Hunting with an ATV/UTV


Active Member
The trusty off road vehicle. Millions own them, billions have been spent on them. Some folks drive them all the way to their stand locations. I have read of some folks hunting from the seat of one.

Others swear that it will alert every deer in 6 counties if you even park one at camp. Some hunting clubs disallow them unless work is being done with them outside hunting time.

I will wait a few posts before I give my opinion and reasons for my belief.

What say you about the ATV ???

Must have tool for me. Help get in and out quickly. I use it for food plot, checking cameras, moving anything in and out of the woods etc. I have been using a Honda 350 Rancher for year just updated this off season to a Polaris 700. I don't park under my stand when i hunt but as soon as i shoot something i walk back and get the atv to bring the deer or hog out. Think of all the deer feeding on the side of the road they don't care that you are driving by if anything they are use to the smell and sounds of vehicles.
Much less of a threat to them than seeing a person on foot, imo. I don't drive all the way to where I will hunt either but probably should, couldn't count the times I've seen them around my utv while on the way out in the evening.
It's all in what they are used to and how they have been used...

I have a deer lease that is surrounded by other deer leases as the guy that leases to all of us owns 15k acres. I hunt near the northern end of our lease and a friend of mine hunts near the eastern boundary. When deer season rolls around I ride my 4 wheeler down the ranch main road to my parking spot and then get off and hike 3/4 mile up the mountain to my stands. I am in my stand usually a good hour before light and just before light I hear all the 4 wheelers on the lease north of me making the mad dash to get to their spot. There is a mountain across from the one I hunt that is relatively the same as mine but the guys ride their wheelers all the way up that mountain whereas I hike up mine. Almost immediately I have deer working their way up a finger ridge from the creek bottom between us as that is where the wheelers go through before heading up their mountain.

When they decide to leave the hunt and start up their ATV a lot of times I have deer in front of me and the deer go on high alert at the noise even though we are 1/2 to 1 mile from the ATV. I honestly believe these guys ride right to their stand and park the ATV and hunt right there with their 4 wheeler under them. We have 1 member on our lease that does exactly that. Rides right up the mountain to his stand and throws a camo cover over it and climbs his ladder. 1 day he asked me if I thought his ATV was keeping him from seeing deer because he wasn't seeing any. I told him to park it in the usual place but to walk about 300 yards around to the point of the ridge and sit down to see what happened. He ended up missing the biggest buck of his life on that first sit and made a firm believer out of him.

For me a ATV/UTV is good for doing work and can be good to get relatively close to your hunting spot if using a main thoroughfare that deer are used to seeing vehicles on but the best way I know to clean every deer off my mountain in a hurry is head up it on a wheeler. Only time my ATV go's up the mountain after July is to retrieve a dead deer. I try to have all stands, mineral sites, etc, in place so we have 2 months of quiet time up there before season begins.

