Having your ATV properly set up for hunting can make the hunt easier, safer, and much more enjoyable.
Different types of hunting require different types of gear. In this post, I’ve listed various accessories to consider when modifying your ATV to your ideal hunting rig.
Muffler silencer for a quiet exhaust
ATV exhausts are typically quite loud. Luckily, there are ways to make them quieter, like installing a muffler silencer. Popular alternatives are the Kolpin Stealth or the ones from Silent Rider. Note that the latter is not universal but model-specific.
BUT, even with an extra muffler, the animal will still hear you coming from afar. It may allow you to drive closer to wildlife without scaring them away, leaving less disturbance on the hunting grounds. But they will still hear and smell you coming.
Gun and bow rack or gun boot
You need a place to safely store your rifle or bow. Some prefer gun racks, others prefer closed boots. Here are a few pros and cons of both types.
A Gun boot
- Protect the rifle from mud, dirt, dust, snow, and water.
- Protects the weapon from impacts and brush.
- It can be locked for added security.
- It can be installed with the rifle pointing downwards, as any weapon should be doing at all times when not shooting.
- It May not fit rifles with large 56mm scopes or bigger.
- Boots without soft inner lining may scuff up the rifle.
My personal favorite is the Kolpin Stronghold because of the way it easily opens up in the back. Another great alternative is the case from Black Boar, which also features a padded inner lining.
Gun- and bow racks
- It can hold pretty much any rifle with any scope as well as most bows.
- The weapon is always easily accessible.
- The rifle or bow is fully exposed to damage from the elements or impacts.
- If mounted sideways, longer rifles will stick out, leaving them vulnerable.
No need to go fancy when it comes to gun grips. Pack Racks from All Rite Products offer grips that are robust, affordable, and fit most ATVs.
GPS for navigating, route planning and marking waypoints
Installing a GPS on your ATV may provide more uses than you think.
- Navigating new hunting grounds
Having a GPS will make it easier to navigate and get familiar with new hunting grounds without getting lost.
- Navigating back home, if you do get lost
You wouldn’t be the first to suddenly find yourself lost in a forest that you think you know as well as your backyard. One wrong turn, and all of a sudden, you don’t recognize where you are. Having a GPS in such situations can be a lifesaver, literally speaking.
- Route planning before the hunt
You can plan routes by plotting them into the GPS before you head out. Or even better, you may go into the woods off-season to plan out what routes you will be using. By recording them on to the GPS, they are ready for when hunting season comes.
- Mark waypoints and POIs
It’s nice to keep track of important waypoints and other points of interest. Let’s say you have to head back to camp to fetch a trailer to haul your game. By plotting the position, you don’t need to worry about finding the animal when you return.
Choose any GPS from Garmin, and you can’t go wrong. I especially like the Garmin GPSMAP 64ST TOPO because of its great cost/value ratio.
Most stock ATV tires offer only mediocre off-road performance. Upgrading to a better set of tires is the number one tip for improving your ATV’s off-road capabilities.
Choose proven all-terrain tires like the ITP Mud Lite in a size one bigger than the stock ones.
This will give you:
- A Wider stance for better stability.
- Better traction in the mud and on wet grounds.
- Better flotation over soft spots.
For really soft and wet conditions, your best option will be replacing your tires altogether and getting a set of tracks instead.
A communication system
If you’re hunting with others, you need a way of communicating to share with them your location, to organize the hunt, and to locate the game.
Also, you’ll need a way of communicating with the outside world in case of an emergency. Cell phones are great, but you cannot count on always having cellular service when heading deep into the woods.
Here are some options to consider:
A walkie talkie with a handlebar mount
This is the option most people use for communicating between the team or group. It’s a cost-efficient, flexible and reliable solution that will fit most needs. Midland offers a great pair with their GTX1050VP4. Get a proper handlebar mount, and you are set.
A CB radio
Some riders prefer having a fixed CB radio installed on their ATV in addition to the walkie-talkie. You can communicate over ranges up to 20-25 miles or more under ideal conditions with an external antenna.
Cobra and Uniden are well-known brands that offer a range of popular units, like this budget-friendly Amazon bestseller from Uniden. The radio unit itself should be installed somewhere it’s protected against dust and water.
Add a waterproof external speaker that can better handle the elements. This one, also from Uniden, gets great reviews.
A GPS with a built-in communication unit
If you want to save space by keeping the number of units down, I recommend looking into the Garmin Rino 750.
It features the ability to show the location of other Rhino users in your group as well as having a built-in two-way radio. Both of which make it great for hunting.
Satellite communication with the outside world
Communication by satellite is the most reliable option for always reaching out, regardless of cellular service. Satellite phones are great but expensive.
A cheaper option is solutions like the Garmin In-Reach, which enables you to send SMS or e-mail, as well as sending an SOS signal, all via satellite.
The Garmin Explorer + features both satellite communication and topo map GPS navigation.
ATV trailer for hauling gear and game
You’ll be able to haul a decent amount of gear on the ATV cargo racks. You can even carry a small game if you don’t mind the mess.
That said, adding a proper trailer to your rig opens a lot of possibilities. Our elk-hunting team uses ATV trailers for hauling building materials to build permanent tree stands, as well as collecting game back to camp.
