Taking your UTV hunting? That’s a great way to make any trip a little easier and a little more comfortable. Plus, you won’t have to worry about carrying any kills by hand all the way back to your rig.
However, you’ll run up against some unique challenges, and of course regulations, when taking your UTV hunting. The U.S. Forest Service just updated its guidelines, right in time for hunting season.
For starters, make sure you know the vehicle use regulations for the state in which you’re hunting — you can contact the local Bureau of Land Management or Forest Service for help.
Trails in hunting areas are established for a reason. Stick to them, and make sure your trip doesn’t exacerbate habitat destruction. Even though others have wrongly created and used unauthorized trails, continuing to do so damages vegetation and causes soil erosion.
Whenever possible, access the trails before hunting hours, park, and then hunt on foot. That will help other hunters and give the wildlife enough time to resume their normal activities (a must if you want a successful hunt).
A Hunter’s Favorite Tool
The U.S. Forest Service recommends collecting your big game between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., which can help avoid overlapping with other hunters’ activities. When you do see others on a trail, slow down. If you come across riders on horseback, make sure you cut the engine entirely and remove your helmet to avoid spooking the horses. The riders will know the best way to proceed to keep everyone safe.
If it’s raining or the trails are wet, it’s best to avoid a UTV ride. Even though many UTVs are made for wet conditions, the combination of a UTV and water can worsen trail damage.
When you can, limit the use of UTVs around campgrounds and always make sure the machine is thoroughly examined before each hunting trip. Pay special attention to the muffler and exhaust. Any extra sounds can warn game that you’re en route and possibly ruin another hunter’s experience.
A Sporting Chance
Using UTVs while hunting has increased drastically in the past decade, according to the U.S. Forest Service. It’s helped many hunters, such as those with mobility issues, continue to enjoy hunting, but some issues are worth addressing.
Conflict with other hunters is the biggest, since UTVs have allowed much easier access to hunting areas that were otherwise lightly used. Excessively noisy UTVs, or using UTVs in areas where motorized machines are prohibited can scare away game and understandably annoy hunters who are abiding by the rules.
There’s also the problem with vegetation damage when trails aren’t kept to, and the question of “fair chase.” UTVs should be used to access areas and haul away game, not to chase animals. It’s dangerous and simply not a fair way to hunt. However, law-abiding and conscientious UTV operators are the majority and have seamlessly integrated into hunting. Before your next hunt, contact UTV Windshield and Accessories for all the bells and whistles you’ll need for a safe trip.