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A Guide to Hunting ATV Accessories
The popularity of ATVs shows no sign of waning among gun hunters and bowhunters, and no wonder. These workhorses can carry or tow an incredible amount. They’re easy to operate and, when handled responsibly and driven on established trails, they’re totally safe as well.
Some say ATVs have taken the place of the horse. They're being used by hunters to haul hunting gear in and pack meat out. Many owners also use them on family farms, in oil and gas exploration and in search and rescue. In short, about anything you could use a horse, a truck or a garden tractor for, there’s someone doing the job with an ATV.
That being the case, it’s not surprising there are a wide variety of ATV accessories available, too. Many add-ons are available to help these machines take on more diverse tasks and make riding an ATV more safe, comfortable and fun. Here are some of them.
ATV Safety Gear
Helmets and other ATV safety gear should be foremost on any list of ATV accessories. When riding on top of a vehicle instead of inside, as is the case with ATVs, the rider needs to protect his head, eyes and other body parts in case of accident.
Helmets should be made of lightweight thermoplastic or other materials that meet or exceed Department of Transportation safety standards. Good ones also have vents to prevent the wearer from getting too hot and sweaty, and pads inside to protect the head from chafing and bumps. Be sure the helmet is the proper size, too, so it can be worn properly. A wide variety of styles and colors are available, including models with camouflage patterns.
The best goggles are scratch- and fog-resistant types that are optically correct. Those constructed to allow a wide field of vision also will be appreciated, as will goggles with quick-adjust straps and extras such as dust filters.
Also essential for every ATV user is a good loading ramp that allows the owner to quickly and safely drive an ATV onto a trailer or truck. And of course, when transporting a vehicle from one location to another, the owner needs to use one of the many adjustable tie-down devices that keep an ATV secure during the drive.
Other ATV safety gear to consider includes protective clothing, tire repair kits for the backcountry, ATV bumpers that provide extra protection from trail hazards and heat protectors to cover hot exhaust parts that could cause burns.
ATV Hitches and Receivers
All sorts of hitches are available for the ATV enthusiast—everything from simple ball models to quad hitches with extra tow loops—so the ATV can be used to pull everything from a plow to a garden cart. Consider starting with the addition of a multi-receiver with a hitch box that permits quick change-out of different ball sizes. Hitch extenders also are available to allow clearance for safe turning and operation while pulling equipment behind an ATV.
Most ATV users wouldn’t be caught in the woods without a good winch for getting out of a sticky situation or hauling in a heavy load. The best have plenty of pulling power—1800-3000 pounds or more—plus a good braking system, durable wire rope cable and other quality components. ATV Accessories that increase the utility of a winch include handle-bar-mounted rocker switches, handheld remotes and a good roller fairlead that reduces wear on your cable. Be sure to purchase the proper mounting kit for the winch as well—one that matches the brand of ATV you own.
Convenient ATV Add-ons
An ATV’s carrying space can be maximized with the addition of racks, which come in a wide variety of styles and sizes. Some must be mounted with hardware, while others are easy-on, easy-off models that mount into a receiver hitch. These increase the carrying capacity of the ATV and are ideal for hauling firewood, coolers, hunting gear, camping equipment and more.
Want extra comfort? Add a throttle extender so for revving up the ATV with the whole palm of the hand and not just the thumb, or replace rough handlebar grips with gel models that relieve shock and fatigue. Put a drink holder where it’s handy, or jazz up lighting with halogen trail lights made in durable off-road designs.
There are products that can be added to an exhaust system to reduce excess noise, and others you can attach to an ATV to carry extra fuel or water. Mount a spotlight to help find downed game at night or a special holder to secure a GPS, cell phone or VHS radio. The variety of convenience accessories now available seems almost endless.
Specialty ATV Accessories
Many ATV accessories are manufactured specifically for hunters. The list is impressive indeed, including winches, gun racks, bow racks, cargo/storage bags and organizers, camouflage covers, trailers and treestand transporters. You can even add a passenger cart that permits you to carry extra friends or family on a single ATV to your hunting blind or other destination.
The bottom line is this: almost every accessory imaginable is available for ATVs. And there’s almost no end to the ways an ATV can be customized to make it work better.