On this big lease operation deer equate 4 wheelers to hunters. Someplace else where wheelers are used year around by a farmer they might do nothing but when you take one into a wilderness setting like we hunt then you might as well bring the entire brass and drum section from your local high school band department.
I use an atv. My son who hunts with me much of the time uses a UTV. We think the effect driving them has on our seeing deer is minimal. One reason is that none of the places we hunt are really remote. Public and private roads and farming activities are close-by.
I have nerve problems with my back and legs due to injury and diabetes. My son has a prosthetic leg. Both of us can get around just fine, but we try to be sensible in having the atv within a reasonable distance. We drive our machines to within about 200-300 yards of where we hunt.
I cant say for sure if having the machine that close is making us see less deer. But the alternative is sitting on the sofa and that aint gonna happen ;)....................... at least not yet.
I always walk into to my stands, but this season I'm split on whether or not I should use it to check my cameras
Without a doubt circumstances would vary with ones situation. Just the opposite of yours, the area I hunt is ag property and not a day goes by without tractors, atv's, etc. being operated in the same areas the deer frequent. I have a farmer friend with an elevated blind who parks his Gator right underneath it, climbs up the steps and always ends up shooting a pretty nice deer every year. The difference being that they see the Gator running around the property on a frequent basis.
I always drive my utv to check my trailcameras, I run 15 or so, always check them mid day, and drive as close as possible to them when circumstances permit. I also shower beforehand, wear clean clothes and use rubber boots, not all that much different than it would be if I were actually hunting.
If my son had his way he would lock em up and hide the keys till after season! At this point in my life I still over rule hime...:D Least I think I do.
I use the atv for fertilizing and seeding and running cameras. My property isn't really set up to where it would be beneficial for me ride it to/near the stand. That being said, my wife and I were working a small plot last September. She was broadcasting seed on area that I had just spread and worked in the fertilizer. I was driving my little Kubota tractor back down to the truck and saw 2 does and three fawns in the thicket watching my wife's every move. They would look away from her occasionally as I drove closer to them, but they never spooked. They were much more interested in her on foot than they were me on the Kubota and I drove within 15 yards of them. I agree that they get acclimated to machinery, be it a tractor on an atv.
I think I stated this in post before but it comes down to how and what you are hunting. If you don't care to kill mature bucks you can probably get away with driving ATV's around in your woods. If you are wanting to consistently kill mature bucks it will never happen if driving ATV's into the woods or for that matter going in and out on a daily basis with no regard of wind and the like. In my area of farm country you can get away running an ATV along the edge of a field to check cameras but if you were in and out of the woods on an ATV the mature deer will move out of the area. I have an excellent example of people running in and out of the woods everyday. I had leased a couple farms with some guys from Florida last year. These guys did not hunt even similar to the way that I hunted but said they were willing to learn because they wanted to kill a 140" buck for the first time in their life. Myself and another buddy hunted one of the farms and left this other 80 acre farm for the Florida guys. Meanwhile these guys head into the stand and back to the truck by 9 am most days then back in at 3 pm and sit the rest of the day. They paid not attention wind directions. Of course the first couple days they were seeing some bucks and several deer. By the end of the first week they were seeing a few doe and fawns. By the end of the second week they were not seeing the first deer which has never happened to me on a hunt in that woods. I always saw deer, not one hunt was I ever skunked. That 3rd weekend shotgun season came around. I am sitting in a stand about 1/4 mile away on a different farm. Boom I hear a shot, boom boom. 3 shots ring out I text him to congratulate him and he rep.lies with i didn't get one I was just shooting at some coyotes out across the field. Now mind you I am all for killing coyotes but not opening morning of gun season within the first hour of daylight. So they came complaining to me that there were no bucks on that farm, although from August through October I had numerous bucks on camera and a couple of decent shooters. Whether it is ATVs or guys even walking in and out a mature buck will not tolerate it at all and even fawns will not tolerate more than a couple times.

By the way that is 4 straight years neither of them has killed a buck in Illinois. I see a pattern there.
Right now I our hunting is limited to a farm we hunt in the upper peninsula so we only get about a week of hunting (the gun opener here in Michigan) each year. ATV is used to take out a few blinds/stands a few days before the opener and to take down before we leave. Any deer shot in the woods we usually drag to the edge of the woods and pick up with the ATV after everyone is out of the woods. Deer shot in the field get picked up anytime.
Farm I hunt is also a cattle farm and we try to keep wheeler traffic to the same locations where they run all year and walk into stands. 5 of the 6 bucks killed last year were all within 30 yards of a field edge. Kinda goes back to the other thread about conditioning deer. Changes in human patterns will have an impact on deer patterns. Extent will very with extent of changes and with individual deer. At least that is my experience.
I ride atvs all season up until labor day. After labor day, no atvs except to retrieve a downed deer. After dark
As some have said above on our working farm deer see ATV's and Rangers everyday. I don't believe they associate them with danger. As long as you keep it moving I have drove right by bedded bucks without having them even stand up. When you stop they tend to get nervous. All depends on what your deer are used to, if they only see ATVs when they get shot at then yes they might be a little jumpy!
As some have said above on our working farm deer see ATV's and Rangers everyday. I don't believe they associate them with danger. As long as you keep it moving I have drove right by bedded bucks without having them even stand up. When you stop they tend to get nervous. All depends on what your deer are used to, if they only see ATVs when they get shot at then yes they might be a little jumpy!

The deer in our area only see ATV's when deer season is in full swing...Definitely equate ATV to danger...

I...could...use my ATV more on our place but when all of my neighbors only use them while hunting I would kind of rather they be spooked by ATV sound... I have actually walked up on more deer on our place than I have seen on any type of motorized contraption... I should probably use my tractor more in there since the neighbors don't have any...
My land is very secluded and I tried driving my truck around the first year. Second year I walked every where from base camp. Third year I used an electric golf cart. Best decision I've ever made for hunting my farm. I can drive up to pick up hunters and I scare them because they don't hear me coming on the electric cart.