Choosing ATVs and Other Off-Road Vehicles for the Farm

Now more than ever, ATVs and the multitude of attachments on the market can make your “4-wheeler” a true workhorse.


| March/April 2016



Remote

Remote locations aren’t a problem with help from an ATV.

Photo by maXximages.com/Steve Woit

It’s been about 18 years since my wife and I purchased 80 acres of rural land. I enjoy hunting and the outdoors, but we also shared an interest in clearing some fields for wildlife food plots, and we wanted to try our hand at growing grapes and planting a larger garden.

To accomplish some of our goals, I knew I’d need to add some equipment and implements to the toolshed. I already owned an old Ford tractor, a disc, and a spring tooth, but I convinced my wife that to be able to get to the hilly, hard-to-reach places on our land, we absolutely “needed” an all-terrain vehicle (ATV). Of course, “needed” and “wanted” were probably somewhat interchangeable in my case, but I must have been convincing, because she gave me her blessing to go out and buy one.

Eighteen years ago, there weren’t as many decisions to make when it came to purchasing an ATV, and the first versions of the side-by-side utility task vehicle (UTV) were just starting to enter the market. At the time, I opted for a smaller 300cc ATV that had clutchless shifting with the standard front and rear racks for hauling additional gear. I mounted a ball-hitch receiver to the ATV, and I was able to attach a trailer to range far back into the woods to cut and haul firewood. The ATV also came in handy for carrying fencing supplies as I developed our land. I added a small front blade for plowing snow, and I also used the “4-wheeler” to pull an old drag to even out our gravel driveway.

During hunting season, the ATV was a great companion, and saved me backbreaking work when it came time to haul game. In later years, as I started to develop my wildlife food plots, I added a rotary fertilizer spreader that mounted to the ATV, and also a tow-behind sprayer to kill weeds in the fields and ditches. I don’t own any livestock, but I know many ranchers and farmers who depend on their ATVs to reach back pastures and cover large open range to check on cattle, sheep and other livestock in all types of weather conditions and terrain. Front-mounted mowers on ATVs also make mowing some hillsides less dangerous. Although I might have been able to get by without the ATV, it has proven to be a workhorse in both my leisure and work time.

If you are thinking about purchasing an ATV or UTV, you will find that there are a lot of considerations to think through. Do I purchase an ATV, or is a UTV the most practical for me? How much horsepower do I need? What kind of attachments should I look for, and if I have to haul it around, do I need a trailer? Read on, and I’ll try to address some of these questions for you.

ATVs

ATVs are much more agile than a UTV, and are great for getting into tight places and narrow trails. ATVs require physical exertion when driving them, which means you have to control things like balance and maneuvering, although with some of the options today, ergonomics are improving that all the time. Some “4-wheeler” models today are even equipped with rollover protective structures and doors. ATVs are mainly designed for single-rider use, but can accommodate two people in some cases depending on the configuration. They are easily towed with a small trailer if you need to travel with them, and with the proper accessories, they can often be hauled in the back of a standard-size pickup truck.





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