On the opening day of deer season 2010 I hiked up a sage and aspen filled canyon in southeast Idaho. I started hiking just before shooting light and was about a mile in by the time it was light enough to take a shot. I settled into a cluster of rocks overlooking a beaver pond and several large aspen pockets. Several groups of mule deer puttered across the canyon, getting their last sip of water and bite of grass before bedding down for the day.
About a half-hour after shooting light, the unmistakable racket of an ATV crawling up a steep trail echoed down the canyon. Although the ATV was over a mile away, the deer perked their ears at the sound and hustled into the nearest patch of dense cover. Several more riders began climbing the hill just minutes after the first.
The ATV riders continued roaring up and down the ridgeline as the sun slowly peeked over the horizon. I continued glassing the hillside for the next couple of hours with hardly a single sign of life. Tiring of the wait, I slung my rifle across my shoulder and continued up the canyon. At the head of the canyon I came across several hungover dimwits standing around several 4 wheelers on an old Jeep trail that had been closed to OHV travel for several years. They were huddled in a semi-circle complaining about the cold and concocting excuses for their lack of success that ranged from wolves, Californians, suburban encroachment and even liberals in general. Rather than the overwhelmingly obvious fact that they hadn't been successful because they were too lazy to get off their ATV and actually hunt.
ATVs are an incredibly useful tool for hunters. However, the increase in motorized sportsman that abuse the offroad capability of their ATVs has contributed to a negative public stereotype of hunting in general. In response, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (as well as fish and game departments in many other states) has increasingly implemented motorized travel restrictions during hunting season to combat the overwhelming influx of motorized hunters.
The majority of big bucks and bulls are harvested in areas that limit OHV travel. It's in our best interest as hunters to protect and preserve the our natural resources that provide us opportunities for hunting, fishing, and other recreation. Being a responsible OHV rider will help everyone have a more successful and enjoyable outdoor experience.
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