Tread Lightly!’s Tips for Responsible Hunting with an OHV (ATV, UTV or Side-by-Side)
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Travel responsibly on designated roads, trails and areas.
- Travel only in areas open to off-highway vehicles (OHV).
- It is not acceptable to drive Utility Terrain Vehicles (UTVs) wider than 50 inches on most designated all-terrain vehicle (ATV) trails.
- Minimize wheel spin.
- On switchbacks, avoid roosting around the apex of the turn when climbing or brake-sliding during descent, both of which gouge the trail.
- Drive over, not around, obstacles to avoid widening the trail.
- Cross streams only at designated fording points or where the trail crosses the stream.
- Comply with all signs and respect barriers.
- When retrieving game, know local regulations; don’t travel cross-country on your OHV. Get as close as possible on a trail or road and then travel by foot to the site of your kill.
- Never ride with a loaded firearm. When traveling on the trail, keep your firearm secure in a protective case separate from the ammunition.
- Hunting solo can leave you vulnerable if you have an accident. Leave a hunting plan with family or friends including where you are hunting and what time you expect to be home.
- When winching, always inspect your equipment, use the right winch for the situation, find a good secure anchor and never winch with less than five wraps of wire rope around the drum.
- When using a tree as an anchor, use a wide tree strap to avoid damaging the trunk of the tree.
- Don’t mix hunting with alcohol or drugs.
RESPECT THE RIGHTS OF OTHERS
Respect the rights of others including private property owners, all recreational trail users, campers and others so they can enjoy their recreational activities undisturbed.
- Be considerate of others on the road or trail.
- Be a sportsman and practice ethical hunting.
- Never take a shot unless you see the animal clearly, you can identify it and you know what lies between you, the target and beyond.
- Don’t shoot across roads, trails, waterways or into caves.
- Property such as signs, kiosks and buildings are not targets.
- Don’t leave animal remains in wetland or riparian areas, on campgrounds, roads or trails.
- Leave gates as you find them.
- If crossing private property, be sure to ask permission from the landowner(s).
- Yield the right of way to those passing you or traveling uphill.
- Yield to mountain bikers, hikers and horses.
- Proceed with caution around horses and pack animals. Sudden, unfamiliar activity may spook animals, possibly causing injury to animals, handlers and others on the trail.
- When encountering horses on the trail, move to the side of the trail, stop, turn off your engine, remove your helmet and speak. You want the horse to know you are human. Ask the rider the best way to proceed.
- Do not idly ride around in camping, picnicking, trailhead and residential areas.
- Keep speeds low around crowds and in camping areas.
- Keep the noise and dust down.
Educate yourself prior to a trip by obtaining travel maps and regulations from public agencies, planning for your trip, taking recreation skills classes and knowing how to operate your equipment safely.
- Know the hunter education requirements for your area.
- Required or not, take a hunter education course.
- Obtain a map (motor vehicle use map where appropriate) of your destination and determine which areas are open to OHVs.
- Know the season dates and regulations for the type of hunting you plan to do.
- Make a realistic plan and stick to it. Always tell someone of your travel plans.
- Contact the land manager for area restrictions, closures and permit requirements.
- Check the weather forecast before you go.
- Prepare for the unexpected by packing a small backpack full of emergency items.
- Wear a helmet, eye protection and other safety gear.
- Dress in layers and carry a jacket.
- Know your state’s requirements regarding when to wear Hunter Orange.
- Know your limitations. Watch your time, your fuel and your energy.
- Take a class or the ATV RiderCourseSM that provides a fast-paced, half-day, hands-on training session. Call the ATV Enrollment Express toll-free at 1-800-887-2887 to enroll.
- Make sure your vehicle is mechanically up to task. Be prepared with tools, supplies, spares and a spill kit for trailside repairs.
AVOID SENSITIVE AREAS
Avoid sensitive areas such as meadows, lakeshores, wetlands and streams. Stay on designated routes.
- Other sensitive habitats to avoid, unless on designated routes, include cryptobiotic soils of the desert, tundra and seasonal nesting or breeding areas.
- It is damaging and unlawful to use a permanent tree stand, blinds or platforms as well as to place spikes, nails, wires or other metal objects into a tree to act as steps or to hold a tree stand on public lands.
- Minimize damaging or removing trees or other plants when putting up hunting structures or enlarging sight lines.
- Avoid “spooking” livestock and wildlife you encounter and keep your distance.
- Motorized and mechanized vehicles are not allowed in areas designated as Wilderness Areas.
- Do not disturb historical, archeological or paleontological sites.
DO YOUR PART
Do your part by modeling appropriate behavior, leaving the area better than you found it, properly disposing of waste, minimizing the use of fire, avoiding the spread of invasive species and restoring degraded areas.
- Carry a trash bag on your vehicle and pick up litter left by others.
- Pack out nails, ropes, wire, rifle/shotgun shells and other trash.
- Dismantle meat poles and other structures used while hunting.
- Remove flagging and biodegradable tape used for route finding.
- Provide information to wildlife managers to help manage game and determine wildlife inventories.
- Report any poaching incidents.
- Practice minimum impact camping by using established sites and camping 200 feet from water resources and trails.
- Observe proper sanitary waste disposal or pack your waste out.
- Protect the soundscape by preventing unnecessary noise created by a poorly tuned vehicle or revving your engine without need.
- Following a hunt, wash your OHV and support vehicle to reduce the spread of invasive species.
- Build a trail community. Get to know other types of recreationists that share your favorite trail.
Click here to get more tips for all kinds of outdoor recreation, including ATV riding, fishing, boating and others.
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