There is nothing like a rich damp on the ground, the smell of burning pine and a strong headwind to inform you that winter is drawing in and the hunting season is just about to begin. However, if you’re a hunter that takes their stalking seriously, you’re going to need an ATV that performs as well as you do.
For a lot of hunters, the hunt is all-consuming and not just confined to a few weeks out of the year. You want a vehicle that can traverse a wide variety of terrain throughout all seasons in the tireless scouting for game.
Hunters are going to need a truly reliable, versatile, durable and customizable machine to get them through the hard year of laying food traps and promoting a healthy habitat for more robust game.
But what if you’re a beginner to the grand sport of hunting? What would you look for in a prime hunting ATV? What are the obstacles you can expect to encounter ‘in the brush’ and what additions and accessories should an ATV have to surmount these obstacles? How much can a top-of-the-range hunting ATV be expected to set you back?
Well, don’t worry, because we’ve managed to compile a list of the 6 best hunting ATVs that you can currently get on the market. Along with that, we have a buyer’s guide that should clarify some of the various do’s and don’ts of hunting, as well as the questions we’ve been most asked about our four-wheeled game-catching companions.
So grab your rifle and your favorite trapper's hat and let’s get stuck in!
Top 6 Best ATV For Hunting
OUR TOP PICK
First off, we’re going to look at one of the higher-powered engines in the ATV game currently. This one makes quick work of thick mud and gravel alike, with pliable suspension and a liquid-cooled four-stroke, the Brute Force 750 EPS definitely lives up to its namesake.
If you go full throttle on this bad boy when it’s at a standstill, you’d better hold onto your seat, as you’ll find yourself up in the air on two wheels in a few seconds flat!
This machine has independent suspension in the front and rear, allowing for an astronomic level of control and responsiveness from unruly surfaces such as gravel and hard-packed mud. Over choppy surfaces, the ride is very smooth, although it does struggle when having to suffer hard landings and high-speed dirt riding.
This beast can haul over 1250 pounds across forest and trail. It also has storage bins and steel cargo racks for your heavy rifles, with tie-down points to secure loose cargo.
With electronic power steering, navigating those dense areas of pine will feel liquid-smooth under your hands, this one won’t buck and twitch underneath while you’re riding it! The brakes are softer than usual, so you might have to give yourselves a few extra seconds before braking.
With a high amount of torque in its powerband, the Brute Force is a well-rounded rider that can tear through rock, sand, wood, mud and grass. This is a dependable machine for all weather and terrains, which will be perfect for those who want to hunt across a variety of landscapes.
A high-powered engine results in high-speed, which is perfect when in hot pursuit of the especially nimble-footed woodland creatures.
The supple suspension is ideal for uneven surfaces, allowing you to negotiate tricky terrain without losing your gear or your seat.
Plenty of storage space for the average hunter, however, there are ATV’s that can carry more weight.
The brakes aren’t the best, which becomes a real hazard if you want to dismount your bike fast in pursuit of game.
The suspension doesn’t deal well with hard landings, so if you’re thinking about vaulting high outcrops of rock and turf, you might want to consider some of our other more durable models.
Now we move on to a speedy ATV with a plush ride, a steely response and top-notch build quality - it’s the Can-Am Outlander DPS 570 and it’s the ideal hunting companion.
Complete with the Can-Am’s Tri-Mode dynamic power steering, this ATV will adapt itself to whatever conditions you’re driving in. It has a medium setting for slightly bumpy terrain, but set it to max if you want to keep just one hand on the steering wheel and one eye on the prey!
The braking power of the Can-Am is unmatched, with downhill braking proving particularly durable, you can rely on this one to provide instant stop time from pump to wheel. With two brake discs in the front, newbies won’t need to worry about flipping this monster.
The Can-Am has a high carry capacity, the steel racks on the front and rear will allow you to strap your loads down with rope or wire.
