Be Safe Riding Your Quad During ATV Hunting Season

It seems as though every fall we read outrageous headlines in the news about hunting accidents.  You know the kinds I’m talking about; “Man Mistakes Mother-in-Law for a Squirrel and Shoots her to Death” or “Cops Find Hunter Dressed Like a Mountain Goat.”  As crazy as these kinds of stories sound to reasonable people like you and me, they really do happen quite regularly.  As ATV riders, we need to face the facts and realize that there are a lot of dangerous people out in the wilderness and we need to take precautions.

My Worst ATV Hunting Experience

A few years ago my brother-in-law and I decided to head into the mountains during deer season and try our luck.  We already had hunting licenses, so we loaded up our gear and got our ATV all terrain tires rolling along a stretch of switchbacks that climbed the mountain just behind my house.  It was a perfect October day; one that was made for hunting deer.

After an hour of riding, our four wheeler tires rolled to a stop beneath some quaking aspen where we parked and headed into the hills on foot.  Fifteen minutes later, we sat on a ridge scoping out the area for big game.  That’s when we noticed other hunters scoping us out.  They were looking at us with their rifle scopes.  Umm, hey, fellas, if you look at me through your scope that means you’re aiming your freakin’ gun right at me.  Don’t do that, ok?

Vigfus Asbjornsson (via Flickr)

This may have been one of those guys.

As if that weren’t dangerous enough, less than an hour later they had descended to the bottom of the hill that we were atop when they scared up a deer.  They began shooting.  That’s when I heard a loud buzzing noise zip past my head and smack into a tree a few feet behind me.  Then another, and another.  Needless to say we hit the ground and fired a couple of we-are-right-here-stop-shooting-you-crazy-fools warning shots into the air.  I’ll never forget that feeling I had when those bullets whizzed past us.

How To Avoid Being Mistaken for a Woodland Creature While Hunting

Nobody should have to go through a scare like the one I had.  Neither should they be accidentally shot because someone thought they were a moose.  Here are a few tips to make it home alive.

Wear brightly colored clothing
Most hunters wear blaze orange and that’s a good thing.  If you bundle yourself in camouflage, you’re just asking for trouble.  When riding your four wheeler, make sure your ATV helmet is a vivid, brilliant color.  Sometimes hunters only see your head bobbing along through the trees.

Make noise
I know, I know.  Hunters are supposed to be quiet and stealthy and all that.  Would you rather be shot?

Flash your friends
No, not like during Mardi Gras.  Seriously, how would you explain all the bead necklaces to your wife?  Simply carry a signal mirror and when you see another hunter, flash them and wave vigorously when you get their attention so they’ll know you are in the area.

Carry radios
Almost any department store carries FRS (Family Radio Service) radios that transmit up to several miles.  Stay in touch with other hunters.

Alcohol and hunting don’t mix
Admittedly, you can’t control what other nimrods in the backcountry will do, but for Pete’s sake, don’t drink while hunting or riding at ATV.  It’s just plain dumb.  If you pull up next to a truck with a bunch of empty beer cans in the back, fire up your machine and let your Kenda ATV tires carry you far away.

Each year a few hunters don’t make it back in an upright position.  My heart goes out to their families for the losses they suffer.  Nearly all of these tragedies can be avoided if everyone acts responsibly and does their part to be safe.  Whether you ride an ATV or a pick-up truck, your safety is your responsibility.

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