If your ATV does not come with a winch, you should definitely get one. It is by far the most useful accessory any ATV can have. When hunting, you can use it to:
- Retrieve a big game in rough terrain where you can’t get to it with a trailer.
- Load and unload big game into the trailer.
- Getting your loaded out ATV out of a mud hole.
- Hoist a deer and skin a deer. Learn how in this post with 29 ideas on ways to use an ATV winch.
Waterproof storage box
Hunters always tend to get wet, whether from snow and rain or sweat in the blistering sun. So you’ll need a place to store dry clothes, as well as your spare ammo, non-waterproof electronics, and other nick-nacks.
- Various straps and ropes: Nylon straps, bungee straps, ratchet straps, paracord, and tow rope.
- Snatch block, tree strap, shackle, and a deer hanger – for hoisting deer
- Surveyors ribbon
- Clean plastic bags
- Tool kit
- Tire repair and inflator kit
- Spare spark plug
- Food and drinks
- Camera gear
There are countless options available. This one from Black widow is a user favorite.
Some riders prefer soft cargo packs because they are generally cheaper, easy to install, relatively durable while still providing plenty of storage capacity. Make sure you find a robust and waterproof solution like this one from ATV Tek.
Tank bags or fender bags
Tank bags are great for storing items that you need quick access to in the field, such as
- Water bottle
- First aid kit
- Wallet with hunters license and other required documentation
Note that the bags may get really hot if placed over the engine or exhaust.
Stock ATV lights have limited reach as well as being fixed to where the bike is facing. Some ATVs have handlebar lights that move according to the position of the handlebar. But for hunting, you need more flexibility and power than the stock bike lights can provide.
By installing a movable searchlight, either manual or motorized, you’re able to:
- Track and search for a wounded animal.
- Search for a downed animal.
- Navigate difficult terrain at night.
- Search for a lost hunting buddy.
You could use a flashlight, but with a light that connects to the ATVs cigarette lighter power output, you never have to worry about charging the battery.
Just make sure no-one thinks you are using the light to spotlight and hunt game at night. This type of hunting is illegal in most places and carries serious consequences such as large fines and losing your hunting license.
The ideal ATV searchlight should be:
- Dust and waterproof
- Have a rigid but flexible mounting system
- Provide lots of light
- Sell at an affordable price
I have not found the perfect light yet, but this is the one I use right now. I like how it turns by remote. The quality seems about average, but it is holding up fine and provides a decent amount of light.
Here is a cheaper manual alternative.
If you prefer a handheld light there are loads of good options to choose from, like this HID light from Goodsman.
Heated grips, thumb warmer and seat heater for comfort
When hunting in colder climates, you will love having heated grips and thumb throttle. I’ve been running this kit from Heat Demon for a couple of years now, and I love it. The Quad zone version has the option of controlling additional zones for a heated seat, vest, or insole heaters.
If you want to take it one step further, consider getting an aftermarket seat heater. It’s amazing how effective this type of heat is for keeping your whole body warm.
This alternative from Heat Deamon has to be installed under the seat cover, while this one is placed on top of the seat without having to disassemble the seat cover. For an inexpensive, easy-to-mount alternative with no power draw, consider a pair of Kemimoto handlebar mitts.
Deer and boar hunters that don’t want to bring a trailer should look into a mechanical game loading system like the Tilt-N-Tote Game Loader or the popular Power Loader.
Stick stoppers and skid plates
The animal does not always fall somewhere easily accessible. A wounded animal tends to seek vegetation where it can hide. This means you may have to ride across sticks, rocks, and other vegetation to collect your game.
Broken axles from damaged CV bots after running into sticks are one of the most common ATV repairs. A ripped boot allows grease to run out and dirt and water to get in, causing the joints to fail. A set of proper armor plates may prevent this from happening.
Front and rear cargo basket
With a proper cargo basket, you’re able to carry your gear that doesn’t require weather protection such as:
- Deer feeder
- Feed sacks
- A spare gas can. Another option is to get a spare can with a bracket that installs directly to your cargo racks or brush guards.
Camouflage for your ATV
Having a way of camouflaging your ATV allows you to park it closer to your stand without the risk of scaring away animals. Here are a few options:
Camouflage patterned ATV-cover, like this one from Black Boar.
Installing camp wrap. Most ATV brands offer camo-wrapped models. If you already own an ATV, consider wrapping it up with vinyl camo wrapping.
If you prefer hunting from your ATV, consider getting an ATV Hunting blind. Please note that hunting from a vehicle is not allowed in many places.
Game hoist kit
If you plan on skinning and processing the animal in-field, consider getting a game hoist kit that attaches to your ATV. This one from HME Products attaches to the two-inch receiver and gets great user reviews.
DIY ATV hunting mods
If you want to save money or don’t find the products you need in the stores, you can always build the gear you need. With some effort, you can create an amazing rig, as this guy has:
In the video, he displays his:
- Homemade handlebar-mounted rifle rest
- DIY fiberglass molded rifle scabbard with a sheepskin lining
- Custom rear cargo rack
- Custom fiberglass molded storage boxes