People Make Impacts

Everything we choose to do or not do makes an impact to our environment.  Some of the impacts are positive and some of them are not so good.

When we use to use an off-highway vehicle as part of our hunt, it has impacts, just like everything else.  The goal is to understand the impacts, mitigate the negative impacts as much as possible, and enhance the positive impacts.

 

Front and back of Montana Hunting and OHV brochure

Issues Using OHVs As Part of the Hunt

The use of OHVs during hunting season has increased dramatically.  While OHVs have made access to some backcountry areas and big game retrieval easier for some hunters, the increased use has created new challenges.

Fair Chase: While using an OHV to get to a hunting location and for big game retrieval can be a great asset, OHVs should not be used as part of the hunt.  Hunting from an OHV is contrary to the ethical hunting standard of Fair Chase.  It also diminishes the reputations of both hunters and OHV recreationists.

User Conflict:
The fall is a great time to be out in the woods.  This is true for hunters and other recreationists.  Hunters using their OHVs should always be considerate of other recreationists, including those hunters who prefer to hunt on foot rather than use an OHV.  Always be courteous and respectful to other trail users.

Sound: While many animals adapt to the sound of OHVs, it still may cause them to change their location.  When this occurs when another hunter is lining up a shot, it can cause hard feelings.  Usie an OHV only during 'off-peak' times during the hunt, such as prior to dawn, after dusk, or during the afternoon.

Off-Trail Use: In many states, off-trail travel is illegal regardless of whether or not a person is using the OHV for big game retrieval.  In other states, off-trail travel can be used for game retrieval.  Keeping your OHV on the trail helps decrease any possible negative impacts, even if it legal to take it off-trail.  Keeping an OHV out of wet area, using the throttle judiciously, and traveling with an even speed can help keep our trails and our environment health, both on and off the trails.

Closed Areas:  Many states have areas which are closed to OHVs, even during the hunting season.  Keeping your OHVs out of these areas allows us to continue to have the privilege to use our OHVs for both hunting and recreation,  Illegal travel often leads to more regulations and restrictions.

Reducing Potential Negative Impacts

Mitigation of any negative impacts is always the best choice, whether hunting on foot or when using an OHV.  Here are some tips for OHV mitigation during the hunt.
  • Know the vehicle use regulations in the area you intent to hunt.  Contact all public land managment agencies and any private parties.  Know before you go; find out before you head out. 
  • Access your hunting area before or after shooting hours.  Get to your location early and hunt on foot from their.  Wait until shooting hours end before leaving your location on your OHV.
  • Stay on legal roads or trails.  Even if cross-country travel is allowed, it is more environmentally sustainable to stay on the legal routes.  The routes have been created to withstand motorized use.
  • Retrieve harvested big game from the nearest desingated road or trail when required or when possible.  Retrieving during the middle of the day or after shooting hours is always the best policy.
  • Avoid wet areas.  Whether the wet area is on or off the trail, staying on dry ground helps keep the trails in place longer and helps areas without trails keep from being impacted negatively.
  • Respect other hunters and recreationists. Slow down or stop your OHV when you approach others on the trail, or drive near a hunting location.  When meeting equestrians, approach slowly, pull over and stop, stop your engine, remove your helmet, and ask how to proceed.  Horses have their own personality.  Always yield to them, following the guidance given by the rider.  Pass all recreationists in a safe and courteous manner.
  • Reduce emissions and sound.  Keep your OHV properly tuned and muffled.
  • Limit OHV use in or near campgrounds.  Other people may be sleeping as you are leaving during predawn hours.  Respect others desires for quiet and minimal disruption.
  • People with disabilities use OHV to hunt and recreate.  Keep in mind, that an OHV is sometimes more than just a handy tool.  People with disabilities often require OHVs to access hunting areas.  Don't jump to any conclusions if you see an OHV.  Be courteous to everyone.  Better yet, invite a person with disabilities to hunt with you.

These are all simple actions, but they can go a long way toward reducing any potential negative impacts from OHVs.  They can also help keep areas open for both hunters and OHV riders.