OUTDOORSMAN: Swapping Alliances

I’m a big fan of ATVs and have hauled a substantial number of moose and deer out of the bush with them over the past 30 years.

Looking back, I’m amazed at the loads we’ve been able to carry through some of the dirtiest holes to get our game out instead of having to drag it or quarter it and pack it out to camp. Honestly though, I cannot imagine life at the camp without having the use of a side by side!

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Does this mean the tried and true ATV has fallen out of favor with me? Absolutely not, but over the course of a calendar year I will put more miles on an ATV than a SxS because where I live, a UTV is not road legal. On the other hand, ATVs, with certain restrictions, are. I don’t agree but I grudgingly accept it.

The sales of SxS vehicles are growing rapidly and the more I use them, the more I find the versatility of a UTV meets the requirements of my lifestyle. We’re seeing a wide spectrum of specific duties from the Polaris Ranger HD with its multi-use accessories and even electric powered UTVs are becoming popular for the simple reason they’re so quiet.

One of my favorites is the amphibious Argo, and while not a traditional UTV, it’s been around for many years and is continually being refined. The rubber track kit transforms the Argo into a 4-season workhorse. Being amphibious makes the Argo a very popular choice for many a hunt camp as they will get you in and out of otherwise inaccessible places. What truly amazes me is the toughness and long life of an Argo. They’re like the Energizer bunny; they never quit.

Lately, I’ve been leaning more towards using our UTV press units at the camp because of the ways they make my recreation time more enjoyable. Working on trails in and around the camp is much easier because I don’t have to use an ATV trailer all the time and because there’s less need to continually secure equipment with bungee cords.

The roll bars make carrying brush and liming saws a breeze and they also make a great boat rack for our 14-foot square stern Sportspal Canoe. Their wide-box cargo capacity makes getting gear into camp an easier task and UTV dump boxes make quick work of minor trail repairs. Besides all that, getting those Whitetails back to the hanging pole at camp is a much easier task.

UTVs have been a homerun with the older (cough) hunters in camp and with Brogan’s daughters who feel they’re more user-friendly to operate because they’re so similar to driving a car. With the cargo box, the girls don’t have to fasten their packs down, either.

I’ve heard some complaints about people who doubt the capabilities of a SxS: “They won’t go where my ATV will go!” Others claim they’re too wide. For the record, we have had to widen a few of our trails marginally but so far I have yet to find anywhere a SxS has been at a disadvantage.

The last couple of seasons we’ve experienced above average snowfall in bow season and, in my opinion, the UTVs have handled the snow better. Last winter we installed a set of Camoplast tracks on our Polaris HD and groomed snowmobile trails with it. One thing is for certain, in adverse winter conditions, side by sides are a warmer ride and with all the enclosed cab options available they can be made downright cozy.

Oh, and besides all of this, camp owners will find a UTV makes a great vehicle for visits after a day of hunting. It’s perfect for those times when you head out to another camp to tell those big buck stories.

While you’re en-route you can get your stories, lies and excuses straight with your buddy riding beside you. As you can tell, I’m a big fan!

I wonder if, back when Kawasaki first introduced the Mule, the company had any idea of how far this segment would expand.

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