By Bob Humphrey
Hunters and fishermen know the importance of arriving early and leaving late. Most fish and game moves best at twilight, which requires those who seek them to be on location before the sun rises and until after it sets. If you get to your hunting or fishing spot via ATV, that also means riding in the dark.
1) Check Lights - Check all lights to make sure they’re in good working order before you head in. This is especially true for afternoon trips. You might not need them when riding in, but you certainly will on the way out. It wouldn’t hurt to carry a spare either.
2) Have a back-up - Most folks don’t carry spare bulbs, but you should at least have a good flashlight, or two. It will get you back to the trail-head, camp or home, where you can then see, a proper replacement.
3) Accessorize - Consider accessory lights, especially if there’s a chance for inclement weather or adverse conditions. The wide beam of a flood light highlights the foreground and trail edges. A Spot light provides a focused beam for distance. The amber lens and lower position of fog lights help cut through ambient moisture, reduce glare and better illuminate the trail.
4) Slow Down - Forget about posted speed limits or advisories; those are for daylight hours. You need to go slower, much slower. You could encounter obstacles, pedestrians or wildlife, all of which will be much harder to pick out in the darkness, and could result in injury to you or them, as well as damage to your machine.
5) Double Up on Safety - You should always wear proper safety equipment including helmet and eye protection when riding, even in daylight. But it becomes even more important riding in the dark. Branches can seemingly come out of nowhere and flying objects are harder to pick out.
6) Be Prepared - You could get lost or break down resulting in an unexpected overnight stay in the woods. Carry at least a rudimentary safety kit containing all the necessary equipment to keep you comfortable, safe and possibly alive if you have to overnight.