TESTED: Best UTV for Hunters

UTVs and ATVs have become staples in the hunter’s arsenal. Whether you use them to access tough-to-reach hunting areas, retrieve game, maintain food plots, carry feed, or to haul treestands and blinds to your favorite spot, these machines have become indespensible tools for the 21st century sportsman. As a result, there are many players in the game, which is good for hunters—more competition among the manufacturers leads to more choices. Broad competition is also challenging for hunters—the more choices there are, the more difficult it is to pick the model that’s right for you.

Taking a hunter-centric approach (which is always our yardstick), we think you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more suitable hunting rig than the new Defender Mossy Oak Hunting Edition HD10 by Can-Am. And we’re not stepping our foot lightly into that claim. We just spent a week in Texas, chasing down turkeys and giving the new Defender a serious workout, and we’ve come away highly impressed. Of course, we didn’t expect anything less, as the powersport junkie in us has always appreciated Can-Am’s solid reputation for building high-performance machines. Not surprisingly, the Defender HD10 offers a generous dose of that proven Can-Am DNA.

The Hunter’s Perspective

Unlike most recreational or commercial-oriented UTV buyers, hunters demand a lot from a single vehicle platform. Not only must the rig be reliable, able to conquer tough terrain, and be able to withstand heavy loads and rough treatment, it also must accommodate our unique gear needs. The designers of the Defender Mossy Oak Hunting Edition HD10 evidently approached the drawing board with us in mind.

For starters, there’s the Mossy Oak Break-Up Country pattern on the body work. Combine this with the blackout wheels, interior, structural support, and canopy and you have a visually stealthy rig that blends in most hunting environments.

Perhaps even more appreciated than the camo treatment are the included Double Kolpin Stronghold Gun Boots. Built with a removable foam and nylon liner and able to accommodate guns up to 52 inches long (with bipods and optics), these scabbards offer maximum protection even under aggressive trail conditions. The Gun Boots secure to the headache rack via an auto-latch mechanism. Firearms can be quickly stowed or removed from the Gun Boots without taking the scabbards off the rack. And since the Gun Boots secure to the headache rack, no storage space is wasted in the cargo box or on the side rails.

Speaking of the cargo box, it’s sized to haul, and with a 1,000-lb. capacity, you can haul a lot. A dropgate offers easy access for loading and unloading heavy gear. Two LinQ-compatible tool holders are included. These fit on the bed rails with the LinQ quick-attach system, and are perfect for securing a shovel, long-handle ax, or similar tools of the trail.

Another LinQ-attached feature is an LED RAM spotlight. This is a high-intensity LED light that mounts to the bed rail by way of the LinQ system and plugs into an accessory outlet behind the driver’s seat. Its double-ball mast lets you pivot the light where you need it, making it ideal for after-dark field dressing or scoping out the terrain around you.

One of the issues we’ve always had with UTVs was that, for a “utility sized” vehicle, interior storage has traditionally been sorely lacking. Not so with the HD10. The VERSA-PRO bench seat, for example, delivers ample and comfortable seating for two heavily dressed hunters (or three slim fellows), but flip up the passenger seat cushion and you’ll find a handy compartment to stow those loose items. We used ours to stash gloves, jackets, and binos. If that’s not enough, there’s a water-resistant tool box in the dash and and a large shelf space under the dash.

Performance in the Details

The HD10 is powered by Can-Am’s proven Rotax V-twin engine. This is the 976cc/72hp version with electronic fuel injection. We found it to be a torquey little powerplant with a smooth throttle response and plenty of grunt for pulling steep grades. On the downhill side, the electronic hill descent control system keeps you off the brake pedal.

While the HD10 is a confident, comfortable ride on the easy stuff, our time in the seat revealed that it’s the nasty trails where the Defender truly shines. A lot of the credit goes to the capable suspension setup (10-inch front/rear suspension travel, 11-inch ground clearance, and a pleasantly low center of gravity for off-camber work), but it’s the four-mode traction system that left us smiling.

The HD10 has an auto-locking front differential that allows you to move between 2×4 open, 4×4 open, 2×4 locked rear, and 4×4 locked rear. We like this because if you only need the rear diff locked to get over an obstacle, the 2×4 locked mode allows you to do so while maintaining normal steering effort.

That one earns two thumbs up from the HuntDaily crew.

All for One

Understandably, a UTV such as the Defender HD10 isn’t for everyone. Some hunters prefer something they can stow in their pickup bed, or they simply don’t need the hauling capacity of a side-by-side. Well, Can-Am has a hunter app for that in the new Outlander Mossy Oak Hunting Edition 1000R. This, too, we tested while in Texas. If you’re looking for hunter-friendly quad with more muscle and trail prowess than you may ever need, here it is.

In addition to its 89-hp V-twin engine, auto-locking front diff, CVT tranny with engine braking, power steering, and 1,300-lb. tow capacity, the Outlander comes ready for the hunt. Standard features include a Mossy Oak Break-Up Country camo finish, Kolpin’s 6.0 Gun Boot, rear rack gear grips, LED RAM spotlight, and a 3,000-lb. rated Warn winch.

One feature any hunter will appreciate is the included radio frequency key-based anti-theft security system. Leaving your ATV unattended is a worrisome proposition in some areas, so the security system offers welcomed piece of mind.

Final Assessment

Can-Am earned its stripes in the competition arena. We like the fact that the lessons learned in building high-endurance racing platforms have translated into technology that delivers in the hunting fields. Our time spent in the Defender HD10 seat and on the Outlander 1000R saddle has shown us that racing DNA combined with hunter-focused amenities can produce off-road machines that can take us anywhere the game trails lead, and do so in high confidence. If you’re in the market for the ultimate hunting machine, these two rigs deserve close consideration.

SOURCE

Can-Am

— HuntDaily staff

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