The one drawback of this ATV is that it tends to pitch forwards or backward when engaging with a gear, so first-time users might want to pump the brakes during a gear change.
Okay, now we’re moving onto another heavy-duty monster like the Brute Force, except slightly less powerful and with fewer torque capacities, the Yahmaha Grizzly 700 EPS roars up in third place as a mud-chewing hunting companion to be reckoned with.
The build quality and handling of this machine is superior to most other ATVs, with a larger carrying capacity for those hunters looking to haul a hefty amount of equipment uphill and downtrail and need that extra power.
It contains power-steering, independent suspension and impressive Ultramatic auto transmission that gives the user a high degree of control over the vehicle.
With hydraulic disc brakes on the front and back, this machine will halt in a hair’s breadth, with separate brakes on the front and rear handlebars, again, giving the rider precision control if they need to hop off the bike quickly.
On the handlebars, there is also a simple one-button four-wheel- and two-wheel-drive change, although the ATV needs to come to a complete stop to engage the 4WD. However, if you can move past this inconvenient quirk, then the 4WD will pull you out of many muddy holes or slippery embankments.
Good for hauling large amounts of gear across treacherous terrain, with front and rear steel racks.
A responsive engine that packs a punch, with four-wheel downhill braking that gives you a high level of control.
Hydraulic disc brakes and four-wheel drive makes this machine one of the more reliable brands on the market.
Lacking in power compared to certain other ATVs like the Brute Force.
It is difficult to access the radiator on the Grizzly.
Okay, now we’re going back to the Can-Am model of ATV, but this time with super improvements! The XT 850 DPS is a much-enhanced version of older models like the one listed above, with a V-twin engine that can generate an impressive 78 horsepower, this 50-inch tall brute won’t leave you stranded in the mud.
When sweeping around slippery corners, you’ll want nothing less than the 850, its front and rear sway bars specifically designed to keep you firmly anchored to the ground at all costs.
This version of the Outlander has completely done away with the throttle cable, instead pioneering a new Intelligent Throttle Control (ITC) that is completely wireless, offering the rider the options of Work or Sport mode, the throttle adapting to the terrain you want. From damp bog to hard-packed dirt, this ATV will stick by you in all conditions.
This rider is also customizable for additional riders, so you can bring a spotter with you on those difficult hunts. The back of the vehicle can accommodate a fully-grown adult, with a backrest in the seat that gives both riders extra stability.
The only issue users find with the XT 850 is that a few times the engine belt has slipped as the machine uses all its power to traverse extremely high-grade surfaces like a fallen log or a steep hillock.
With a wider 59-inch wheelbase, the Can-Am ensures solid and soft riding across even the highest range of surfaces.
The precision-engineered ITC gives the rider far more adaptive handling, allowing you great control over mud or hard-packed dirt terrain.
Corner handling is excellent, making this a perfect ATV to use if you anticipate dense areas of forest.
You can expect belt slippages on this version of the Can-Am, which won’t be ideal if you’re in the middle of tracking game.
The exterior of this machine will undoubtedly raise a few eyebrows but guaranteed after the initial run of this beast, eyebrows will be raised for a different reason. The Polaris Sportsman Big Boss is the six-wheeled ATV that will hit the ground running.
The Big Boss is very nippy on even the most difficult terrain, the extra axles under the wheels and power steering more than compensating for the larger radius as a result of its long body.
The extra bulk and weight of this machine are more than made up for in its extra two 26-inch wheels that ensure you’ll be navigating variegated surfaces in no time at all.
This is an ideal ATV for maintaining a hunting property, with that additional cargo space in the back which will enable you to carry additional passengers as well as the fruits of your game hunt. You’ll be looking forward to bringing a few bucks home in this one!
Speaking of bucks, the Big Boss fits somewhere between an ATV and a UTV without having to fork out the usual price for the latter. This is the ideal rider for anyone who wants all the additional goodies such as a bed extender rack, an integrated winch and a plow mount.
