best hunting UTV

Get Moving on the Best Hunting Off-Road UTVs

In the market for an off-road UTV for hunting this season? It's a great idea, as a utility vehicle like this is the ultimate hunting tool. A vehicle like this makes it easy to get your tree stands and blinds in place. It's hunting season—nobody wants to wear themselves out hiking to their hunting spots for maintenance. You want to wear yourself out hiking there to hunt! For many, an off-road UTV is a perfect way to maintain your location and stamina during hunting season.

It also makes it easy to get that big whitetail buck out of the woods after your hunt. We could go on and on. But you don't have the time, which is exactly why you're here looking for wheels. These are our top four choices for the best UTV off-road vehicles on the market for hunting today.

Can-Am Defender

Outfitted with a 976 cc Rotax V-twin engine, The Can-Am Defenders have 82 horsepower, which should be more than enough for wherever your hunting adventures take you. These machines have 13 inches of ground clearance and a wide, 83-inch wheelbase to keep them stable on the back trails.

The suspension of these UTVs features arched double A-arms in the front and arched TTA in the back. We haven't even mentioned the twin-tube, gas-charged shocks to soak up the ruts, bumps, and rocks on the way to your favorite hunting spot.

Can-Am offers the Defender in several models to fit various hunting styles and budgets. We appreciate how many of them come with a 4,500-pound winch system standard. The "Mossy Oak Edition" features big, rugged 28-inch tires on 14-inch wheels.

This vehicle has a payload capacity of 1,500 pounds and towing capacity of 2,500. Can-Am also builds a six-wheel model of the Defender with an increased towing capacity of 3,000 pounds and a payload capacity of 1,700. The cargo box area is also significantly improved on this model, the Defender 6x6 DPS. The 6x6 also has selectable 4WD or 6WD.

All the Defender models have a 10-gallon fuel tank, which ensures you can get back to those remote spots where the big bucks and bulls are hiding. Can-Am also offers add-on accessories: gun boxes and racks, GPS units, coolers to transport your harvest, and even track systems to replace the standard tires.

Honda Pioneer 1000

These side-by-sides have a sharp look and the features to go with them. A 999cc liquid-cooled twin four-stroke engine powers the Pioneer. This machine has what Honda calls its I-4WD system, which means "intelligent" four-wheel drive. This is a brake and traction control system meant to give the traction of a locked differential to a UTV vehicle.

Another exciting feature is a dual-clutch transmission that allows you to drive in manual or automatic mode. Honda also incorporated a "sport" mode into this model. It seems they foresaw the owners of this machine would be buying it for both work in the field and play with trail riding.

The 2020 Pioneer 1000 has a 2000-pound towing capacity and 1000-pound cargo capacity. So you should have no issues getting your harvest out with one, no matter how large it may be. This machine's suspension doesn't have as much travel as the Can-Am's. The double-wishbone on the front and rear offer 10.6 inches of suspension travel in the front and 10 inches in the back. The Pioneer also has a significantly smaller fuel tank at 8 gallons.

However, budget-wise, the Honda is one of the more affordable three-seat side-by-sides on the market today. The standard Honda Pioneer 1000 starts with an MSRP of $15,799. That could leave some room in the budget for aftermarket gun racks and storage boxes for all the equipment and odds and ends you'll need while hunting.

Yamaha Wolverine X2

If you live in an area where the hunting terrain is rough, the Wolverine is a side-by-side UTV to consider. Under the hood is an 847cc liquid-cooled parallel-twin engine. It features a wide, 83-inch wheelbase and 2000-pound towing capacity. The bed capacity is slightly smaller at only 600 pounds. The Wolverine has double wishbone independent suspension, which offers 8.7 inches of travel in the front and 9.3 inches in the rear suspension. It sits on top of 26-inch Maxxis tires, which should eat up most rough terrain. The fuel tank is 9.2 gallons to ensure you can stay out longer.

The Wolverine may be the most technologically connected UTV side-by-side all-terrain vehicle on the market. Yamaha pre-wires all their machines for their optional "Adventure Pro" system, which is powered by a Magellan GPS unit. The Adventure Pro is a 7-inch color monitor. Thankfully they thought to include pre-loaded maps with lifetime updates. Still, this device also allows you to connect the Wolverine to WiFi and Bluetooth. It even connects to Facebook and Twitter if you want to share your adventures with the world.

The Wolverine is available in Realtree camo patterns and offers a variety of accessories. These include skid plates, tires, hard doors, windshields, and brush guards to suit any hunting style. Another nice feature for 2020 is that Yamaha incorporated a speed governor, which allows you to lock the top speed at 25 mph. Great for teaching kids to drive on treacherous trails where more speed may be dangerous.

Oh, and it might be named after the coolest Marvel Comics character. Can we prove that? No. But belief is a powerful and important tool.

Polaris RANGER XP 1000

We've been loving the RANGER for a while now. It's a workhorse of a vehicle that is equally at home driving the trails for fun while working to haul a big buck in its spacious cargo bed. The liquid-cooled RANGER features a 999cc, four-stroke twin engine that helps give it a 2,500-pound tow rating. The three-seat models have a substantial 1,500-pound payload capacity.

The dual A-arm suspension of these machines soaks up every rut and bump nicely while offering 10 inches of travel. The power steering makes it a true joy to drive. Polaris also makes sure you don't have to worry about running out of gas when heading out by making an 11-gallon fuel tank standard.

The RANGER also has an excellent optional "Pro Shield" cab system that lets you stay completely dry and warm out of the elements.

That leads us to another cool thing Polaris did this year to make the RANGER even better. They teamed up with pro hunters Tony Vandemore and Lee & Tiffany Lakosky to create accessory collections geared towards either big game or waterfowl hunting. For instance, the Vandemore waterfowl accessory collection comes with extra storage racks and boxes for decoys and ammo and a set of mud tires specifically for the fields and swamps where the birds are.

The Lakosky big-game collection recognizes that deer and other big-game hunters are often fighting some rough elements. The kit puts in an 8-vent heater and defrosts for those exceptionally crisp mornings and evenings. It also adds a Kolpin Rhino grip system for carrying your bows or rifles.

This article was originally published on October 12, 2019. 

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