Hunting Season with Your ATV
By Midwest Traction on September 4, 2018
Don’t let those wascally wabbits get away (or whichever animal you’re hunting). We’ve got the top tips for ATV hunting season.
Note: Most hunting places do not permit use of ATVs for chasing and hunting prey. Many do not allow you to use your ATV to haul your catch out, either. Observe local law and contact your DNR for rules and regulations in your area. The following suggestions are to help you navigate to and from your hunting site, where permitted.
Avoid Being Mistaken for Prey
Nobody should be accidentally shot because someone thought they were a moose. Here are a few tips to make it home alive.
Wear Bright Clothing
Most hunters wear blaze orange. If you bundle yourself in camouflage, you're asking for trouble. When riding your four-wheeler, make sure your ATV helmet is a vivid, brilliant color. Sometimes hunters only see your head bobbing through the trees.
Flash Your Friends
Carry a signal mirror and when you see another hunter, flash them and wave vigorously when you get their attention so they'll know you are in the area.
Almost any department store carries FRS (Family Radio Service) radios that transmit up to several miles. Stay in touch with other hunters.
This should go without saying, but don't drink while hunting or riding an ATV. If you pull up next to a truck with a bunch of empty beer cans in the back, reroute far away.
Advantages of Hunting with an Off-Highway Vehicle
Trucks are comfortable and warm and allow you to listen to the radio or converse with a friend as you scout for animals, but they don’t quite do the job for those hard to access areas. ATVs, however, offer a lot of advantages to hunters. Here are a few:
Access to Difficult Locations
There are a lot of trails today that are built with ATVs in mind; trails too narrow and rugged for full-sized trucks. Trails become overgrown and really scratch up the paint job on your truck. Some wash out or have stream crossings, while others have large boulders. An off-highway vehicle outfitted with a durable set of all-terrain ATV tires will get you through any of these situations.
Cover a Lot of Ground
If the game you’re hunting is on the move, it’s very easy to keep pace or to relocate to a new position while keeping all of your gear with you.
With an all-terrain vehicle, you can hunt all day and keep everything you need right with you-even use it as a comfortable place to sit while leaving the big or unnecessary stuff back at base camp.
Carry Large Game
Once you finally bag that trophy (bear, deer, elk, hog, antelope, moose, turkey, etc.), getting it back to camp is quite easy. If it’s been raining, put on a pair of ITP Mudlites before you go to be sure you have the traction needed to haul that load.
Obey the Law
Each state or province has its own set of laws to govern hunting, so don’t assume everywhere is the same. One of the biggest mistakes is riding off designated trails for hunting or game retrieval purposes. Most areas do not permit this practice.
Perhaps the number one area of regulation is the transport of firearms or other hunting devices such as bows. Laws are all over the map on this issue. It’s usually considered unlawful to carry a loaded firearm on an ATV. What is loaded? In some states, the magazine may not be inserted into the gun, while in others an unloaded firearm requires at least two mechanical actions before the gun will fire. There are laws that require firearms be completely encased during transport. Yet, in other places, this only applies to long rifles, not handguns. Similarly, bows often cannot have arrows in them, arrows must be in a quiver, or a bow must be encased. Take some time to learn these rules or it could cost you.
When carrying concealed firearms, a permit is required and it must remain concealed. Whose land are you on? In most cases, concealed carry permits do not apply to federal properties. If you are out of your home state, check the laws of the state you are visiting to see if they honor your state’s concealed carry permit; it’s called reciprocity.
Shooting from a motor vehicle – any motor vehicle – is often prohibited.
No matter where or what you hunt this season, be safe.
Sheriffs around the country are warning hunters to be mindful of thieves this hunting season, as every year reports pile up for stolen ATVs and hunting supplies. Vandalism is also commonly reported, with punctured tires and body/fuel cell damage.
Law enforcement officials suggest hunters mark vehicles with your driver’s license number, park them in a covered area out of sight, and take your keys. Most thefts involve the transfer of ATV’s across state lines where they are sold cheaply or they are brought to private camps and repainted for personal use.
ATV Hunting Tires
For hunting, terrain should be the main factor in the ATV tires you choose.
