Arizona Driving Tips
For Archery Hunters
Recent storms through the state have made most backcountry roads either slick or muddy, and archery hunters may want to consider the following tips before heading afield, advised the Arizona Game and Fish Department Off-Highway Program.

Muddy or snow-covered backcountry roads can be a challenge for hunters and other outdoorsmen.

"Damage to back roads occurs most often during wet weather. Each year more miles of roads are closed in the backcountry. Much of it due to the lack of money to repair and maintain damaged roads," advised Off-Highway Vehicle Program Coordinator Leo Drumm. Drumm added that hunters and other back road users can do their part to keep roads open by using a little common sense. Most dirt roads in the backcountry are not all-weather roads and should not be used when wet and muddy. "If the road is muddy and rutted, consider taking another route. Do not drive around muddy spots in the road. This only increases the width of the road and damages more habitat. Often the best way through a muddy spot in the road is to follow the tracks already there. Generally, that is the hardest area and has been packed down by other vehicles," Drumm advised. If you must drive on muddy roads keep your speed slow and constant. Spinning your tires will only make the vehicle sink in the mud and damage the road further. "If you have four-wheel-drive, turn your front tires slightly from side to side as you drive forward. This provides more traction by allowing the sidewalls of the tires to grip the sides of the ruts," Drumm said. Be prepared to back out if the vehicle becomes bogged down and you can no longer go forward. Back up at a steady pace, trying not to spin your tires. "Traveling off existing roads and trails is never a good idea, but during this time of year it can cause extensive habitat damage," Drumm said. Citations can be issued to people who damage roads or habitat. Fines can include the cost of repair of the road. Other tips for backcountry travel include the following:

• Check with the local land management agency on the status of roads before going afield;
• Always let someone know where you are going, and when you expect to return;
• If you have a cellular telephone, take it along. It is always a good idea to make periodic check-ins with someone back home;
• Be sure to carry warm clothing, food and water;
• Take along tire chains — they aren't just for snow, but for mud also.

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