The old adage of “hunt smarter, not harder” rings true today. It’s in the nature of the modern hunter to view things that way. That’s not to say today’s hunters don’t have to put in the time, effort and sweat to get everything out of a wild game pursuit. But certain advancements in gear have made it easier to enjoy the hunt that much more. Case and point: ATVs and Side-by-Sides aka UTVs make many aspects of hunting better and more enjoyable for a wider range of hunters.
When the idea of land management first took hold in the hunting world, the natural gravitation toward the ATV as a tool added to the value of owning one. Initially, ATVs and UTVs were used to transport gear, materials and people into the woods and wild, but innovative hunters quickly discovered techniques and designed implements to allow these vehicles to do the work once reserved only for tractors. This lead to a massive increase in the use of food plots by landowners and avid deer hunters, who now consider themselves land managers. The results, of course, are bigger bucks and a healthier deer herd.
The versatility of these vehicles for land management is expanded by the amazing amount of accessories specifically made for ATVs and side-by-sides. For example, you don’t need to have a tractor anymore to plow up a spot for a food plot. One of our favorite systems is the GroundHog Max plow, which sells for $349.99. You can find it as well as everything from spreaders to mowers at Cabela’s.
Much like your truck, your ATV or UTV is ripe for customizing with aftermarket accessories. The most popular add-ons include windshields and roofs. A word of caution: If you put a front windshield on your UTV, you’ll want to add on a rear as well. Otherwise you’ll wind up pulling dust into the cab with you.
Extra lights and lightbars are also popular accessories. Extra lighting is always a plus when working on food plots after dark, setting decoys in the early morning, or hauling out that buck after a successful hunt. The best part of adding accessories to your vehicle is it makes the machine just that much more useful for the specific jobs important to you.
There are many top-notch ATVs and UTVs available on the market today. Selecting the right one takes time and research because you need to know what you want the machine to do, what each machine is capable of, the advantages of some features, and, of course, your budget. Some hunters may simply want a machine to help transport themselves to and from the deer stand. Others want a vehicle to run the whole gambit of food plot planting and management, through the hunt and hauling out the deer after a successful hunt.
UTVs are dominating sales right now, but ATVs are still a strong option. The major advantage an ATV has over a UTV is a matter of space. An ATV is narrower and can fit into areas a UTV is too wide to go, such as tight woods. They can also easily fit into the bed of most pickup trucks. Another plus is cost; most ATVs are thousands cheaper than a comparable UTV.
Cabela’s HiSun UTVs
There are many UTV manufacturers out there. What isn’t widely known is that many of the different brands source parts from just several actual companies. HiSun is a company that produces parts for many manufacturers, as well as their own vehicles. A popular choice at Cabela’s is the Outfitter UTV 1000, which sells for $13,569.
So what are the advantages of one over the other? It all comes down to your needs. The 1000 is powered by a 976cc EFI V-Twin engine. It comes with a 4,500-pound winch, a 1,000-pound payload capacity and a 1,200-pound towing capacity. A winch is a very handy tool to have. It can help you clear obstacles on the trail, help pull your machine out if you get stuck, and even help hang deer stands. The payload capacity is a big deal if you’re working on food plots and need to haul the lime and fertilizer to your spot. The Outfitter even has a powered dump assist on the bed that’s pretty handy for unloading wood, rocks and other cargo.
Need to scale back a bit? Maybe you don’t need that much cargo capacity. The Outfitter 750, which sells for $9,599, is a more economical choice, too. It has many of the same features as the 1000 but comes with a 735cc single cylinder engine. Cargo capacity in the non-power assisted box is 500 pounds. The winch is rated at 3,500 pounds, too. Either model is capable of helping you enjoy the hunt.
Cabela’s has had a long-standing relationship with Coleman, makers of some of the iconic outdoor gear everyone knows and trusts. As part of this relationship, Cabela’s offers some select Coleman UTVs and ATVs that you’re not going to find anywhere else.
Coleman’s Trail Tamer 500 ATV, priced at $5,999, has a 471cc single-overhead cam four-stroke engine. Push-button four-wheel drive and independent suspension helps get you through and over any terrain comfortably, and there is a 2,500-pound winch in case you get stuck.
Another option for the hunter who is simply looking for a quiet way to sneak into his or her deer stand in the morning are the QuietKat Electric Off-Road and Hunting Vehicles. They come in 48-, 60- and 72-volt versions, ranging in price from $5,049 to $6,899. These rugged, well-built machines offer all-terrain capability, excellent braking, and incorporated lean technology that make them excellent at climbing hills. The Kats use Lithium-ion batteries that offer long life, up to 50 miles at full charge on the 72-volt Rancher model, and direct drive motors. Best of all, the QuietKats are made in the U.S. by hunters.
Whether you’re buying a new ATV or UTV, or just looking to accessorize the machine you already have, you can’t deny that the vehicles have made hunting better and land management easier. Ride smart, be careful and considerate of others on the trail and in the woods, and good luck this spring and summer with your land management chores!
This article was produced in cooperation with Cabela’s.
Top image from Coleman Powersports; other images courtesy of Cabela's