Utility Vehicles For Sportsmen

The newest models provide plenty of power, room and versatility to help you tackle the outdoors. (January 2007)

Utility vehicles (UTVs) are growing in popularity with hunters and anglers, thanks to their ease of operation and versatility in the field. Today's UTVs operate like an automobile with foot throttles and steering wheels, and are now available in a wide range of models from several companies.

Here is a look at some of the options for sportsmen.

Kawasaki Mule

The four-wheel-drive 3010 is the most popular for deer hunters. The newest model is the 3010 Trans4x4, an off-road utility vehicle with all the attributes of former Mules. It can also be transformed in a matter of minutes from a two-passenger vehicle with cargo capacity to a four-person vehicle, allowing you to haul more than one buddy to the blind or stand in bench-style seats. In addition, there's still plenty of cargo space for gear. With the rear seat folded down and the front of the bed moved forward, creating seating for two, the rear cargo space is 48 by 50 inches. With the rear seat up, the cargo space is 38 by 38 inches. The wheelbase is 11.6 inches longer than the traditional Mule 3010. The liquid-cooled industrial V-twin engine provides plenty of power, yet is extremely quiet. The Kawasaki Continuously Variable Transmission makes the Mule 3010 Trans4x4 easy to drive. Engine braking, important when going downhill, is extremely good.

Bobcat 2200

The Bobcat 2200 utility 4x4 follows in Bobcat's industrial equipment shoes. It has automatic locking differentials that engage immediately when one wheel loses traction. The IntelliTrak system provides power to all four wheels as needed. This prevents one, two or three wheels from spinning without the fourth. There is no need to stop the vehicle to change the traction, and the IntelliTrak system makes turning easy because the automatic locking differentials disengage during turning. The adjustable seats are high-backed and bucket, while the all-aluminum tubular frame is lightweight but durable. The diesel model has a Kubota 20-horsepower diesel engine, but there is no engine braking.

Kubota RTV900R Diesel

Another tractor manufacturer has jumped into the utility vehicle market with a powerful 21.6-horsepower, three-cylinder, water-cooled diesel engine model. These diesel engines can burn up to one-third less than the same size gas engines, and top speed is 21 mph. Diesel engines, however, are louder than gas engines. The Kubota vehicle utilizes its Variable Hydro Transmission, the same as on its tractors. This provides great performance, regardless of the conditions. There is great pulling power with this vehicle, making it ideal for larger food-plot operations, and engine braking is extremely good.

The large cargo bed has a load rating of 1,102 pounds or will handle 16 cubic feet. The vehicle features a bench seat that is extremely comfortable. A roll-over protection system (ROPS) and double seat belts come standard. A mesh screen on the rear adds more protection, and the reinforced steel front bumper is extremely tough.

John Deere Trail Gator HPX 4x4

John Deere Trail Gators have been around for a long time and found popularity with farmers and ranchers, but the newer version is more attuned to off-road conditions that deer hunters experience. The HPX 4x4 features a 20-horsepower, four-cycle Kawasaki gasoline engine with a two-range transmission that has great low-speed pulling power. The bucket seats are comfortable, and the driver's seat is adjustable. Extremely rugged front and rear suspension and a sturdy steel frame create a rough, tough vehicle.

The vehicle has a 1,300-pound payload capacity, so it can haul plenty of stuff. The dump bed is made of heavy-duty steel with a hinged tailgate. Bucket seats with cup holders and a small gear shelf located between the seats provide a comfortable ride. Shifting between two and four wheel is done with a lever located in the center of the dash. Rack and pinion steering makes handling easy.

Bad Boy Buggy

The Bad Boy Buggy is a unique UTV. The vehicle features two 15.4-horsepower electric motors powered by eight six-volt Trojan batteries and a 1,000-amp controller that controls the torque provided by the motors. According to the company, you can travel up to 20 miles at up to 18 miles per hour on a single charge. A charge meter provides information on fuel left. Fast on top end, the vehicle can also creep along quiet and slow. It features an electronic engine braking system that works quite well. Push a button on the dash to immediately slow down the engine. An extremely versatile vehicle, the rear seat folds up so four people can ride, with two facing rearward. Folding the rear seat forward creates a cargo space for gear or hauling your deer out. A rack is built in to tote tree stands. The vehicle has fairly high ground clearance and an 800-pound load capacity.

Cub Cadet Big Country 4x2

Featuring an 18-horsepower Honda V-twin OHV engine, the 4x2 has a continuously variable transmission with differential lock in four-wheel drive. Shifting and differential locking are both done by pushing a button on the dash. The all-welded steel frame is extremely sturdy. Bucket seats with molded-in cup holders and a small accessory box complete the cockpit area. Seats fold forward and the driver's seat is adjustable, with a roomy storage box under the passenger seat. The bed has an 800-pound load capacity, and total load capacity is 1,200 pounds. Slots in the bed sides make it easy to use tie-downs.

Pug Frontier 4x4

The rugged PUG Frontier offers 4-wheel-drive dependability with storage u

nder the hood, under the seat, and in a unique cargo box. That allows you to easily haul several deer stands into the woods, or transport bags of seed and fertilizer to remote food plots.

With a smooth ride, rapid acceleration and a narrow profile, it's a versatile vehicle with plenty of room for an extra passenger or outdoor gear..

Editor's Note: The Field & Stream Guide to ATVs, by Monte Burch, is available from Amazon.com and Lyons Press.

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