Hunting ethics provides better experience
Many hunters use all terrain vehicles (ATVs), commonly known as four wheelers, while hunting. The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) is reminding those hunters to stick to existing roads and use ATVs ethically.
“Keep ATVs on existing roads and be sure to respect the rights of other hunters, such as those who are hunting on foot or from horseback,” said Frank Chaves, NDOW supervising game warden. “I’ve received numerous complaints from hunters who have said that they have been quietly stalking game and the animal has been driven away by a hunter who drove an ATV through the area that they were hunting.”
Besides frightening game, improper off-road vehicle use poses a real threat to wildlife habitats. Such practices can cause the development of new trails, fragmentation of existing habitat, loss of security cover and roads and cause substantial harm to rangelands that are critical for wildlife and livestock.
“When in the field, avoid any practice that can be seen as unethical or destructive to the environment,” Chaves said. “We, as hunters, always need to demonstrate that we are true conservationists and that we value wildlife and wildlife habitats. Our actions in the field will reflect not only upon us but on all hunters.”
Wildlife managers have noted that vehicle tire tracks blazed by an inconsiderate off-road driver are an invitation for other vehicles to follow that same route. The cumulative effect results in habitat being lost as a trail is created. It may also result in a hunter giving away a favorite hunting location to others.
“It is not considered ‘fair pursuit’ to drive off of established roads to chase down deer or game birds,” Mike Cox, staff wildlife biologist said, “and in most cases it is also illegal. It’s fine to depend upon these vehicles, but hunters always need to be responsible and respectful of game and other hunters.”
Some sportsmens groups and others have been looking into further regulation limiting hunting use of ATVs in some areas. There is a lot of debate from ATV users, hikers and hunters on various sides of this issue.
“There are some compelling reasons for owning ATVs, such as easier access to mountain roads and hauling harvested game,” said Chaves. “Even though eventually, ATV users could see some new rules and regulations in place, the best possible solution is to use these machines responsibly now.”
Hunting Near Waterholes
Nevada is the driest state in the country. As such, water is scarce and what is available is in great demand by both man and wildlife. Hunters know this, and often concentrate their efforts on waterholes in hopes of catching wildlife on their way in to drink. While it’s permissible to hunt in this manner, legal and ethical dilemmas can often crop up for hunters hunting waterholes on public lands.
Legally, there are a few things for hunters to keep in mind when it comes to waterholes. Nevada has one law written specifically on the subject, state law states simply that “It is unlawful for any person to camp within 100 yards of a waterhole in such a manner that wildlife or domestic stock will be denied access to such a waterhole.”
Another set of legal problems can arise when more than one hunter wants to hunt the same area. They are called threat, intimidation, disorderly conduct and assault citations or arrests that are a result of hunter confrontations that aren’t settled peacefully.
Here are some things to keep in mind when planning to hunt around a waterhole on public lands:
Waterholes on public lands belong to everyone and all hunters are entitled to free and equal access.
Hunters should respect each other’s rights and privileges. They should leave the area if another hunter gets to the waterhole first.
No reservations exist on public lands. Exclusive hunting rights do not belong to any hunter, regardless of whether that hunter built the blind or hung the tree stand.
Posting a sign or note at a waterhole or on a blind or tree stand does not give anyone the exclusive right to hunt there; the hunter must be present.
Thoughtful hunters will also consider the following when it comes to building blinds or hanging tree stands on public lands:
It may be unlawful to cut any trees or branches while hanging tree stands or building blinds.
It may be unlawful to leave stands or blinds in place for extended periods of time.
Construction of permanent stands or blinds is unlawful without appropriate authorization.
It may be unlawful to pound climbing spikes, nails or attach anything that penetrates the surface of a tree causing permanent injury or scarring.
Hunters are advised to always check with the appropriate land management agency regarding the use and/or restrictions of tree stands and blinds.
Common courtesy goes a long way and should always be used when more than one person wants to hunt the same area. Remember, responsible, ethical hunters work together to resolve differences and in turn, enhance the image of hunting.
Leave No Trace
By recreating responsibly, we can ensure our favorite places remain unspoiled for ourselves and for others in the future. Learn more about the principles of “Leave No Trace” which include the following:
Plan Ahead and Prepare
Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
Pack it in, Pack it Out
Properly Dispose What you Can’t Pack Out
Leave What You Find
Minimize Use and Impact of Fire