Be on the look-out for other hunters when riding to and from your hunting location, and offer assistance if it’s needed.
By Bob Humphrey
Deer seasons are in full swing in most states this month and many hunters will be using ATVs or Side-by-Sides for some part of their hunt. If you’re among them, you should be aware of a few guidelines. Some are common courtesy, others common sense.
Stay on Designated Trails - This is especially true for public land. But even on private land, unless you own it or have permission from the landowner, don’t go off-trail riding to and from your hunting location. You could unwittingly disturb or negatively impact other hunters, not to mention triggering the ire of the landowner.
Stay Away From Stands - Don’t ride/park near hunting stands. Taking it easy getting to your stand may make it harder on you, and other hunters. Engine noise, the metallic tick of a stationary ATV as it cools down, and the smell of fuel could frighten off deer. In most, but not all cases you’re better off riding part way and walking the rest.
There are exceptions to every rule. It may be acceptable to ride rather than walk if you’re physically incapable of walking, or are being dropped off in a SxS vehicle by another hunter. And you’ll certainly want to use your vehicle to retrieve game - with the landowner’s blessing.
Park During Peaks - Don’t ride during peak hunting hours. This applies to the exceptions above as well as the general rules. If you’re going to ride even part way, plan on going in well before light. If your morning hunt is successful, wait until later in the morning, when most hunters are done and deer movement has subsided before retrieving your deer. The same courtesy applies to afternoon hunts. Go in early. And whether you’re successful or not, don’t ride out until after dark.
Ride Safely - It should go without saying, but a friendly reminder never hurts. Ride slowly, especially in the dark. There may be other hunters riding or walking the same trails. You may also cross paths with a deer or other animal where and when you don’t want to. Make sure your weapons are unloaded at all times while riding; and preferably cased and strapped down so that no damage occurs to them. Watch for branches, cables, gates or other obstructions across the trail and always wear proper safety equipment.