Hunting is one of the main reasons people are interested in buying a UTV. But not all UTVs are designed with hunters in mind.
A hunting UTV is one with plenty of space for your gear, along with your hunting buddies. You’ll also want space in the bed to carry out an animal, so you can butcher it at home instead of in the field.
Hunting UTVs should be comfortable in any weather conditions and able to navigate difficult terrain. It also helps if the engine is quiet, so you don’t spook animals before you even get to your hunting location.
So how do you choose the best UTV for hunting? Keep reading to discover how to make the UTV selection process as easy as possible, so you can be prepared for the next hunting season.
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Benefits of Using a UTV When Hunting
So why are UTVs a hunter’s best friend? There are tons of reasons that having a UTV will make your hunting season more enjoyable, and more successful. Here’s why.
Hang and Check Trail Cameras Fast
Whether you are hunting private or public land, there’s a good chance you’re going to use trail cameras. They make it possible to scout potential hunting spots on your behalf.
To be successful, you’ll want to hang as many cameras as you can in a multitude of locations. That way, when op[ening day comes, you know exactly where to be.
Having a UTV will make it easier to traverse a property, hanging cameras in different areas. And when you need to check the footage on your cameras, you can get to each camera much faster.
Hanging Tree Stands with Ease
For those who hunt in the Midwest or along the East Coast, there’s a good chance you’ll be hanging a tree stand. Treestands make it possible to get a shot on a deer without them seeing you since deer generally aren’t looking up.
But treestands can be bulky and heavy. And you may need to get to a spot miles away. A UTV can easily store a treestand in the bed so you can carry it right to your preferred hunting location.
Plus, you can bring a buddy along to help you set it up.
Get to Your Hunting Spot Faster
It’s officially hunting season. You’re all prepared for a successful harvest. But now you need to get to your hunting spot each day.
If your spot is deep into the woods, there’s a good chance your truck can’t get you close enough. A UTV can travel off-road, making it possible to park much closer to your hunting destination. This can save you miles and miles of hiking over the course of your hunting season.
Getting to your spot faster can also ensure you aren’t late. Everyone knows you need to be set up before dawn for the highest chance of success.
The Easy Way to Pack Out Your Animal
You plan to actually take down an animal, right? The real work begins once the deer hits the ground. Carrying 100 or 200-pound deer is no easy task, especially if you are miles away from your home.
Rather than butchering your harvest in the field, just load it up onto the bed of your UTV and drive it back home in just a few minutes. Then, take your time and butcher it with care, ensuring your keep as much of your precious meat as possible.
Bring Along Hunting Companions
Most people agree that hunting is more rewarding when you get to share the experience with friends and family. A UTV allows you to carry between two and six passengers. So whether you are bringing your long-time hunting buddy, or bring your child along for their first hunt, you can do so with ease.
ATV or UTV; What’s Better for Hunters?
Many hunters wonder if they should choose an ATV over a UTV. After all, ATVs are much cheaper than most UTVs.
But when it comes to hunting, ATVs are limited. For example, there’s generally no storage. No beds or storage compartments mean you can’t pack out your harvest.
Also, you won’t be able to bring along gear, treestands, or passengers. ATVs work best for preseason scouting and checking trail cameras. But most hunters will find that a UTV is much better suited to the entire hunting experience than a small ATV.
What Makes a Good Hunting UTV?
So you know why you need a hunting UTV. But with so many UTV styles available, how do you select the right one? Here is our UTV buying guide that highlights the key factors to consider for a hunting UTV.
UTVs are the perfect way to travel across difficult terrain. Whether you need to navigate the mountains of the West or thick, overgrown trails in the East, a UTV can get you into prime hunting country.
For best results, choose a UTV with high ground clearance and high suspension travel. This will make it easier to get over large rocks, roots, and potholes without being uncomfortable.
You’ll also want a UTV capable of driving in different climates and terrains. Hunting often takes place in the rain, the snow, and the mud.
