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Antler worship

By Merrill Ogden - | Mar 29, 2023

I was in a conversation recently with a few guys and the topic of “shed hunting” came up. The guy next to me, a recent move-in from the East, looked a little confused. I quietly asked him if he knew about shed hunting. He wondered if it meant looking for interesting, storage out buildings.

I clued him in that it means looking for the horns or antlers that have been shed by deer and elk. The “sheds” are lying around on the ground up in the mountains. It’s a popular hobby and “treasure hunting” activity in Utah generally and Sanpete County in particular.

Normally, between Feb. 1 and April 15, a person has to have an “antler gathering certificate” from the state, when hunting for sheds. The certificate is free, but a course has to be taken online with the state of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. No certificate in necessary other times of the year.

However, in this “abnormal year,” the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources announced a statewide emergency closure to shed hunting from Feb. 7 through April 30. It’s “an effort to help wintering deer and elk across Utah,” according to the statement. I’m assuming that May 1 is marked on quite a few calendars for heading to the hills.

I believe that the activity of shed hunting is growing in Sanpete County and Utah in general. It’s what I call “Antler worship.” Hunting for the antlers of deer and elk is very popular. There has always been this “Cult of Antlers,” but it seems bigger now than ever.

It seems like about every other pick-up truck in the county has some sort of antler decal in the rear window or side window. Okay, maybe not quite that many. But if a story is worth telling, it’s worth exaggerating, right?

I did a little research. I pretended that I was going to buy an antler decal for my truck. I goggled “decals of antlers for vehicles” and the computer showed tons of results. Like I said, it’s a big deal.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. We value what we love. And guys and gals in this part of the world love wildlife and hunting. I’ve watched this phenomenon of antler worship grow over my lifetime.

This high interest in antlers has me baffled a little bit. I grew up thinking that a deer mount with antlers was just a substitute for a hat rack. We had neighbors that used the antlers of a big buck head mount as just that – a place to hang hats.

People have always liked putting up antlers on the garage or other out buildings (sheds). It’s fun for them to show off that they had shot bucks on the hunt at some time or another. Each set of antlers has its own story.

Where to hang the deer head or just a set of antlers has been a point of heated arguments between husbands and wives since time began. After being kicked out of the Garden of Eden, Adam came home with a four-point buck he was proud of and wanted to hang the deer head above the fireplace.

Eve wasn’t impressed. The mount ended up being displayed in the wood shed. I think that story is based on an obscure series of verses in the book of Genesis somewhere.

If you really want to see antlers, Jackson Hole, Wyoming is the place to do it. The elk antler arches at the town square are made up of thousands of antlers.

I know that in some countries, antlers are ground up and used for the purported purposes of making bigger muscles, easing arthritis and, of course, as an aphrodisiac type of love potion. Somehow, I think the Food and Drug Administration would have its doubts on any of those health claims.

I don’t think God gets too concerned about all of this antler worship that’s going on. I’m thinking of the Ten Commandments now. I think the first commandment is something like, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”

There’s not much to worry about here relative to “antler worship.” We all have interests and hobbies. I think God understands.

If it’s not a fantastic “antler shed” found on the mountain and a decal in the window for it, it’s a brand of truck that we put a decal in the window for. (Like it’s not already identified and advertised two or three other places on the vehicle)

Some of us worship a sports team and proudly display and advertise the logos and names all over our cars or trucks. Some proudly display the name of their college or university or high school.

Others, oddly enough, want people to know which computer platform they use and support. And, of course, political views and parties and candidates are put out there for everyone to see what form our political philosophy takes.

I, for one, haven’t been much for putting decals and advertisements on my vehicles. I’m not yet motivated to get a decal and join the “Church of the Antlers.” There are already enough members there and the competition for getting a nice hat rack for my garage wall is too keen.

I’m thinking though, that I’m going to check to see what decals are available for my favorite brands of ice cream and soda pop. I want the world to know that Meadow Gold brand Rocky Road, and an ice cream float with Mountain Dew Code Red soda over Wal-Mart brand Chocolate are my current Ten Commandment “graven image” violations.


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