Well, we are well into hunting season and it is a joy to meet and see people enjoying the opportunities and pleasures their National Forest offers.
We gave him a copy of the Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUP), which is free, and explained that he is welcome to camp anywhere on the National Forest. And this map will show him how far he can drive a motorized vehicle on signed FS Roads.
I pointed out to him that at the beginning of a FS road, he will see a plastic post with the road number on it and underneath the road number there is another number that tells the length of the road (example: road 2319 is 0.7 miles).
Using this road as an example, I explained to the man and his son that they can park their camper at the end of road 2319 and set up their hunting camp, as 0.7 miles in on this road was as far as this road legally goes and as far as he could drive a motorized vehicle.
We also talked about how he would need to take home any and all of his trash (leave no trace). That he was free to use any “dead and downed” wood for a campfire (but please remember that our fire danger is still high).
And, if they were fortunate enough to bag a deer, to please leave the gut pile in the woods where the coyotes and vultures would gladly clean it up for him. (Please don’t leave gut piles along the roadway).
As he left the office with his son, I thought how wonderful it is that this man can enjoy his hunting experience with his son and family. And this opportunity is free!
(Thomas Haines is district ranger for the Mark Twain National Forest, Salem Ranger District. He can be reached at 573-729-6656 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)