As hunters age, do they support allowing ATVs in more places?

White River National Forest, Colorado offers new travel plan that would restrict ATVs-

In interesting question is, is ATV use a generational thing or is it related to aging? If Bob Elderkin (in the article below) is in the majority, it is a generational thing, with older forest users, including hunters, being less, not more favorable to them.

Fight brewing over new national forest travel plan in Colorado. By Dennis Webb. The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel






  1. Brian Ertz Avatar

    my father just purchased an ATV for hunting – for the first time – he used to swear off the idea, but he cannot cover the landscape he once did and he just retired and hates more the idea of not being able – i think the vehicle gives him a little respite.

    my brother, who is perfectly able to cover the landscape by foot – uses my father’s ATV to hunt. he has decked the ATV up with all sorts of accessories.

  2. Jay Avatar

    Put them all in a big pile and turn them into scrap metal to be recycled–what Americans need is more physical exercise, not less. We are the fattest, laziest nation on the planet.

  3. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    What about those of us, that can’t get around in the wild areas of America on foot, I would be glad to hike anywhere I go if I could, unfortunately a nice guy in Iraq ensured I would never be able to do that again, despite what others think there are more than a few of us that would not be able to experience anything wild without the help of an ATV.. I remember so vividly, when I was in Iraq in 1991, the first and foremost thought in my mind was I would not see the Rockies again! After I was shot, I figure I would only see them from the windshield of a car, fortunately, I can still experience the Rockies where legal from the seat of an ATV..

    ATV’s have there place, and they help a lot of disabled American’s see something they might never experience, don’t be so quick to dismiss them..

  4. Jay Avatar

    That’s fine, you’re the exception to the rule. I’m just throwing out numbers, but I’d bet 97 out of 100 ATV users don’t have any physical empairment beyond being fat and lazy that necessitates the use of motorized “legs” (e.g., using ATV’s to ride the 50 yards to a campground toilet).

    That truly sucks about your injury–I would be lost without my mobility.

  5. JB Avatar

    Save Bears:

    I’m not opposed to ATVs for people with disabilities; however, they are not the only alternative. Horses can get you into the back country without all the noise and stink (well, I suppose they have their own smell).

    Also, I think ATV manufacturers should be required to meet strict standards for air and sound pollution–i.e. I would like to see a quiet, electric ATV made/required for back country use. If your purpose is hunting or sightseeing, you certainly don’t need a vehicle that can go 80 mph at 100+ db. In fact, a slow, quiet, and gasoline free vehicle should be an advantage for hunters.

  6. Tom Page Avatar
    Tom Page

    The battle over the WRNF travel plan has been going on since about 1996…no kidding, I remember going to meetings that long ago. Parts of the forest are overrun with vehicles, while other parts have escaped reasonably well. Interesting theory about ATV’s contributing to game overpopulation…there are unbelievable numbers of elk in that country and as a hunter who wandered the Eagle County portion for many years, I was always amazed by the people who failed to see elk – even during the rifle season. I heard from many Gypsum-Glenwood Springs area ranchers that elk kept showing up on the private ground earlier in the year as archery pressure on the forest from ATV hunters put so many people on public ground the elk could not find security except behind the fenceline. My personal experience drove me to the roughest trailless country I could find – anywhere accessible was a sea of orange or camo, and void of game most of the time.

    Personally, I think the problem lies with CDOW – they issue unlimited bull tags for just about the whole forest, while thousands of aging cow elk go unmolested every year (I know someone is going to reply “the wolves would eat those elk if they were reintroduced into the state…”). CDOW is extremely reluctant to shoot cow elk, because they have realized through the last twenty years of this elk explosion that guys will come from all over the country to spend big $$ on a non-resident bull tag, but they won’t come to shoot a cow. Thus, we’ve seen a management strategy designed to put the maximum numbers of targets on the ground….age/sex ratios, other species and habitat damage be damned.

  7. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    I have no problem with quieter ATV’s at all, I would also be interested in an electric ATV, it would be great if someone could come up with a hybrid! Just because I like to use my ATV to access areas I wouldn’t otherwise be able to see, means I am in favor of what some of the riders do, as with any segment of society, there are those that do the right thing and there are those who don’t.

    As I have said in ATV threads before, the groups I ride with, do it within the law, and turn in those who don’t. Also, I have no desire to go 80 mph on a ATV!!

  8. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I think the growing numbers of ATVs during hunting season is one reason, certainly not the only reason, why there is a perception that wolves and/or other carnivores have killed all the elk and deer.

    The elk and deer hear the sudden influx and avoid the dirt roads and trails.

  9. Debra K Avatar
    Debra K

    Somehow Americans got around the west for thousands of years on foot and horse before ATVs arrived a couple decades ago. Most riders of ATVs I see are young, fat yahoos out racing around for thrills. Most are not going to want depowered, quiet vehicles.

