It’s hard to imagine a time when big game hunters didn’t use ATVs or
utility vehicles (UTVs). The classic images of western hunters packing
in with horses and mules are now kept by only a nostalgic few. Of
course there are plenty of hunters today who don’t use off-road
vehicles. However, all hunters from those who stalk big game to ones
who hunt upland birds, could benefit from using an ATV or UTV. From the
first snow machines to the modern day side-by-side, the extreme demands
of avid hunters have influenced the evolution of these vehicles.
Mirroring this evolution, off-road vehicles themselves have changed the
sport of hunting. History proves there’s no turning back from these
advanced machines, and the farthest frontiers are only as far as a few
extra gas cans.
Two main factors have increased hunters usage of off-road vehicles
during the past few decades. Hunting popularity has increased, and
innovations of hunting products and tactics have been introduced.
When something is popular everyone wants to do it. For hunters
this means traveling farther to find that perfect secluded hunting
spot. Whether it’s hunting farther from base camp, or scouting a
potential hunting lease, off-road vehicles allow hunters to quickly
expand their range. Realistically, there’s only so far a hunter can
venture on foot, but with off-road vehicles remote hunting locations can
be reached sooner, hunted longer, and daylight is no longer an issue.
With increased popularity comes more hunting pressure, especially to
public access areas. Once secluded destinations have become hunting
hotspots, forcing hunters to spread out to find their piece of paradise.
Perhaps just as important to the evolution of these machines is
the use of hunting tactics that require vehicles with hauling
capabilities. Deer feeders and tree stands, for example, are popular
among whitetail hunters. Scouting and staging multiple feeder-stand
locations can be a one man job when using a UTV. UTVs easily haul
multiple passengers and cargo through a variety of terrain, making them
ideal for hunting clubs and lease partners. On the other end of the
hunting spectrum UTVs are ideal for setting up remote hunting camps.
There’s so much time devoted to creating or escaping to a hunting
paradise that off-road vehicles have become a necessity.
Great Plains Kubota salesman, Brent Elliott has a large family,
and they all enjoy the outdoors. He stated that without his off-road
vehicles they would do a lot less hunting.
“We use our ATVs and UTVs to check cameras, which is a great way
to scout for a busy guy like me. There’s no way I could check five
cameras after work if I was on foot. I also use them to drop off family
and friends at different hunting spots on my property. They’re more fuel
efficient than larger vehicles so I can haul kids, recover deer, and
scout without breaking the bank or my back. I wouldn’t be able to hunt
the way I do without these machines,” said Elliott.
Planting food plots is another increasing tactic hunters use to
attract deer. Hunters on a budget can easily plant supplemental food
anywhere on their property with an off-road vehicle paired with an
all-in-one tow behind implement.
The dedicated woodsman who treks solo after big game knows the
importance of a maneuverable off-road vehicle, such as an ATV. When it
comes to packing out game, a well-equipped ATV or UTV is simply the
superior method. Accessories like winches, trailers, cargo boxes,
additional lighting, GPS, and protective coverings are essential to the
all-terrain hunter. Another Great Plains Kubota hunter who knows the
challenges of hunting dramatic terrain is Allen Dennis.
“The land I hunt is only accessible by a steep ridge next to a
river. Trucks can’t handle the extreme incline so we have to use ATVs
to haul our gear to the hunting locations. We’ve even used ATVs to pull
trailers with riding mowers, so we could maintain our food plots. It’s
not like we actually hunt on them, but we couldn’t hunt without them,”
Off-road vehicles used in hunting have also created conflicts
among the hunting community. Hunting and shooting from these machines
isn’t fair chase, and reflects poorly on the sport. Laws set in place
are designed to protect both the environment and the future of using
So, which off-road vehicle is better? Choosing between ATVs or
UTVs comes down to preference, price, and capabilities. Typically ATV’s
are less expensive. They are faster and narrower than UTV’s, making them
capable of going places UTVs can’t. However UTV’s make up for this with
their torque and towing capabilities. With more storage capacity and
passenger options utility vehicles offer hunters versatility ATVs don’t
have. Despite there small differences off-road vehicles were both
designed to get hunters to and from extreme destinations.
For some, hunting is about creating a private paradise. For
others, it’s about escaping to far away destinations. Whatever’s
desired, off-road vehicles can be a hunter’s companion, pack mule, or
rescue team. They’re invaluable when setting up remote camps, scouting
property, planting food plots, or reaching extreme destinations. They
make all the wants and needs of the modern day hunter possible, and will
continue to evolve with the sport.