You can easily come up with a list of reasons why off-road vehicles are ideal for hunting. A ride through the gnarly countryside to your deer stand might top the list, as it should. What about a list of non-hunting uses for your ATV or side-by-side? If your list begins and ends with hauling and towing stuff, then you’re selling your off-road vehicle way short.
Off-road vehicles of today are designed and built to haul heavy loads. They even have the power to do light tractor work. In fact, cranking up the farm tractor is overkill for some chores. Side-by-sides and ATVs are also widely accepted substitutes for work normally reserved for pickups, horses and even walking. These vehicles can get the job done in tight squeezes, or on terrain too rough or unsafe for a tractor.
Which off-road vehicle is best for doing some heavy lifting and towing? There are pros and cons for ATVs and side-by-sides. ATVs cost less. Low gears make them logical for towing, and they can’t be beat for maneuvering in tight spaces. ATVs lack the seating when you need an extra hand, though, and they are steered with handlebars. There is no roll bar, seat belt or windshield. Side-by-sides are driven more like a pickup. They can carry more gear and riders, and many models feature a dump bed. Side-by-sides have roll bars, windshields and can even be made street legal. They are also wide, heavy and a trailer is necessary to haul them (unlike an ATV that can fit in the back of most full-size pickups). They can cost $1,000 or more than a comparable ATV. So, which is right for you? It all comes down to the price that fits your budget, and above all else, what kind of work you intend to do. Click here to help determine which might fit you best.
Get more from your investment with these 10 “other” uses for your off-road vehicle. Best of all, you can use it for hunting when the work is complete.
#1 Food plot cultivation
Whitetail deer food plots are typically cultivated on smaller parcels of land, usually one acre or less. That makes an ATV or side-by-side ideal for the work when fitted with the appropriate attachments, e.g., tillers, harrows and broadcast spreaders. You might need a sprayer assembly and tank for herbicides, if you’re eradicating undesirable vegetation. Even with these accessories attached, the off-road vehicle is easier to maneuver in the small space. You can also increase your crop coverage area by planting closer to field edges. There is no turnaround space required like you need for a tractor. Hands down, an ATV or side-by-side is just more efficient for prepping and planting small food plots.
#2 Food plot maintenance
Following germination, there is more work to be done, and the off-road vehicle can handle it all. Fertilizer and granular herbicide application and even watering are tasks that are routinely needed until hunting seasons begin.
#3 Transporting supplies and gear
Perhaps the biggest advantage offered by off-road vehicles is their ability to quickly and easily transport supplies across your property or hunting lease. A side-by-side can carry hundreds of pounds of supplies and tools of various shapes and sizes. Add a tow-behind trailer and your off-road vehicle can do even more. Hauling climbing tree stands and shooting towers come to mind as ideal for these vehicles. Another advantage is the ability to traverse terrain too rough for a pickup or tractor.
#4 Snow plowing
The traction provided by an off-road vehicle operated in a low gear makes it perfect for plowing snow from your driveway. With a plow attachment and accessories such as tire chains, wheel weights and sandbags, these vehicles can be surprisingly effective at clearing snow.
Move over riding mower. ATVs and side-by-sides are entering the lawn care market. With the addition of a mower deck attachment, they can mow a lawn or field with surprisingly effective results. And when fall comes around and it’s time to aerate, reseed and fertilize turf, they are ideal for the job.
#6 Mending fences
Think of your side-by-side as your work partner for small jobs, like building or repairing fences. Again, attachments make the work easier and more efficient. For wire fencing, you can use a rear-mounted wire unroller to let your vehicle unwind the wire with little effort. Back in the day, cowboys on horseback rode miles of fence line looking for needed repairs. You can do the same thing with your side-by-side, and you can take shortcuts through the woods if needed.
#7 Firewood hauling
If you harvest firewood from your property, you already know that it can be difficult—or impossible—to drive a large tractor or pickup through the woods. Here is yet again where the off-road vehicle is the hands-down best choice. The process is easier and better yet, you can go deeper into the woods to selectively harvest firewood.
#8 Feeding livestock
Another task previously reserved for tractors is feeding livestock. Side-by-sides can step up to the job. They are more compact than a pickup truck and easier to get inside a barn near the food source. Ranchers can also drive livestock between pastures from the seat of an ATV or side-by-side, so you get a two-for-one setup for this task.
Off-road vehicles are great assets when you have the ugly job of clearing property of debris or any sort of property maintenance. When you have a small task that needs to be done, all it takes is loading up the vehicle and heading to the job.
Checking game cameras, inspecting fences and treestands and just generally riding about your property to make sure things are in order. Those tasks are made for an ATV or side-by-side. You can also scout game for the hunting season, all from the seat of an off-road vehicle.
Great fuel economy, low maintenance costs and better maneuverability are all check marks on the list of tasks that off-road vehicles are capable of handling. And don’t forget getting to places that are inaccessible to any other motorized vehicle, such as a pickup or tractor, or even a horse. For non-hunting tasks—or if you don’t hunt at all—these vehicles are like a Swiss army knife. You will wonder how you ever did without them!