When it comes to teaching young hunters, proper ATV safety is just as important and proper care and handling of firearms. Bob Humphrey photo
By Bob Humphrey
Sometimes it might seem a little silly, or perhaps overly cautious, but the truth is, there are some pretty good reasons for wearing the right safety equipment when using an ATV or Side-by-Side vehicle for hunting and other outdoor recreation.
Helmet - Always wear a helmet. You may be the safest rider in the woods, but it’s the things you’re not expecting that will get you. Even at two or three miles an hour, an unseen sink hole could topple your ATV. During and after wind and rainstorms it’s quite common for branches to suddenly fall off and come crashing down. Another ATV could kick up rocks. Additionally, a helmet will block wind, cold and noise, protecting one of your most important hunting tools, your ears.
Goggles - Goggles will protect another of your principle predatory tools, your eyes, from flying debris, branches, dust and airborne insects. While it may not cause serious injury, an eye full of dust could bring a hasty end to your hunt. Conversely, an errant branch could literally put out an eye. When riding in open terrain on sunny days you should also consider tinted goggles to help block the sun.
Apparel - You should also wear proper apparel, including both footwear and clothing. Your boots should be at least ankle high. If you’re riding a four-wheeler, you may even want to go higher. Knee-high rubber boots are one option. Another are the lace-up snake boots that are so popular with turkey hunters. Both will provide extra protection, especially when riding through the woods, or shallow water crossings. You’ll also want a solid rubber sole that will provide a good grip on footrests.
A long-sleeved shirt or jacket and long pants will protect your limbs from whipping branches, briars and other abrasions, not to mention sunburn and the elements. The same is true for gloves. Not only will they protect your hands from injury, they’ll also allow a more secure grip on the handlebars or steering wheel.
It may take you a few seconds or a few minutes extra to adorn the right safety gear. But it could help prevent serious injury and even save your life. And when it comes to spending time outdoors, I’d much rather be tardy than absent.