Know the rules if you use an ATV for hunting

Hunting seasons are now in full swing, and many of you have probably already headed to the field. But do you know the rules about hunting on state land or using your ATV?

For the most part, hunting and fishing is allowed on state lands, as long as there’s public access to them. In other words, you have to be able to get to them through a right-of-way, an easement, public waters, or adjacent public lands. Some state lands are locked in by private land, so they’re off limits unless you have permission from the landowner. The other exception is if they’re cultivated croplands. Even if they’re state trust land sections, if they’re growing crops, you can’t access them. If you can get to those state lands, keep in mind you can’t drive off the established roads, and camping is usually prohibited there.

There are a number of ways you can find out if a piece of land is state-owned. The BLM has color-coded maps, and the Game and Fish has a micro SD chip you can buy for several GPS units that tells you land ownership.

But state lands are only one of the big questions many hunters have each season. The other is about ATV use. Be sure to get an Off-road Recreational Vehicle permit, or ORV sticker, if you’re going to use your ATV on public lands, trails or roads. Most ATV dealers can get you an ORV sticker, or you can have one mailed to you if you call 307-777-6323. ORV permits are fifteen bucks.

Even with the ORV permit, you have to keep your ATV on existing roads or trails. Illegal off-road travel by all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and full-size vehicles damages vegetation and causes soil rutting. In addition to these impacts, ruts channel eroded materials into lakes, streams and wetlands, which can severely affect water quality and fish habitat.

Keep in mind, also, that ATVs are classified as vehicles, so the same laws that prohibit shooting from full-size vehicles applies to ATVs, too.

Know the rules so you don’t break ‘em by accident.