UTVs and ATVs have emerged as a must-have hunting accessory for today's trophy chasers. The advantages of utilizing an ATV or UTV in the field are without question one of the most convenient, time-saving tools a sportsman can own. No more lugging tree stands or bait hundreds of yards, or even miles, into your trophy animal's neck of the woods. Carrying harvested animals over logs and through underbrush is a thing of the past; just fire up the old 4x4 or side by side, and your hauling worries are gone. The aching backs of hunters everywhere have been singing the praises of ATVs and UTVs for years now.
Is your UTV / ATV scaring all the game away?
Still, with all the positive advantages ATVs and UTVs bring to your hunting experience, several questions remain hotly debated by hunters:
- Where should I park my ATV or UTV?
- How close is too close?
- Will driving the vehicle too near my stand scare all the game away and ruin my chances?
The short answer: Maybe. Maybe not. Depends on how you use your machine!
There’s no hiding the loud roar of an ATV or UTV motor, or the crunching of gravel or branches beneath your vehicle’s wheels as you roll down the trail. You can’t hope to hide or mask the gasoline smell. Even if you operate an electric vehicle, they are still lubricated by petrol products, which have a very distinct scent that you better believe most game can smell. However, with that said, parking a mile or more from your stand isn’t necessarily required for a successful hunt utilizing an ATV or UTV for your transportation needs.
As any moderately successful hunter knows, one of the major keys to success in harvesting game is behavior patterning. As hunters, we observe the game we hunt, we seek to locate their feeding and bedding locations, we look for signs of their scrapes, rubs, and scat; we set up trail cameras to capture how many and how big of animals are in the area; and once we are confident of their whereabouts, we use tools to seek to mold these behaviors to our needs. We hang stands near major travel routes, cut shooting lanes, and place bait piles and scents.
A successful hunt with an ATV or UTV can be had by following these same principles!
Rather than trying to hide our vehicles, or wait to go roaring into our stand with an ATV/UTV the first time in months on opening day, a much more effective approach is exposure. Make it a point to condition deer in your area to your machine by regular and patterned use. If you plan on parking an ATV or UTV near your stand, throughout the year, as you bait or scout the area around your stand, park your machine in the same spot. Drive the course/route you plan to take to the stand a week prior to the start of the season.
If you’ve ever hunted on or near farmland, most animals in the area aren’t spooked by the machinery and implements used for working the land, so why should they apply an exception to your ATV or UTV? The game on the property you plan to hunt will be educated to trust that the sound and smell of an ATV or UTV shouldn’t be associated with danger. When you roll in on your ATV or UTV during the next open season, you can hunt assured that the presence of your vehicle is no longer a liability, but rather an asset to you! Shoot straight and ride true!