While fun might top the list of ATV uses, having a good time is far from the only activity you can do while seated on your quad or side-by-side. In fact, although ATV marketing often centers around jumping dunes and splashing through the mud, it’s the all-terrain vehicles that work for a living that keep the industry moving forward. For every weekend warrior, there are two or three park rangers, county employees or woodsmen driving the sales of ATVs.
Search and Rescue
What are ATVs best at? Getting to hard-to-reach spots in the wilderness where larger vehicles simply can’t tread. This makes them perfect for search and rescue operations run by sheriff and fire departments, law enforcement and national and state park personnel. Able to ford streams, dash down narrow trails or charge through open fields, ATVs can help find missing people deep in the forest and can be used to deliver emergency medical care and evacuate people from areas too densely wooded for helicopters to land. It’s not unusual for operations in remote areas to ask locals to help them scour the trails when searching for missing people; riders are often the ones who best know the area being searched.
The popular image of forestry operations involves huge skidders, 18-wheel trucks loaded with lumber and mobile saws. Before all of that heavy equipment arrives, however, forestry personnel have to scout locations for a cut in areas where there aren’t any roads. At the planning stages, what isn’t done from the air is supported by workers on the ground riding all-terrain vehicles, making forestry one of the practical ATV uses. Quads are also extremely handy for hauling in supplies and providing emergency assistance to forestry workers scattered throughout a cut site — as anyone who’s ever used their ATV to bring food and fuel to a remote cabin or fishing spot can easily attest to.
ATV use in hunting changed the game for those seeking to land a prize buck, moose or bear far from the lights of civilization. Instead of dragging a trophy out of the woods using block, tackle and manpower, it’s now possible to simply attach your prize to the cargo bed of an ATV and drive it out in less than half the time. ATVs allow hunters to access areas that were previously off-limits to 4×4 vehicles that couldn’t handle the tough terrain between the cabin and prime bow and rifle spots.
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Having been bitten by the car bug at a young age, I spent my formative years surrounded by Studebakers at car shows across Quebec and the northeastern United States. Over ten years of racing, restoring, and obsessing over automobiles lead me to balance science writing and automotive journalism full time. I currently contribute as an editor to several online and print automotive publications, and I also write and consult for the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.