Here are the top four side-by-sides for hunting.
In the market for an off-road UTV for hunting this season? It’s a great idea as a utility vehicle like this is the ultimate hunting tool. A vehicle like this makes it easy to get your tree stands and blinds in place.
It also makes it easy to get that big whitetail buck out of the woods at the conclusion of your hunt.
These are our top four choices for the best UTV off-road vehicles on the market for hunting today.
Outfitted with a 976 cc Rotax V-twin engine, the The Can-Am Defenders have 82 horsepower. Which should be more than enough for wherever your hunting adventures take you. These machines come with 13 inches of ground clearance and a wide, 83-inch wheelbase to keep it stable on the back trails.
The suspension of these UTVs features arched double A-arms in the front and arched TTA in the back along with twin-tube, gas-charged shocks to soak up the ruts, bumps and rocks on the way to your favorite hunting spot.
Can-Am offers the defender in several different models to fit a variety of hunting styles and budgets. We appreciate how many of them come with a 4,500-pound winch system standard. The “Mossy Oak Edition” features big, rugged 28-inch tires on 14-inch wheels.
This vehicle has a payload capacity of 1,500 pounds and towing capacity of 2,500. Can-Am also builds a six-wheel model of the Defender with an increased towing capacity of 3,000 pounds and a payload capacity of 1,700. The cargo box area is also significantly increased on this model, the Defender 6×6 DPS. The 6×6 also has selectable 4WD or 6WD.
All the Defender models have a 10-gallon fuel tank ensures you can get back to those remote spots to where the big bucks and bulls are hiding. Can-Am also offers a ton of add-on accessories including gun boxes and racks, GPS units, coolers to transport your harvest and even track systems to replace the standard tires.
Honda Pioneer 1000
These side-by-sides have a sharp look and the features to go with it. The Pioneer is powered by a 999cc liquid-cooled twin four stroke engine. This machine has what Honda calls their I-4WD system, which means “intelligent” four-wheel-drive. This is a brake and traction control system meant to give the traction of a locked differential to a UTV vehicle.
Another interesting feature is a dual-clutch transmission that allows you drive in manual or automatic mode. Honda also incorporated a “sport” mode into this model. It seems they foresaw the owners of this machine would be buying it for both work in the field and play with trail riding.
The 2020 Pioneer 1000 has a 2000-pound towing capacity and 1000-pound cargo capacity, so you should have no issues getting your harvest out with one, no matter how large it may be. This machine’s suspension doesn’t have as much travel as the Can-Am’s. The double-wishbone on the front and rear offer 10.6 inches of suspension travel in the front and 10 inches in the back. The Pioneer also has a significantly smaller fuel tank at 8 gallons.
However, budget-wise, the Honda is one of the more affordable three-seat side-by-sides on the market today. The standard Honda Pioneer 1000 starts with an MSRP of $15,799. That could leave some room in the budget for some aftermarket gun racks and storage boxes for all the equipment and odds and ends you’ll need while hunting.
Yamaha Wolverine X2
If you live in an area where the hunting terrain is rough, the Wolverine is a side by side UTV to consider. Under the hood is an 847cc liquid-cooled parallel-twin engine. It features a wide, 83-inch wheelbase and 2000-pound towing capacity. The bed capacity is slightly smaller at only 600 pounds.
The Wolverine has double wishbone independent suspension which offers 8.7 inches of travel in front and 9.3 inches in the rear suspension. It sits on top of 26-inch Maxxis tires which should eat up most rough terrain out there. The fuel tank is 9.2 gallons to ensure you can stay out longer.
The Wolverine may be the most technologically connected UTV side-by-side all terrain vehicle on the market right now. Yamaha pre-wires all their machines for their optional “Adventure Pro” system, which is powered by a Magellan GPS unit. The Adventure Pro is 7-inch color monitor. Thankfully they thought to include pre-loaded maps with lifetime updates, but this device also allows you to connect the Wolverine to WiFi and Bluetooth. It even connects to Facebook and Twitter if you want to share your adventures with the world.
For those looking for a serious hunting machine, the Wolverine is available in Realtree camo patterns and offers a variety of accessory skid plates, tires, hard doors, windshields and brush guards to suit any style of hunting. Another nice feature for 2020 is that Yamaha incorporated a speed governor which allows you to lock the top speed at 25 mph. Great for teaching kids to drive or treacherous trails where more speed may be dangerous.
Polaris RANGER XP 1000
We’ve been loving the RANGER for a while now. It’s a workhorse of a vehicle that is equally at home driving the trails for fun and while working to haul a big buck in its spacious cargo bed. The liquid-cooled RANGER features a 999cc, four-stroke twin engine that helps give it a 2,500-pound tow rating. The three-seat models have a huge 1,500-pound payload capacity.
The dual A-arm suspension of these machines soaks up every rut and bump nicely while offering 10 inches of travel. The power steering makes a true joy to drive. Polaris also makes sure you don’t have to worry about running out of gas when heading out by making an 11-gallon fuel tank standard.
The RANGER also has an awesome optional “Pro Shield” cab system that allows you to stay completely dry and warm out of the elements.
That leads us to another cool thing Polaris did this year to make the RANGER even better. They teamed up with pro hunters Tony Vandemore and Lee & Tiffany Lakosky to make accessory collections specifically geared towards either big game or waterfowl hunting. For instance, the Vandemore waterfowl accessory collection comes with extra storage racks and boxes for decoys and ammo and a set of mud tires specifically for the fields and swamps where the birds are.
The Lakosky big-game collection recognizes that deer and other big-game hunters are often fighting some rough elements. The kit puts in an 8-vent heater and defrost for those especially crisp mornings and evenings. It also adds a Kolpin Rhino grip system for carrying your bows or rifles.