Comparing this with other ATVs is no contest - the Big Boss trumps them for storage, all-terrain capabilities, utility and also, most importantly, price!
This six-wheeled behemoth will not have trouble navigating a wide variety of terrains.
Because of its lengthy torso, the turning on the Big Boss is very tight, which might be difficult if you’re planning on weaving through compact wooded pockets.
This moves a little stiffer than your average four-wheeler, which might prove irritating if maneuverability is high on your priorities.
Now we move on to a company that specializes in off-roading vehicles, the Arctic Cat Prowler 700 HDX. This cart is the perfect unit for those looking to shift heavy loads of game across many acres in all weathers and terrains.
This side-by-side - referring to a vehicle that can accommodate 2 to 3 people sitting side-by-side - has a comfortable and roomy cab that is extremely resilient to extreme hot and cold weathers once fitted with a roof and a windscreen.
However, the main draw of this vehicle is not its capacity for people but its capacity for equipment - it comes with a 454kg manually tilting dump box, two side storage units and another storage unit under the hood. So, if you have plenty of gear that needs shifting - this is the one for you!
The Prowler has a gargantuan power steering pump that can absorb far more ground shock than other brands we have seen such as the Can-Am. The brakes are very sturdy and the power steering is highly adaptive for off-road use.
The one minor flaw in the Prowler is the low level of ground clearance. It copes well on a small uneven surface with its longer wheelbase, however, the prowler frequently gets hung up on large rocks and mounts where the belly just doesn’t have sufficient clearance.
This vehicle is like a trusty mule - able to carry yourself, your hunting partner and a host of hunting gear across vast distances without complaint.
This is reasonably priced considering all the bells and whistles you get with it. If you are serious about bringing home half a tonne of game, you won’t think twice about spending money on the Prowler.
The ride quality is top-notch on this ATV, with adjustable air shocks in the back that will give you a smooth ride for whatever terrain the wild can throw at you.
If you know you're heading into the rockies, you might want to skip this one. The low ground clearance might leave you high and dry during an intense hunt.
Best ATV For Hunting Buying Guide
As we have seen, these ATVs offer a diverse set of attributes and features that make them especially suited to hunts across a lot of landscapes. But what are you looking for in a vehicle that will enhance your hunting abilities and take your game to the next level?
Power is essential when pursuing different types of game across wider expanses of territory. Remember: an animal will know the terrain far better than you and is born specifically adapted to move around its environment with ease. For example, elks and small bucks are extremely agile and dexterous when moving through forested terrain.
You want an ATV with good power steering that will enable you to chew up miles of uneven terrain without issue. You might need to catch up with your game across miles and miles, so you’ll want decent front and rear suspension for a smoother ride that won’t leave you saddle sore.
You want a vehicle that can cope with different types of often harsh terrain. Protective side panels are useful in stopping bushes and trees whipping you in the face at high speeds. You also want decent tire responsiveness, especially if you’ll be transitioning from damp to hard-packed mud many times throughout a day.
Best ATV For Hunting FAQ's
Should I Be Looking For Storage Or Speed?
To be honest, speed is not the most important factor in hunting, as most hunters prefer to cover a lot of ground slower, stalking their prey through great distances so as not to spook them.
However, what hunting does require a literal arsenal of heavy gear, so lug-capacity will be mighty important for a hunting vehicle. You also want something with a powerful engine that won’t experience belt-slip when dealing with the treacherous ground.
Which Is Better: ATV or UTV?
Again, it all comes down to storage. ATV’s are nimble and unencumbered by longer chassis, which will give you a lot more freedom when it comes to turning and negotiating trees or clusters of scrub.
UTVs have wider storage capacity, but are a lot more ungainly on the ground, a lot of them not having sufficient ground clearance. A model like the Arctic Cat Prowler has combined the features of both the UTV and the ATV, resulting in a versatile vehicle for a reasonable price.