Know the rules for motorized travel
Hunters load a harvested animal onto a motor vehicle. Know the rules for motor vehicles on forest service roads and trails before hunting.
Photo courtesy of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game
| November 9, 2023 1:00 AM
With increasing use of motorized vehicles such as side-by-sides and ATVs by big game hunters, everyone, especially those using motorized vehicles, needs to be aware of the motorized hunting rule.
The rule applies when someone is actively hunting big game using a motorized vehicle. The rule is in effect from Aug. 30 through Dec. 31 of each year and applies only to the hunting of big game animals, including moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goat.
Between those dates and in the designated game management units, big game hunters may use motorized vehicles only on established roadways open to motorized traffic and capable of being traveled by full-sized automobiles. Hunters using a motorized vehicle may not go cross country, meaning off road when hunting big game.
The rule is specific to 30 hunting units, primarily in central and southern Idaho. For more information about specific hunt units see page 106 in the Big Game regulation booklet.
The motorized hunting rule does not apply when hunting upland game birds or upland game animals.
What is an established roadway?
The definition of an established roadway as it relates to this rule is that the road is established, built, maintained, approved or designated by a government entity and the road is capable of being traveled by a full-sized vehicle.
Can hunters use a motorized vehicle on Forest Service or Bureau Land Management designated trails?
If motorized travel is allowed by the Forest Service or BLM, you may use a motorized vehicle on trails to retrieve downed game or pack in/out your camping gear as long as you follow the restrictions in place by the landowner. However, you may not hunt while packing camping gear.
When in doubt, stay on the road!
It is the responsibility of the hunter to know and understand the rules and regulations of the area where they hunt. For vehicle travel, it’s especially important to know and follow the vehicle use restrictions for the area you are hunting. Travel maps are available from both the U.S Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.
For information about the motorized travel rule contact your local Fish and Game regional office.
Connor Liess is a public information specialist with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.