Serious hunters require serious tools to get the job done. But when you think about your must-have tools for hunting, is a quality vehicle at the top of your list? If not, it should be.
A dependable off-road vehicle is certainly an expensive piece of hunting gear, but once you see all the ways an ATV or UTV can make your favorite outdoor hobby easier, there’s no denying it’s worth the investment. And the best part? A machine won’t just be your best friend during active hunting seasons. Between the prep work that happens before the start of the season and the maintenance you do after it’s over, you’ll get the most out of it all year long.
So let’s take a look at what you can do with an ATV or UTV that you can’t with your regular vehicle. If you’re a hunter and you weren’t already convinced that you need one of these machines to get the most out of each hunt, you will be soon.
NOTE: Become familiar with your state’s hunting regulations before embarking on a hunt. Make sure your hunting license is valid, and pay attention to land use issues and whether or not parks allow off-road vehicles. In addition, note that some state laws make it illegal to carry a loaded weapon in your UTV—this is obviously something you’d want to be aware of ahead of time. For the safety of you and everyone around you, take the time to research the laws in your area.
Prepping for the upcoming hunting season has never been easier than it is with a quad or side-by-side. An off-road rig can save you hours in prep time, and it also makes the whole process safer—especially if you’re tackling it solo.
No matter where you hunt, it’s way easier to navigate land in an ATV or UTV than in a full-size truck or Jeep. This comes in handy when scouting your favorite hunting spot for food plots or camera locations. Smaller off-road vehicles can take you places your regular vehicle can’t, which leads to less walking and quicker scouting.
A lot of work goes into preparing for your hunting season of choice. Loading those feeders and setting up your hunting blind or tree stand is made so much easier with a quad or side-by-side. Off-road vehicles can help you haul your ladder or tree stand to remote locations that your daily driver can’t get to. And if you’re equipped with a winch (which you should be), even better! Use that winch to hoist your ladder or hang your stand.
Keeping up with the food plots on your hunting grounds can be a year-round job, and it’s one job that is made easier with an ATV or UTV. Because plots are typically in locations that regular vehicles can’t get to, you can save yourself some steps and use your machine to carry seed, fertilizer, and spreaders to the food plots on your property.
When you’re hunting, you want to be able to focus on just that—hunting. The last thing you should have to worry about is missing a hunting opportunity because you can’t get there quickly enough, or wondering how you’re going to haul everything back home after the hunt is over.
Again, the main and most obvious benefit of choosing an ATV or UTV over your daily driver truck is that you can maneuver through the woods way more easily. Off-road vehicles are designed for tackling narrow and winding trails, which means you’re going to spend less time on foot and more time looking out for the next kill.
Well-planned hunts require gear. Like, a lot of gear. So another huge benefit of hunting with an ORV is that you can easily pack around everything you need. Whether you’re utilizing the racks on a quad or the spacious bed of your side-by-side, being able to store your backpack, weapons, decoys, and safety gear on your vehicle is way better than hauling it all on your own.
Nothing makes it easier to bring that prize kill from the field to the table than an ATV or side-by-side. Whether you’re hauling a trailer or loading it right into your UTV bed, being able to pull your machine right up to the site of the kill is safer and saves you a ton of time.
If you’re wrapping up the hunt after dark, extra lighting is always a plus. So when you need both hands to get the job done, forget about holding the flashlight between your teeth! If you’ve got a good set of headlights on your machine, just aim them where you need to see and you’re golden.
…or the deer, the elk, or the turkey. If all goes as planned, you’re going to have some meat that needs hauled home. The closer you can get your machine to the kill, the less legwork you have to put in. Being able to pull your ATV or UTV right up to the site and load it saves you tons of time and effort. And if you have a winch (which, again, you should), you can even use it to hoist your kill.
So now that we’ve covered the many reasons why you need a trusty off-road sidekick for your next hunt, the question remains: do I want an ATV or a UTV?
As with any machine recommendation, it really comes down to your personal preference and what type of hunting you do. No matter how you look at it, though, both quads and side-by-sides have impressive advantages over full-size vehicles.
Here are some questions to ask yourself if you’re thinking about buying a new machine for hunting:
The type of machine you’d benefit most from depends largely on your answers to these questions. Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of each.
When it comes to hauling gear or bringing home your kill, don’t count ATVs out just because they’re smaller than UTVs. While it’s true that many models are more suited to hauling small game, like wild turkey, other quads have front and rear racks that can hold anywhere from 75-200 pounds. That would give you enough power to haul home several birds or rabbits, or even a deer if it’s on the smaller side.
Here are some other reasons why hunters love ATVs:
And now for the cons:
Side-by-sides are another great option for hunters, but for a different reason. They’re larger and more powerful than ATVs, meaning you can easily haul the biggest kill home with ease. If you’re equipped with the right tools, you can even use your UTV to hoist and haul large game all by yourself.
Here’s why hunters love venturing out with a UTV:
Why would you not want a UTV for hunting?
With both ATVs and UTVs, many manufacturers offer hunting editions of their more popular models. These special editions come equipped with factory-installed hunting accessories, making them perfect for serious hunters. It’s true that they’re a little pricier than basic models, but some people might prefer shelling out the extra dough to avoid equipping it themselves.
And if noise is a concern when traveling to your favorite hunting spot, it might be worth it to look into one of the many electric models on the market right now. Electric machines, like the Polaris Ranger EV, will get you to your destination more quietly, so you’ll be less likely to disturb whatever wildlife is around.
Off-road vehicles allow you to get close with nature in a way that larger vehicles can’t, which is part of what makes them the perfect hunting partner. An ATV or UTV can take you right up to your favorite tree stand or the site of your most recent kill—places that are usually a pain to reach by foot. They make prep work safer and easier, and provide an easy way to haul your kill home when the hunt is over. No matter where you live or what you hunt for, there’s no denying that a quality off-road machine can totally overhaul the way you experience hunting.