Planning your next hunting trip you check out the terrain of your chosen hunting grounds and you wonder how best to get there. The topo map makes it clear you cannot drive your truck close to any blinds. You can hike in; carrying your gear to the blind, or you can drive in using an All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV).
The obvious choice, an ATV, has pros and cons you should look at before taking one along for the hunt.
An ATV will get you to places your truck cannot.
Old logging roads and narrow forest trails that a truck cannot use become open roads for ATVs. Your ATV can even navigate small animal openings your truck cannot.
Those who love hunting but have a disability that limits their mobility can hunt again using an ATV. Many states allow hunters with disabilities to fire while seated on an ATV.
If you want to build a new blind or plan to stay a while, an ATV will carry more than a rider. With add-on cargo boxes, you can haul:
- Building materials
- Camping equipment
- Extra fuel
Using your ATV and a few accessories keeps your gear in place, clean, dry and accessible. One valuable accessory for an ATV is a cover. This will help protect your ATV from the elements when you are not using it. You will even find gun racks custom made for your ATV.
When you have to park your truck a half – mile or more from your blind, your ATV will handily take you the rest of the way.
If you forget something, you can make trips back to your truck without missing prime deer or elk migration times. Nothing can ruin a morning of hunting like hiking back to the truck for a forgotten sight or ammunition knowing an elk will soon pass your blind on his way for a morning drink.
Your ATV really shows-off its usefulness when hauling your harvested animal back to your truck or home base.
You can drag your animal back on the ground or use a pull-behind cart, but carrying it back to your truck with your ATV keeps it clear of mud, undergrowth and gravel.
With all pros, come some cons and hunting with an ATV proves no different.
The footprint left on the environment by ATVs and other off-road vehicles makes their use illegal in some places.
Always check to make sure you can legally use your ATV on the property or forest area you plan to hunt. Fines and license suspension can ruin this hunting season and many in the future.
The noise level
Campers complain the noise disturbs their peace and that ATVs speeding along roads threatens the safety of all. A few reckless riders have given ATVs a bad reputation and have caused the banning of their use for all in many areas.
When in populated camping areas or near others hunting, shut down your ATV and walk. In campgrounds, respect for others always comes first.
Some hunters fear the noise and exhaust smell keeps prey away. To quiet the noise of your ATV up to 50-percent, attach a secondary muffler. This can solve issues other hunters or campers have with the noise.
However, hunters also say the exhaust smell lingers along trails and blinds. The odor stops animals from using their regular trails, which takes them away from their sights.
Changing animal behaviors
Hunters have started taking their ATVs on trails and to their blinds during the off-seasons to acclimate animals to the noise and odors. Some park below tree blinds so animals get used to the sight, sounds and smells before hunting begins.
Covering the ATV with a camouflage tarp and using it for a blind has also become a normal hunting tactic.
Unfair chase laws
Some use the unfair chase laws states have adopted as a reason to ban ATV use while hunting. Again, a few hunters using unethical hunting practices have made it difficult for the rest to use ATVs in some areas.
You can lease your own hunting land and not worry about disturbing other hunters or campers.
When tracking game, hunters cannot use a vehicle to chase or trap animals. Hunters may not shoot an animal from a moving vehicle, like an ATV. Disabled hunters may shoot from an ATV in some states as long as it remains parked.
Use your ATV for ethical hunting and respect other people, as you would have them respect you.