The number of all-terrain vehicles used during hunting season has been increasing steadily during the past five years. Although the vehicles can be useful tools to aid a hunt, many hunters are using them improperly and causing a variety of problems.
Cary Carron, a district wildlife manager in Bayfield, explained that hunters must get off their ATVs if they expect to see any big game animals.
"There are some hunters who drive around on ATVs all day and then they complain that they're not seeing any animals," Carron said.
The constant drone of ATVs also causes problems for other hunters. ATVs are noisy and cause animals to move deep into inaccessible territory. The noise of one ATV can cause problems for many hunters.
"There is getting to be a real backlash against ATVs from people who actually get out there and hunt the way they're supposed to," Carron said.
Big game hunters who wish to be successful must walk slowly and quietly into the terrain where deer and elk live. It is unlikely during hunting season that a hunter will see a big game animal from the road. And if an animal is spotted, a hunter wouldn't have time to get off the vehicle, take a rifle or bow out of its case, load the weapon and move off the road to take a shot
Besides disturbing animals and other hunters, ATVs used improperly also cause resource damage. Many people are driving ATVs off of established roads and trails. That action destroys vegetation, compacts soil, and can lead to stream and water-quality degradation.
Hunters using ATVs must be aware of these rules and guidelines:
- Rifles and bows carried on ATVs must be unloaded and secured in a case.
- ATVs cannot be used as a rifle-rest when hunting.
- All vehicles used on public lands and roads must be registered and licensed in your home state or in Colorado. If your home state does not require registration, you must buy a temporary registration to use the vehicle in Colorado.
- In most locations, ATVs cannot be driven off roads. Consult the travel management plan in the national forest or for the BLM district in which you are hunting. If you are not hunting on federal lands, contact the appropriate land management agency for the regulations.
- ATVs cannot be driven into designated wilderness areas.
- Don't trespass onto private roads.
- Be considerate of other hunters. Drive slowly to reduce noise; only drive to the areas where you will begin walking to hunt; don't hunt from the road.