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The Proper Use Of ATVs In The Hunt


Fri Oct 28 00:00:00 MDT 2005

Many hunters who own ATVs enjoy using their machines to get to the hunt. But for hunters who are stalking an animal, an ATV is the last thing they want to see. 

"We know from other states that ATVs used in hunting can create conflicts. In Montana, with more land base and fewer people, we can take steps now to head off some of the contentious situations other, more populated states, are running into," said Bob Walker, FWP's trails program coordinator.

Walker said conflicts increase as more and more people are involved in a sport.  Increasingly hunters use ATVs for access into backcountry areas that once saw only walk-in hunters and hunters packing with or riding stock.

"We are at a place in our state where ATV users can set their own high standards and ensure that abuses and conflicts don’t occur. That’s in their favor, because conflicts usually lead to more regulations," Walker said.

Walker said that hunters who plan to use an ATV in the hunt should use it to get to the hunting area before shooting hours. 

Walker also suggested these guidelines for hunters with ATVs.

* Know the vehicle use regulations where you are hunting by contacting the land-management agency responsible for the area.  Off-trail use on most Montana public lands is illegal, even for game retrieval.

* It is illegal to hunt from any motorized vehicle, including ATV's. This is one of the most common hunting violations. The only exemption is for disabled hunters who may apply for a permit to hunt from a vehicle.

* It is also illegal to use ATVs to concentrate, drive, rally, stir-up, corral or harass wildlife.

* Retrieve harvested big game only from the nearest legal road or trail open to ATVs during the middle of the day to reduce conflicts with other hunters.

* ATVs and motorcycles used off-road on public land trails must be registered as an Off-Highway Vehicle and display a decal.  For non-residents, Montana honors OHV registrations in other states and offers a temporary non-resident OHV permit for those machines not registered in another state.

* If you plan to ride on public roadways, including U.S. Forest Service roads, your ATV must be registered as a motor vehicle.  The only exceptions are those U.S. Forest Service roads specifically designated for use by OHVs.  In those cases, the OHV must display an OHV registration decal.

* Operators less than 16 years of age, but at least 12 years of age, who wish to travel U.S. Forest Service roads must show proof of having passed an OHV safety education course and must be accompanied by a person who possesses a driver’s license.

For more information about safety education, visit FWP's OHV Education web page.