The popularity of recreational motor vehicles has skyrocketed in recent years. Off-road vehicles, all-terrain vehicles and off-highway motorcycles are common equipment for many hunters.
Recreational motor vehicles can either be a useful tool, or they can ruin the hunting experience and damage natural resources.
An RMV is any motorized, wheeled or tracked vehicle designated for use off of public highways. Most hunters use them to reach their hunting spots or to haul game from the woods. RMVs have given hunters access to places that previously were inaccessible. But overuse and inappropriate use can negatively affect public lands, gamebirds and animals and the overall hunting experience.
Hunters who will use an RMV this fall must know the regulations governing their use. It's illegal for hunters to carry a firearm on any recreational motor vehicle unless it is unloaded and completely enclosed in a case. Bows must be unstrung or enclosed in a case. Deer hunters may operate ATVs and snowmobiles before legal shooting time (one half hour before sunrise), from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and after legal shooting hours (one half hour after sunset).
In most instances, RMVs must be registered with the DNR. An individual must be at least 18 to register a recreational motor vehicle. Registration is valid for up to three years. Anyone who sells a recreational motor vehicle must provide a bill of sale to the buyer.
It's illegal to use a motor vehicle, motorcycle, all terrain vehicle or snowmobile to chase, run over or kill wildlife. Permits to shoot from a standing recreational motor vehicle are available to licensed hunters with permanent physical disabilities more substantial than discomfort from walking.
Being a responsible RMV user goes further than just following the laws, however. There's an edict to RMV use that all hunters should follow.
"Keep in mind that your actions should minimize or completely alleviate the impact of RMVs on other hunters," said Capt. Jeff Thielen, DNR enforcement education program coordinator. "In most cases it comes down to using common sense."
Thielen said riders should follow simple guidelines to minimize the effect of RMVs on sensitive areas:
-- Know the RMV regulations for the area in which you are hunting.
-- Stay on designated trails and roads.
-- Be courteous and pull to the trailside and shut off the engine when horses pass so they won't be spooked.
-- Wear blaze orange, a helmet and other safety gear while riding an ATV or OHM.
-- Properly tag deer, elk, moose or bear before using an RMV to remove the animal from the site of a kill.
-- Don't trespass on posted lands. Always ask first.
-- Don't scout for or track game from an OHV.
-- Don't scare game when someone else is stalking or is on a stand.
-- Don't take shortcuts or create new trails.
-- Don't disturb livestock.
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