resource for both selling as well as turning your Colorado antler shed into a work of art, I highly recommend Traders Rendezvous in Gunnison.
In the end, the likelihood is that you won’t get rich shed hunting in Colorado. Really what it gives you is an amazing workout and lets you scout new hunting areas, which is worth its weight in gold. White gold.
So, get up off the couch and start planning your shed hunting trip in Colorado’s great outdoors. Take it from me, the feeling of finding a unique and amazing set of antlers will leave you addicted to antler hunting for life.
Someone once said:
“If you are lucky enough to be in elk country, you are lucky enough.”
Like this post? Then check out our 2023 Colorado Mule Deer Hunting Guide as well.
Last Updated on July 24, 2023
Josh Riley lives in Colorado with his wife, Mary, and their three wild and crazy children. He’s an avid hunter, fisherman, backpacker, elk meat connoisseur, and international traveler.