Yamaha Outdoors Tips — Go the Extra Mile
By Bob Humphrey
There’s no question, ATVs can be an invaluable hunting tool when used responsibly. Riding is a lot easier than walking. ATVs allow you to access terrain that would turn back other vehicles or hunters afoot and carrying game out on an ATV is easier than carrying it out on foot.
However, ATVs are not universally loved among outdoorsmen. Because they offer more convenience, they can increase hunting pressure in certain areas. The noise and smell of an ATV can alert game, reducing not only your chances of encountering animals, but those of other hunters, possibly creating hard feelings. Research has clearly demonstrated that elk use declines in areas adjacent to roads, and slow moving vehicles on primitive roads and trails are more disturbing to elk than fast moving vehicles on a highway. The same is likely true of other species like deer and antelope, to name a few. And unfortunately, not everyone follows the rules.
Some riders may create their own roads and trails in areas that were previously roadless. In addition to increasing traffic and disturbance, it could destroy vegetation and soils.
If you use ATVs in any aspect of your hunt, and want to retain that privilege, there’s much you can do. That includes not only following the regulations, but recognizing the impacts your activity can cause, and taking additional voluntary steps to reduce those impacts. What follows are a few examples of how you can reduce the impact of ATVs during hunting season.
1. First and foremost, know and follow regulations for the areas you hunt.
2. Stay on existing roads. Don’t create new paths that others may follow and don’t follow “outlaw” trails.
3. Seek alternate routes if existing, legitimate ATV routes are poorly placed such that they may cause or perpetuate habitat damage or represent a potential hazard.
4. Don’t hunt from your ATV. Unless you are physically impaired, use your ATV only to reach access points and haul out game.
5. When recovering game, try to choose a time that will cause the least disturbance to other hunters (11am to 2pm)
6. Respect others. Slow down or stop when you approach others using the same area, whether they’re on ATVs, on foot or especially if they’re on horseback.
7. Be on the lookout for problems, whether they be excessive erosion on a marked trail, or possible illegal activities. Never interfere, but take note of the facts and report them to the proper authorities as soon as possible.