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On Elk and ATVs

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Archery season was a real hoot this year! As I write this there are three days left in the season and the majority of archers I have talked to had a really fun season whether they killed their elk or not. The bulls have been screaming and really active during daylight; however, they are less likely to come charging into a bugle or cow call. Have patience when calling, they are hanging up and a little more weary with the wolves around. I have seen some very nice bulls taken this year, but heck, every archery bull is a nice bull! Just a quick reminder that unless you have a controlled hunt tag, all of cow season is closed.

This time every year we get calls from the public with concerns about violations and people who aren’t following the rules. We could not do our jobs without public support so please take the time to make the call and report violations. You can always call the Citizens Against Poaching hotline at 800-632-5999, your local sheriff’s office, or your local conservation officer directly. You can remain anonymous.

Lately we have been receiving calls reporting ATVs on closed roads during the hunting season. To confirm those calls we have been seeing a number of ATV violations while out on patrol, some of them minor, some of them scary, and some just plain flagrant. Ask any Conservation Officer about the ATV accidents they have come upon, and you will understand why we enforce those laws. What really disturbs me are the adults who subject children to their stupid decisions on an ATV. I never have been a big fan of laws that protect you from yourself, but after seeing one too many ATV accidents involving children, I feel pretty strongly about these laws. If you want to damage yourself on an ATV so be it, but please don’t put your children in danger.

It’s very frustrating for IDFG officers when it comes to enforcing ATV laws; we as an agency are not involved in making laws nor are we paid to enforce them. Believe it or not, your local Sheriff’s office and the Forest Service are responsible for these enforcement efforts, but typically we are the most involved agency. 

With that being said, I will remind our riders of the laws that we will be enforcing. 

You need to have a valid driver’s license to operate an ATV and you must have a motorcycle endorsement to ride a motorcycle unless you are under 16 years of age—then you must complete an OHV safety course approved by Idaho Department of Parks & Rec and the under-aged rider must be accompanied by a licensed rider (must be within 300 feet of rider). The ATV or motorcycle must be licensed and display an OHV registration sticker from the owner’s state of residence. In addition, just like your car, you must have Proof of Liability on you. If you are a licensed rider under the age of 18 you must wear a helmet. During MAY 10—OCTOBER 20 you must have a shovel 24 inches long and 6 inches wide and a water container capable of holding 1 gallon of water (helmets qualify) with you at all times.

Also, check to make sure the road or trail you plan to ride on is open to motorized vehicles. It’s closed for a reason, whether you agree with it or not, so respect that closure. It puts a black eye on all those who ride when one group decides that the rules don’t apply to them. Police your own ranks, follow the rules, and ride with some common sense.

October 10 marks the opener for general weapon elk and deer, so be sure to pick up a copy of the regulations and read through the dates and laws. Another easy way to obtain the regulations is to visit our website at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov and click on the regulations tab and print the pages you need.

Also there has been some confusion on the waterfowl opener date. We are now in Zone 2 and the season doesn’t open unit October 13. Just another reason to get a copy of the regulations.

See you out there, have fun, and be safe. And be true sportsmen – protect for the future! Leave no child inside.

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Author info

Matt Haag Matt Haag is an Idaho Fish and Game Conservation Officer.

Tagged as:

elk, hunting, The Game Trail, roadless areas, ATV rules

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