    It was a blessing when gas was $4.30 gal last year, we had peace and quiet in our backcountry. While we may have a respite from expensive gas for a while, read the essay “The Rise and Fall of Lumpenleisure” in Wuerthner’s Thillcraft book if you want to see the future prospects of ORVs (not bright).

  10. jdubya Avatar

    Wait another 12-18 months and you will get your wish. Great interview on NPR the other morning…

    about how the price of oil (which will explode again after this recession recedes) will drive down globalization, increase local industry, and push for greater density in the cities. I am going to buy his book.

  11. mikepost Avatar

    Ralph, I think you are right on regarding the perception of game losses. ATV’s, dirt bikes, and even large groups of mountain bikers which use the public land on a consistent basis do drive large mammal populations out of their historicly preferred locations. You have to hike into roadless areas to find the same densities. The USFS is doing some great research on this at the Stuckey site in Oregon regarding the impacts of hunter density and travel on elk behavior.

  12. Linda Hunter Avatar

    What is on the market right now in the way of ATV’s is sick and wrong. . they are marketed to be macho -go fast -tear em up -rip em up -get er done flashy pieces of dog doo with a big price tag. The real need for an ATV is diabled and older people who still want to enjoy the wilderness. .the rest of them need to walk, put the plastic card back in their pockets, and get their heads straight. Horses and personal power vehicles work in most places as well. In a market driven society the only way we can get this changed is for the demand to shift to quiet, reasonable, energy efficient vehicles made for trails and quiet enjoyment. How do we do that?

  13. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    Good luck, the last ATV I purchased with those things in mind was very difficult to find, they sell excitement, not quiet forays into the woods to observe and there are groups around that use ATV’s that don’t focus on the aspect you bring up, but unfortunately they are few and far between. The Tread Lightly campaign in this country seems to be failing..

  14. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Well then, folks seem to be saying hunters (and others) don’t necessarily demand ATVs as they age.

    It’s kind of a generational thing, and we have part of a generation who won’t walk, bike, or ride a horse in the backcountry. They will only ride powered machines.

    As a result, they tear up the place and don’t learn any outdoor skills except riding.

  15. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    I really don’t think because we age, it is a requirement to have an AT, I know a lot of older hunters that still get out and “Hoof” it, but there are a select part of the population that the ATV does make life a bit easier to get to those areas we enjoy..I am not an advocate for the we sell excitement crowd..but do enjoy using my ATV to get into areas I can’t walk into any longer. Now others have brought up horses, not a comfortable proposition. In addition it takes more commitment to care for a living animal, if my ATV dies, I can rebuild it, If I had a horse and it died, I would bury it, besides I am not a big fan of beasts of burden…I have never been a fan of seeing horses out in the pasture when it is -20 and the wind blowing..Horses are a good option for those who are willing to commit a 24/7 care routine for them, I simply don’t have the time to do that…

  16. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    Also I will add, there are many places in this country, that ATV’s simply don’t belong and should never be allowed..

  17. Mike Avatar

    ATV’s do have their place. Unfortunately many ATVers’s do not follow the law, and instead look at it as an extreme sport. To them, staying on trail is “for kids”. Because of this, their presence is not welcome in many areas of public land.

  18. cobra Avatar

    I’ve lost two of my best elk hunting areas to atvs. They’ve actually cut trails so they could ride right into the best elk country and wallows that I had hunted successfully for the last 20 years. I own an atv and only used it to pack out game never once having to cut brush or trees. If and when we get to an area we can’t get through without cutting trail or tearing things up we pull out the pack frames and back pack to that point. If you ride carefully it is hard to even see where you’ve been. My machine is only a 300 and is pretty small compared to the jeep size machines that most have. I did happen to meet the guys that cut trails into the country I used to hunt and they where both half my age. We never wanted to cut any trails into the areas we hunt because it would make it to easy for others to find our honey holes that we spent a lot of time figuring out. Seems like anymore if theres a walking trial or even a good game trail eventually someone will ride on it and then everyone else does too.

  19. mikepost Avatar

    All these arguments apply to snowmobiles as well.

  20. Jeff Avatar

    I would advocate an end to all motorized recreation including NASCAR, but I’m afraid I won’t get many votes, including my own family…sorry dad! In all seriousness pollution, erosion, habitat fragmentation, obesity, and lack of physical fitness are all tied together on this issue. At the same time I’ll be 39 this summer and I know hunting elk alone on foot can’t last forever, so before I get elected and ban all motorize recreation I’m going to buy an ATV and put in in the shed for my gray haired hunting days.

  21. Ryan Avatar

    ATV’s are a tool like anything else. I use mine to cover long distances on in the Desert when Hunting (I still always hike the last mile or 2) Too many flats on my truck over the years was just too frustrating to deal with. I also use them in cam to get to hunting areas (much more fuel efficient than my truck). I tend to hunt road closure areas, and when I find a quad parked in them, there is always a little vigilante justice enforced on the offender. Then a quick call to the sherrif or OSP.

  22. Peter Wolf Avatar

    thats just crazy… thx god iam in germany, anyway its bit complicated here to drive offroad legaly


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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