Elk archery season is wrapping up throughout the Western mountain states and the rise of ATV’s coming into the states will be increasing over the next couple of months and then the snowmobiles will be brought in to help bring the rifle hunters onto public lands and help hunters get to where the game is.  As well, Fall and Winter are amazing times for ATV riders and especially snowmobiles taking people amazing winter wonderlands.

When I worked as a guide the week before rifle season and the first two weeks of rifle season we would see a massive increase in the use of ATV’s and in fact at times we used them as well as a part of our operation. I personally would use them to get to a jumping off point and then hike into locations that would put us way out on points that any amount of road traffic would push elk and deer past our location. So I am certainly not going to ever badmouth the use of ATV’s and snowmobiles as effective tools in the arsenal of hunters.  As I get older, I am quite sure I will be using them more and more to get to locations where I do not have access to horses or I need to cover a whole lot of ground like the desert terrain in Arizona or Nevada.

Ride OnI do however want to take this time to remind riders and especially hunters that we all must work together to protect our rights to use public lands to pursue our passions of hunting, riding and snowmobiling.  How we do that is by following the rules of the road.  It is up to us as hunters to project a positive image out there among the public whether they are hunters or non-hunters.  Tread Lightly has come up with a campaign to remind ATV riders to stay on trails and as hunter’s we need to work together to spread the word.

All state’s have laws on the books about the use of snowmobiles as well as ATV’s and if your bringing them in to use from out of state, it is your responsibility to check the regulations of the state where you are riding.  Some states require you to take a course for riding an ATV and Some states have a snowmobile course you can take as well.

Below are the best codes of ethics I could find for snowmobiling and ATV riding, please take a moment and read through them and remember that riding on public and private lands is a privilege.  Happy Riding and Good Hunting – Kevin

ATV Code of Ethics:

1.   I will be a good sportsperson. I recognize that many people will judge all ATV owners by my actions. I will use my influence with other ATV owners to promote responsible conduct.

2.   I will maintain clean trails and use areas. I will work to safeguard clean and pure streams and lakes. I will ensure my ATV use has the lowest possible impact on the environment. I will safeguard living trees, shrubs, and other natural features. I will not Litter and I will pack out what I bring in.

3.   I will respect other people’s property and rights.

4.   I will lend a helping hand when I see someone in distress.

5.   I will make my vehicle and myself available to assist in emergency situations.

6.   I will recognize the rights of other user groups.

7.   I will energetically strive to bring other recreation participants to recognize and respect my rights as an ATVer by explaining my needs and, at the same time, listening to their needs.

8.   I will learn and obey all federal, provincial, and municipal rules regulating the operation of ATVs in areas where I use my vehicle. I will inform public officials, as required, when using public lands.

9.   I will not harass wildlife, and will become aware of protected or sensitive areas.

10.   I will use marked trails, and areas open to ATV’s. I will not travel where prohibited.

Snowmobilers’ code of ethics

  1. I will be a good sports enthusiast. I recognize that people judge all snowmobile owners by my actions. I will use my influence with other snowmobile owners to promote fair conduct.
  2. I will not litter on trails or camping areas. I will not pollute lakes or streams.
  3. I will not damage living trees, shrubs, or other natural features. I will go out only when there is sufficient snow so that I will not damage the land.
  4. I will respect other people’s property and rights.
  5. I will lend a helping hand when I see someone in distress.
  6. I will make myself and my vehicle available to assist search and rescue parties.
  7. I will not interfere with or harass hikers, skiers, snowshoers, ice anglers, or other winter sports enthusiasts. I will respect their rights to enjoy our recreation facilities.
  8. I will know and obey all federal, state/provincial and local rules regulating the operation of snowmobiles in areas where I use my vehicle. I will inform officials when using public lands.
  9. I will not harass wildlife. I will avoid areas posted for the protection or feeding of wildlife.
  10. I will stay on marked trails or marked roads open to snowmobiles. I will not snowmobile where prohibited.

Source: Minnesota DNR Snowmobile Safety Training Manual