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A new tool

By DAN GEDDINGS
Outdoor contributor
Posted 7/5/20

I had not been on one in nearly 30 years. The rapid acceleration surprised me, and the deceleration was equally rapid. But I knew it would be like riding a bicycle; once you learn, it stays with you. I knew that all it would take was a little …

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A new tool

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I had not been on one in nearly 30 years. The rapid acceleration surprised me, and the deceleration was equally rapid. But I knew it would be like riding a bicycle; once you learn, it stays with you. I knew that all it would take was a little practice to get the feeling of control back. And it did come back.

My new machine is wide and sits fairly low to the ground. It has four-wheel drive, a winch on the front, an auxiliary pull start and has plenty of power. It is a Polaris Sportsman 500 All-Terrain Vehicle. Also known as an ATV or four-wheeler.

After seeing the results that a fellow club member got with his four-wheeler and a borrowed disk on one of our food plots, I decided right then and there that I would get a four-wheeler and some of the implements needed to help manage our hunting land. I've already bought a seed and fertilizer spreader. I'm planning on getting a sprayer and a scrape blade.

Shannon's machine plowed the ground as good as any full-sized tractor. I had seen magazine articles and outdoor shows for years that advocated using four-wheelers to work food plots, but I was skeptical. My doubts vanished when I saw that plowed food plot. Of course, the condition of the ground is always a factor. Soft, sandy soils plow better than hard-packed soils. Weather is a factor, too.

Quads have the versatility to work food plots but have also helped to revolutionize hunting by making difficult locations easier to access. In the fall, hunters can use the machines to scout, set up stands, travel to a hunting site and recover game. They have become a sought-out resource for hunters and land managers. They are a tool that can make the hunt better.

There are electric machines; most are UTVs or side-by-sides. They might not have the range to cover large amounts of rough terrain. Electrics are not totally silent. They make a drive train sound and can make significant tire noise, especially on gravel roads.

Some hunters wonder if an ATV spooks deer, but most will tell you that its impact on deer behavior has more to do with the frequency of use, not the frequency of the motor. It's about exposure and repetition. Deer will get comfortable with vehicles like farm machinery, trucks and four-wheelers that travel the roads frequently. It's the infrequent use that gets noticed.

Walking to a hunting stand can leave a significant scent trail. An ATV can reduce that scent trail and save time on access. For years, I've driven my truck as close to a stand as I could but far enough away to hide the vehicle. An ATV will get me closer and be much easier to hide.

As I've gotten older, I've had to select stand sites in hilly country, with access and distance being a major factor. An ATV will give me more options. And I won't have to tote so many bags of corn over my shoulder. Recovering an occasional deer will be easier.

Most hunting clubs allow ATV use for hunting-related activities but not for recreational use. There is a significant liability issue associated with recreational use. Safety issues should always be considered. There are news reports every year about ATV accidents that claim the lives of careless users.

ATVs are a tool that must be used responsibly and considerately. They are not for everyone. I went a long time without one. I will try to be a good user with my new tool.

Reach Dan Geddings at cdgeddings@gmail.com.