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  1. #1

    Hunting Grouse from a UTV

    While hunting for Michigan Sharptailed grouse ( Tympanuchus phasianellis campestris) we used a Yamaha UTV.
    It had rained about 10 inches over the previous 3 weeks in the areas of the cuts I planned to visit. The lands I hunted were full of water. Water flowed down the sandy trails, and every low area was full. It was a mess. The trails were impassable in a pick up.

    My camp has a Rhino, and I decided to try using it to get around in all the water.

    Wow.

    I forded swampy areas 2 feet deep ( Half way up the doors) pushing through at 4-9 mph. Pushing a large wake. Mud up to 1 foot deep offered no resistance other than mess.
    I often had to put my feet on the dash.

    I strapped two dog boxes into the dump box with no problem.
    I stayed to the trails, and parked next to cuts I wished to hunt.

    It increased my areas covered two or three fold, and easily decreased my fatigue by half.
    It is no wonder why they are so commonly used in big country.

    I have been against their use for bird hunting because of the damage to the environment, and the lure of road sluicing. But after having used one, and having seen my effectiveness multiplied, I am reconsidering their use.

    Has anyone here evaluated the various models out there? I'd want plowing abilities, and a heated cab. Gas or diesel is unimportant.
    I believe a UTV might get some of my older friends back in the woods again.
    Wag more, bark less.

  2. #2
    First Class
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Mackay, ID
    Posts
    37
    I have an Arctic Cat Prowler that I use for bird hunting in southwestern Idaho. The country out here is so steep and the roads get so slick when it rains that they become virtually impassable. It used to be that if it rained I would spend all morning and all my energy just walking to the areas I wanted to start hunting. The UTV has changed all that. I only use it on established roads/trails. The Prowler model I have has a flatbed that provides room for a couple of lock boxes for all my gear and a large kennel that can accommodate 2 Brittanys. Unfortunately Arctic Cat only made the flatbed one year (2009). When evaluating different UTVs one criteria I was looking at was engine braking. Some manufacturer's do not include this so you basically freewheel down the steep mountain roads, riding the brakes the whole way. I have a soft cab and doors on mine and also installed a heater with registers on the dash to defrost/defog and registers near the floor. The radiator doesn't put out a lot of heat but it does keep the window defogged. The main thing is we are out of the weather in the enclosed cab. Today was a good example. It snowed most of the day while we were out bird hunting and was snowing hard as we were returning to camp. Feet got a little chilly but we stayed dry. Didn't have to worry about slick conditions or tearing up the road because the low pressure tires just float over it. It really takes a lot of the worry out of trying to beat a storm off the mountain. I almost never drive off road in the pickup anymore. The UTV is far more comfortable on the rough mountain roads and saves wear and tear on the truck.

  3. #3
    Eagle
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Endless Mountains of Pa
    Posts
    2,300
    Greg T.
    As long as you are on private property or you are a crippled Vet they are great, here in Pa the SFL & SGL are out of bounds for them, except in certain designated areas. No motorized vehicles allowed, is just fine with me most of the time.
    RGD/Dave
    Never worry about what others believe, walk in the way of the Lord.

  4. #4
    Orlyn, Are you related to Royce?
    I talked with him one year while out in the sandhills.

    Dave- No outdoorsperson is more rule bound than I. But I am also a realist. There are literally caravans of ATV's on the county roads every weekend now throughout the forests of MI. We have designated trails, and pay fees to protect their environment.
    Make no mistake, the ATV clock isn't going to be turned back in Michigan.

    Most cuts have temporary roads punched in to them in the fall, for winter logging. These temporary roads are excellent pathways between cut over areas. Other cuts are along section roads.
    If a person behaves responsibly, they could access millions of acres, and never have the UTV leave a road bed.

    My interest is heightened because as time goes on, my hunting friends continue to find new excuses to not go. I know it is the burden of old age creeping in. Cold, rain, mud, discomfort, sore legs, all add up to staying inside. A UTV just might ease the burden enough that my pals (or my wife) could come along, and sit in the cab listening to a ball game if they didn't want to take a walk with the dogs.
    Wag more, bark less.

  5. #5
    I'm glad that you were able to salvage you hunt but if it comes down to this, A UTV just might ease the burden enough that my pals (or my wife) could come along, and sit in the cab listening to a ball game if they didn't want to take a walk with the dogs. It's time for the pasture.

  6. #6
    As long as my heart beats, I'll be out there.
    You can rail against technology, but it isn't going away.
    I can't see any reason against a friend opting out of a loop or two over a days hunting. So what if I can go 6hrs/day, and he/she might only be able to do 4. They still get to see the country, and when a little more rested, they can do the next copse. Maybe they aren't as fit as I, or maybe their foot is sore, or their dog is full of burrs. There are lots of reasons that on a day made of 6, 1.25hr loops through the forest, a person might want to sit a couple out.

    For some, the older they get, the more the chance to get out a little means.
    Wag more, bark less.

  7. #7
    First Class
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    38
    Quote Originally Posted by Greg T. View Post
    If a person behaves responsibly, they could access millions of acres, and never have the UTV leave a road bed.
    Ahh, but how many ATV riders on public land act responsibly? I always hear that it is a minority that break the rules, but if that is the case, why does virtually every berm, road closed gate and sign have an ATV trail and a network of spur roads extending well beyond?

    During elk and deer season in the west, it is an arms race to see who can get the furthest into the back country before they have to walk. The animals soon learn to avoid areas with easy access, so the trail cutters push further and further.

    They certainly have there place, but IMHO using them for bird hunting to avoid walking into your hunting areas is a slippery slope.....

  8. #8
    Nearly all of my exposure to ATV/UTV's revolves around big game hunting in the west. I've seen them more than a few times where they weren't supposed to be. I think they entrap their drivers too often into being road hunters.

    I can see their value for say, chukar hunting where you use one instead of a full size 4x4 to go up a two track to gain a ridge line.

  9. #9
    I am confident there is an east/west aspect to this issue.
    My whole state has been logged. It's been surveyed, plotted, transected, divided, whatever you want to call it.
    Because ruffed grouse reach their highest densities in young forest, you might as well hunt the cuts.
    They've been cleared with tracked vehicles, and roads punched in to let the logs be loaded on trucks.
    It looks terrible after a cutting. But, in just 3-4 years, it's a patchwork of grouse heaven.

    A UTV parked on a logging skidder trail isn't making things worse.

    I do understand the fragility of wild lands on thin soils, and hopefully I've been clear about the park and walk aspect of this.

    Also, and it's a little humbling to admit, a new pick up costs 50K. Grinding it's edges off on grown up two tracks isn't that interesting anymore. Weird how that never used to bother me.
    Wag more, bark less.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Noell View Post
    Nearly all of my exposure to ATV/UTV's revolves around big game hunting in the west. I've seen them more than a few times where they weren't supposed to be. I think they entrap their drivers too often into being road hunters.

    I can see their value for say, chukar hunting where you use one instead of a full size 4x4 to go up a two track to gain a ridge line.
    Even there Dave the Rules get abused.
    Several years back a Game and Fish guy I was talking to issued over 80 tickets opening week end mostly to guys hunting Chukar behind their labs in places they should not have been off of ATV's.
    I can see an old guy riding one of those things on two tracks while handling his dogs with out a gun for a friend or two. But for anything other than that it would sicken me if I was to resort to such a thing. No better or worse than road hunting out of a pick up. IMO.

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