Firearms on ATVs must be unloaded and put in case

Firearms on ATVs must be unloaded and put in case South Dakota has many laws regarding the use of motor vehicles while hunting, and while some have been around for decades, others are quite new.

Game, Fish and Parks law officials say a new law states that anyone carrying a firearm on a motorcycle or an off-road vehicle, which includes three-wheelers, four-wheelers and any other kind of off-road vehicle, must have the firearm completely unloaded and in a case that completely encloses the entire firearm. The same requirement is made of snowmobile riders, but is found in a different statute.

"This law has been around for quite awhile, but it has changed its form in the past year," said Assistant Regional Law Supervisor Ken Shay of Pierre. "In the past, sportsmen who used three-wheelers and motorcycles for hunting were required to completely unload and encase their firearms.

This law was established before the arrival of four-wheelers, and when they did arrive, there were not any regulations or laws covering their use while hunting."

Shay noted there are exceptions which allow law enforcement officers to carry firearms on four-wheelers and snowmobiles. He added that there are also exceptions for landowners who are not hunting, but need a firearm.

"An example might be when they are protecting their livestock," he said. "Because of this, there are some provisions for people who are on their own land to carry an uncased firearm on an off-road vehicle. This exception does not exist for snowmobile use."

In a nutshell, sportsmen desiring a relaxing time in the outdoors or wanting to escape for a quiet hunt, can still use off-road vehicles to get to and from their hunting spot easily. However, when an ATV or snowmobile is used, all firearms must be unloaded and completely enclosed in gun cases.

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