Pickup trucks have had a big impact on my life, but they can also have a big impact on terrain, which is often a good reason to look toward a much lighter vehicle to get to and from sensitive hunting areas.
I was hunting ducks on the Mississippi Delta a few years ago with guides who were also farmers—they had hundreds of acres planted in Rice and soy. During the winter, these guys go on the fields only with their Polaris ATVs. Tractors and pickups are too heavy, too vulnerable to getting stuck and too destructive to the rain-soaked land.
Many hunting situations require smaller vehicles to minimize impact, to fit on the trails and to transport gear and game in extreme conditions. Whether contemplating your first ATV/ UTV purchase, looking to update or curious about what’s new, start by going to your local Polaris dealer to see the greatest variety of models. One stop can give you a great sample of the types of machines available for today’s hunter.
Take the popular Polaris RZR lineup as an example—starting with the 570 and 800 Trail models. These comfortable, 50-inch-wide side-by-sides can fit on quad trails and have a suspension built for rough terrain. But the RZRs also come in wider “S” models for improved stability, four-seater versions and in 900XP configurations for high performance.
For more traditional hunters, there are a dozen different Polaris Ranger utility side-by-side options, which are easier to get in and out of for hunting areas with multiple gates to open and close. They also have more cargo capacity. You can get pickup-fitting, mid-sized models in 400, 500 and 800 versions, as well as all-electric power plants. The mid-frame version is also available in a four-seat crew model.
You can also step up to full-sized models with gas or diesel engines. Configurations include a three-seater, six-man crew model and a swamp busting 6x6 (gas only). The Ranger XP900 offers the most power, along with an amazing suspension system. In addition, Polaris co-developed BRUTUS, a line of diesel-powered commercial utility vehicles with a full array of PTO and hydraulic-powered implements.
Polaris has been building quads since the mid-’80s. Their commitment to listening to their customers, along with their willingness to try new things, has resulted in some great innovations for hunters. The X2 550, for example, has a longer wheel base to safely accommodate two riders, with an elevated passenger seat, dedicated foot rests and backrest. But it can instantly convert to one rider mode with a dump box for additional cargo capacity.
SPORTSMAN BIG BOSS 800 6X6
If you want maximum cargo capacity from an ATV, check out the Big Boss 6x6, which has an extra set of wheels, making it a true six-wheel-drive with extra box and towing capacity to match. The box can haul up to 800 pounds, which makes it ideal for outfitting, big game transport or food plot work. Integrated storage below the front rack lets you stow more gear and still have access to it, even with items tied to the deck.
With 1,500 pounds of towing capacity, the Big Boss is a workhorse around the hunt club, job site, ranch or farm. A full 10½ inches of ground clearance reduces high-centering on rough terrain, even when hauling heavy loads. All six wheels articulate independently for maximum traction in changing terrain.
SPORTSMAN XP 850
A twin-cylinder, high-output EFI engine with SOHC powers the XP 850, which delivers outstanding acceleration off the line along with plenty of hill-climbing and cargo-hauling power. The Polaris Active Descent Control and Engine Braking System work together at speeds of less than 15 mph to monitor and control downhill braking for optimum control and smooth, even deceleration during descents.
The 850’s Lock and Ride front and rear racks can carry a combined 360 pounds. The racks also accept a number of Polaris accessories, or you can simply strap your load to the racks.
Because the engine is oriented 90 degrees to standard setups, riders get 33 percent wider floorboards and narrow vehicle width at the knees and ankles, which reduce leg fatigue and increases rider comfort.
RANGER CREW 800
We’ve tested the Polaris Ranger Crew 800 in a variety of hunting situations and it really carries six adults comfortably with leaned seatbacks and plenty of legroom. The long wheel base and more than 9 inches of suspension travel help the Ranger Crew absorb bumps and ruts even when carrying the whole crew, yet it’s surprisingly quick and easy to maneuver.
A pallet-size rear dump box features a gas-assist dumping operation and accommodates the Polaris Lock and Ride cargo system with accessories that go on and off in seconds. Additional in-cab storage includes an oversize glove box, three open compartments and a large storage box under the front seat with a 28-gallon capacity.
RANGER 500 EFI
Built for two people on the Polaris mid-size chassis, the Ranger 500 EFI is more affordable, easier to maneuver, easier to transport and to store than the full-size models. It can be hauled in the bed of many full-size pickups that have adequate cargo capacity.
Some hunt club managers will appreciate the Ranger’s speed control. A black ignition key maximizes engine power and top speed, while a yellow key lowers the top speed to 23 mph. The 500’s rear box can haul up to 500 pounds and has gas-assist dumping operation.
Designed and built by North American hunters, most Polaris models are available in camo patterns. Check out the large variety of Polaris hunting machines at your local dealer or on online at Polaris.com.