The Can-Am Maverick X3 UTV comes with Smart-Lok drivetrain technology. Easily switch and lock your traction system depending on the current conditions.
And you can choose the fully enclosed cab model, for protection and comfort during the harsh winter mornings. Plus, you can also use it during your summer scouting sessions with air conditioning, making for comfortable warm-weather rides, too.
Choose a UTV with Large Cargo Capacity
The best UTVs for hunting will have tons of storage space. A big bed will allow you to bring along hunting rifles or bows, ground blinds, tree stands, hunting packs, snacks, and anything else you need for a day in the field.
And when the day is done, you’ll hopefully need to bring an animal back with you. UTVs with heavy-duty beds can support loads of up to 1,000 pounds, which should be more than sufficient for a deer and hunting gear.
Look for a payload capacity over 1,500 pounds, which includes the weight of your cargo along with any drivers and passengers.
The Can-Am Defender 6×6 can carry just 1,700 pounds total, which includes the driver and passenger. The bed itself can haul 1,000 pounds. And if you need to tow anything behind you, it can pull 3,000 pounds, the highest towing capacity in the UTV world.
Enough Seats for Hunting Companions
At the very least, a UTV is capable of carrying two people. This might be enough for you and your kid, but if you plan on doing group hunts, choose a UTV that can sit at least three, if not four, or more passengers.
Upland bird hunting is much more fun when you have a few buddies along to flush birds with. Plus, you’ll want to bring your hunting dogs along to retrieve the birds.
And if the treestand hunting isn’t yielding any results, you may need to perform a deer drive. You’ll want a few people along for the ride during this as well.
A multi-passenger UTV, such as the Polaris Ranger Crew XP 1000 can seat between four and six passengers comfortably. And Polaris aftermarket accessories make it easy to add racks on the bed or the roof, to make sure there’s enough room for everyone’s gear.
Don’t Spook the Animals: Choose a Quiet UTV
UTVs, along with all other types of off-road vehicles, naturally make a ton of noise. While noise can be fun when riding trails, it’s not ideal when getting ready for a successful hunt, which is where quiet UTVs come in handy.
Seasoned hunters know how to be whisper quiet when in the field. There’s no use tip-toeing to your stand if you just blew out the woods with your firecracker engine a few minutes prior.
If stealth is a key consideration for you, which it should be, you’ll need a quiet UTV. Consider a model such as the Arctic Cat Prowler Pro. This gas-powered UTV is quieter than most other UTVs on the market, thanks to a unique chassis design.
Otherwise, consider an electric UTV. Without fuel combustion, electric UTVs, while offered in a much smaller selection, offered a much quieter riding experience.
You’ll also want to avoid diesel engines. The draw of diesel engines is that they are more fuel-efficient. But UTVs with diesel engines can be louder than gasoline engines, which isn’t great for hunters.
Need to Drive On-Road?
Most UTVs offer a purely off-road driving experience. That’s because UTVs are titled specifically for off-road use.
So you most likely can’t use your UTV on public roads in order to access different pieces of hunting land. UTVs don’t have the necessary safety features to roll side-by-side with full-sized vehicles.
Want the freedom to operate on public roads, so you can get to hunting locations further away from home?
Depending on your state, you may be able to make some aftermarket upgrades to make your UTV road safe. In Michigan, for example, you can operate the Polaris Ranger or John Deere Gator on the roads if you retrofit it with certain safety features and parts, and retitle the vehicle for on-road use.
Choosing the Best Hunting UTV
So which is the best hunting UTV? Many manufacturers specialize in UTVs for hunters.
From increased cargo space and bed capacity to quieter engines, perfectly suited to the deer woods, UTVs can make your hunting experience much more enjoyable.
Looking for the best all-around hunting UTV? The Polaris Ranger XP 1000 is hard to beat. You can choose a model with a fully enclosed cab, keeping out the elements during the late fall and winter. And with four to six passengers, you can share the hunting season with everyone.
Looking for a smaller UTV, capable of getting you into tight hunting locations? Check our list of the best small UTVs here.