This is not a story concerning when, where and how ATVs should or shouldn't be operated on public lands. ATVs are capable of environmental destruction when misused, but they can also be effective tools for private land management for wildlife.

Let's look at how an ATV, when combined with various implements, can be used to create and enhance deer and other wildlife habitat and food plots.

Years ago I purchased 70 acres of land in central Minnesota. Since that time I have carried out many habitat projects: planting food plots for deer and other wildlife, harvesting select trees from my forest, and planting thousands of more desirable trees and shrubs. To complete those projects, I used an ATV and some of the many attachments that are available.

You might be wondering why someone would use an ATV for habitat work when a farm tractor, with its greater power and larger implements, would work better.

First, a lot of landowners already own ATVs. With the addition of a few implements, their machines become tools for both work and play. In my case, I purchased an ATV specifically for habitat work because I had initiated many projects in remote corners of my property. It would difficult or impossible to access these lands with a tractor. But I've found that my ATV is highly maneuverable even when equipped with a three-point hitch and various farm implements. This makes it easy to perform necessary tasks such as shaping and contouring food plots to match the lay of the land. And if I get stuck, I simply extract the machine by inserting a winch at the front or rear of the vehicle.

It is recommended that if using your ATV for planting food plots and other heavy work that you purchase a machine with a motor of at least 500 cubic centimeters. Bigger is even better.

Uses for an ATV equipped with the many available accessories are limited only by one's imagination. Implements are available to convert your machine into a four-season tool. And companies such as Kolpin, Kunz and Cabela's are introducing new products all the time. A simple web search or a visit to your local ATV dealer will get you acquainted with the options.

Bill Marchel, an outdoors writer and photographer, lives near Brainerd.