Whether you use it to lug bucks from the backwoods to your property or simply require a bit of quick transportation from point A to point B, an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) can be a hunter’s best friend.
Over the years, hunters have adopted the ATV as an essential piece of gear, one which shows up on the same shopping lists that include treestands, hunting knives, rangefinders, and more. There’s a reason: instead of taking a massive pick-up truck rumbling into the wild, hunters can now simply jump on an ATV and zoom off to their favorite stand or blind. The trip to the hunting spot can be as fun as the hunting itself.
However, ATVs aren’t all good in what they bring to hunting. While ATVs can be a great method for transporting a tree stand or harvesting a buck, they are also extremely loud and, if you are using a gas-powered model, extremely smelly. Many hunters have added an ATV to their hunting arsenal only to find that, when they try to use it for hunting transportation purposes, they end up spooking every deer within a one or two mile radius of their tree stand or ground blind.
This kind of situation can lead many hunters to feel cheated and frustrated. Why would publications tout ATVs as ideal deer hunting equipment if they scare all the deer?
The answer, of course, is that many a hunter has figured out a way to use an ATV in a way that helps their hunting success rather than hinders it. But what’s the secret? Do they park their ATV somewhere a mile away and then trudge the rest of the distance to their hunting spot on foot? Most of us would feel a bit weird about leaving our ATV sitting in some random spot, especially on public property, but even on private land. No one wants to be wandering around after dark looking for an ATV. In fact, the real charm behind even having an ATV is that, once it’s time to go home or to lug a deer or a tree stand back home, your transportation is handy and ready to go.
No, the key to success with an ATV is not trying to hide its loud motor and gasoline smell from the deer, but rather to expose the deer to those sounds and smells on such a regular basis that they no longer view them as an abnormality or a threat. In other words, don’t go driving into your favorite hunting spot for the first time on opening day.
Instead, make it a point of season preparation to condition deer into ignoring your vehicle. Drive your way to the stand a few weeks before the season starts to make sure everything is ready to go for your hunts.
Drive your ATV around to check your trail cameras; use it to map out food plots and drinking spots. And if you have no preparatory reason to go into the woods, just drive your ATV through them once or twice for the sheer fun of the adventure.
The deer herds in the area property will likely learn not to associate the ATV with danger, and will therefore be unfazed when you show up with it during the season to do some shooting and harvesting.