What you need will depend on a number of variables. If you will be driving through a lot of brush, it may be wise to invest in some 6-d or 8-ply rated ATV tires. The tougher, heavier tire carcass can make a lot of difference in reducing sidewall cuts and nuisance punctures from stubble and thorns. This won't guarantee you'll never have a flat, but they should be noticeably rarer. Beware, the heavier weight of the 6- and 8-ply tires can leave your previously adequate quad woefully underpowered if your machine is on the lower end of the power spectrum.
Tread patterns range from mild to wild, but they all come with tradeoffs. For instance, a great mud tire will likely wear quickly and be rough and noisy on hard surfaces. A tire that is fast, smooth, and quiet on hard surfaces won't perform when you hit those rough, muddy parts. This is why it is important to look carefully at what you really want out of your ATV tire.
If you have a deer stand on the edge of some timber that is 500 feet from the road and requires little more than driving through a hayfield to get to, you won't need a very aggressive tire.
On the other hand, if you have five miles of hilly, often muddy timber to pass through with one or more creek crossings, you'll need something with a bit more bite – especially when it comes to hauling back that trophy buck. For this, you'll want a tire with a deeper, more aggressive lug and a more open, self-cleaning design. And it might be wise to invest in an ATV Winch, too, just in case you get stuck.
There are many choices and brands of ATV Tires to choose from for these and other types of terrain. Give us a call and we'd be glad to go over the options with you.
ATV Hunting Accessories
There are lots of great ATV accessories for every occasion and hunting is no different. It’s a long list, but here are a few most often used:
You’re trying to get to your campsite, but it’s the end of the year and the trees have given up on standing tall. Downed limbs in your way? Winches can remove those. Slide into a mud pond? The winch can pull you out. Seeing a pattern here?
A few tips:
- Choose the correct load capacity for your vehicle
- Always use gloves
- Keep tree straps on hand to prevent bark damage
- Use it for short bursts while the engine is on to avoid overheating and battery drain
- Snatch blocks are handy tools for boosting load capacity
Best rule: Practice winching before you need it. You can find several winch components in our online store and learn more about all the reasons to have a winch here.
Gun Scabbards & Bow Holders
They protect your firearm, keep it handy, and allow for safe transport. They come in many styles: hard case, soft case, leather, enclosed, open-ended and camouflage. It’s important for archers to protect their expensive bows, especially when riding in rough country. And, just like gun scabbards, bow cases can be hard or soft, enclosed or exposed.
Similar to a gun scabbard, gun racks are an “open” method of carrying for fast access to your rifle. Gun racks come in many types: U-shaped grips, enclosed oval grips or Rubber Snubbers are among the most common. They attach to cargo racks, roll bars, and the frame of a UTV.
Tree Stands and Carriers
ATVs can easily carry tree stands to a blind or observation point. You can even get a “Ride and Hide ATV Stand” that mounts to your four-wheeler so you don’t even need a tree.
- Fender bags make handy and accessible storage compartments for arrow tips, ammunition, elk bugles, and numerous other hunting items
- Cargo boxes or rack bags
- Big game loaders work similar to forklifts. They mount to the front of an ATV and use the power of your winch to lift, secure, and carry animals
Kolpin makes one of these units that claim to reduce exhaust noise by 50%, which isn’t a bad investment when you’re hunting skittish prey. We've seen some that boast 60%, but we want to hear your thoughts on noise reduction devices. Do you use one? What are the positive and negatives?
Let’s face it, the weather can be mighty cold during the late fall, and staying warm is important. There are a variety of devices on the market today that attach to the handle grips of an off-highway vehicle to keep your hands warm. Snowmobiles have used these for years, and it’s about time ATVs did the same.
Not only does a helmet keep you safe from injury, but it will keep your head warm and dry during inclement weather in the backcountry.
Depending on the time of year, the amount of light when you trek in and haul out can be limited. Outfit your four-wheeler with a high-beam and make sure you have a trustworthy mount designed to withstand the uneven terrain.
Stay safe this hunting season. Keep your wits about you, relocate if anything seems fishy, and share your scores with us on Facebook and Twitter!