Bucks not ready to shed antlers could easily become ensnared, Bordelon says
A new way to collect antler sheds that’s making the rounds on social media and online hunting forums is not legal in Louisiana, according to the state’s deer study leader.
A quick Google search reveals that “antler trapping” can be accomplished in numerous ways, but all setups pretty much revolve around putting out bait — either inside homemade wire boxes or within areas protected by rows of bungee cords — with the intent of knocking off antlers that are ready to shed as bucks feed.
“It’s altogether a bad idea because obviously there’s a chance of an animal getting ensnared in it, and actually causing mortality in the animal,” said Johnathan Bordelon, deer study leader with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. “They could put a foot through the wire — anything could happen to ensnare that animal and lead to its death. So it’s certainly not anything we would want to see people practicing.
“It would be unfortunate for a buck that made it through the trials of hunting season to succumb to getting snagged in some type of antler trap.”
And timing when to put out the traps here in Louisiana would be even more difficult because of the state’s long rutting season. Depending on location, a buck could easily get its antlers stuck in the device and not be ready to shed, he said.
“Our breeding is anywhere from October to January, so because of that you have a varying time of antler casting within the state,” Bordelon said. “Timing of antlers is dependent on the area. The breeding biology of those deer is going to determine when the antler casting is gong to occur. In those earliest breeding areas, those are obviously the areas where the earliest antler drop is.
“It’s all tied to testosterone levels in the body, so once those levels decline to a certain threshold, there’s chemical processes that begin that cause casting of the antler.”
Each animal is unique, so antler shedding times can vary greatly — on bucks within the same area, or even on the same property, he said.
“They don’t all drop at one time. They’re individual animals, and it happens over a period of time. So you could have no antlers on an animal one month before the same age animal on the same property is still walking around with them,” Bordelon said. “They don’t all fall off in a week — it’s a gradual process.
“That would be my biggest worry: people putting some kind of trap out there targeting animals. It’s just a bad idea — you can see the potential issues that could arise from folks that are trying to snare antlers, especially on deer that aren’t ready to cast.”
In an email, Bordelon confirmed through the LDWF’s Enforcement Division the devices are not legal in the state.
“Louisiana prohibits the trapping of deer in regulation,” Bordelon wrote. “Any device that could trap a deer is considered an illegal methods violation even if the intent was only to collect an antler.”