When prepping for your next big hunt, it’s just as important to bring the right vehicle as it is to bring the right gear in your pack. Hunters make-up a huge cross-section of America, and they all have different vehicles. In 2011 more than 13 million Americans went hunting and that special or all-terrain vehicles made up more than 30 percent of all hunting expenditures, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Choosing the wrong vehicle for your needs can be an expensive mistake. Here are some of the pros and cons of different vehicles used for hunting and some suggestions of what you should use depending on the nature of your trek.
When it comes to reaching the most inaccessible of hunting trails, nothing beats an SUV. Designed for operation in any terrain, SUVs often have all the space you need to bring a friend, kennel for your hunting dog, and all the gear you need to camp at your destination. A mid-size SUV with four-wheel drive, such as the Chevrolet Trailblazer, can seat five people while still having more than enough room for several long guns and sufficient camping equipment for your crew.
However, when it comes to big game hunting, keep in mind that any game you harvest is going to end up in the SUV with you. All the horsepower in the world won’t help with the fact that you may end up with a whitetail in the backseat if you choose an SUV as your primary hunting vehicle.
Finally, SUVs often come with a steep price tag, though researching your rig with online auto search tools such as Kelly Blue Book can help you to find an affordable option. In the end, SUVs make excellent lead or scout cars if you are taking more than one vehicle out hunting, but if it is your primary vehicle it can be messy for big game hunts.
Pickups are at heart a working vehicle, and often a hunter’s number one choice. What pickups lack in cab space they more than make-up for with reliability, power, and storage capacity. Pickups like the Nissan Titan with an extended cab can make-up for the loss of seating without sacrificing any of the horsepower or bed space that makes pickups such an excellent option for hunting.
While they are not as good as off-roading vehicles as an SUV might be, pickups can carry big game without complications. Gear, if properly stored and covered, can be carried in the back as well. Affordable and rugged, there is a reason that pickups are such a common sight on back trails. Upland hunters such as pheasant and quail hunters use modified pickups almost exclusively in pursuit of the winged quarry, since at low-speeds a shooter can position themselves in the bed of the truck. As long as you aren’t trekking into remote and difficult to access regions, a pickup is your best option.
An often forgotten option, ATVs can be one of the best options available under certain circumstances. Capable of reaching places that even an SUV cannot, an ATV such as the Arctic Cat 700 can greatly extend your hunting range and provide you with more freedom than any other vehicle. All-terrain vehicles have lower centers of gravity that let them crawl over terrain no pickup or SUV could handle, and with their powerful fuel efficiency they can get you to isolated hunting spots that other hunters can only dream of.
While you won’t be strapping your gear, friend and dog to an ATV, a small team of hunters with ATVs can be a highly efficient group. Combined with an SUV or pickup to bring game home in, ATVs can completely change the way to access your hunting grounds.
Whatever your pursuits entail, whether it’s hunting big game, small game, waterfowl, upland birds, furbearers or predators, pack up your vehicle and hit the road in one of these top sportsmen approved rigs.