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Sun. Dec. 17, 10:00 AM ET

How to Find the Right UTV for Hunting Whitetails

It's no secret that side-by-side all-terrain vehicles, or UTVs, have become a part of the hunting landscape in a major way. They are great tools for land and wildlife management, and for traveling into the areas in which we hunt.

Like rifles, shotguns and bows, there is no shortage of brands and models to choose from. And just like buying a new bow, it ultimately comes down to personal taste.

First things first

You wouldn’t go down to the local feed store to buy a new bow, would you? Well, maybe if they had a full-line archery pro shop, but I digress.

You’re more than likely going to go to an archery pro shop to get the right bow that fits you and have it set up for you correctly, right? Not to knock on feed stores, but that is not the place to go buying a UTV, even though they do often sell them and the prices seem awfully attractive.

The fact of the matter is this — you really should go to a regular dealership to buy a new UTV. The major brands that are sold only through dealer networks have the latest in proven designs, factory warranties and, perhaps the most important factor, a trained service department stocked with parts when something inevitably breaks.

We'll break things down into the major areas of interest when it comes to buying a UTV — engine size, suspension, cargo capacity, passenger room and cost. I know for many of you that last one is a real sticker, but let’s look at it from a perspective of getting the very most for your money.

Engine size

So how big of an engine do you really need? You can find UTVs with engine sizes ranging from less than 400cc’s all the way up to 1,000cc’s. There is an old saying that goes, “There’s no replacement for displacement,” meaning that bigger engines are always better. That’s not always the case.

You want to get enough engine size to do what you routinely want and need to do, without putting a major strain on the engine. It’s when you overwork the engine that it starts breaking down faster. If you do a lot of plowing, either snow or dirt, then you really should consider a bigger engine, something in the 700-class or bigger. If you're not planning on a lot of work, save some money and go with a smaller machine.

You'll hear a lot of debate about single-cylinder engines vs. V-twins. Some folks swear up and down that if you don’t have a twin, you’re not going to be happy.

It’s a toss-up really. A V-twin, like a Can-Am Commander 800, or Kawasaki Teryx 800 is going to be smooth, and powerful. A big single-cylinder, like the Yamaha Viking, Wolverine, or Honda’s Pioneer 700 is going to offer a ton of low-end torque.

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