Whether you’re trekking to a tree stand on opening day, hauling decoys to a duck blind at 4 in the morning, planting food plots in the spring or just taking your kids for a spin on a Saturday afternoon, you need a way to get yourself and a bunch of stuff from point A to point B. For a lot of solo hunters, that means an ATV. Add passengers and enough “stuff” and a UTV becomes the clear option. Today’s UTVs can go anywhere and haul just about anything smaller than an elk, and the Kawasaki Teryx4 is a leader of the UTV pack.
I spent a few days last week at beautiful Chappie-Shasta OHV (Off-Highway Vehicle) Area in Redding, Calif., putting the Teryx4 to the test. Managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the USDA Forest Service, Chappie-Shasta encompasses 52,000 acres and more than 200 miles of roads and trails between the Sacramento River and Clear Creek. Elevation ranges from 1,000 to 5,000 feet and it boasts a wide variety of topography, soil and vegetation types.
More than 40,000 of those acres are open to hunting, and Chappie-Shasta borders the 1.2-million-acre Shasta Trinity National Forest, which is also open to public hunting. Sportsmen will find blacktail deer, black bear and hogs here, and the river teems with trout. This is an ideal location for a DIY blacktail hunt. Other popular uses of this area include hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, target shooting and, of course, off-highway vehicle recreation.
Over the course of the day we covered about 35 miles of trail in the Teryx4, and the terrain did indeed vary widely. In a matter of hours I had crossed creeks, zipped past waterfalls, traversed snowy paths, shivered in the cold, baked in the sun, climbed mountains, navigated hairpin turns and descended one particular downhill stretch of ruts and ditches that — I won’t lie — had me clenching my jaw until I got back to level ground. Thank God for electric power steering (EPS) and on-the-fly 4WD.
What are the main requirements I demand in a high-performance hunting vehicle? It has to go anywhere and it has to haul a lot, and if I can be comfortable in it, that’s a big plus.
The Kawasaki Teryx delivers. With a Double-X frame design, a 749cc V-twin four-stroke engine, electronic fuel injection, liquid cooling, continuously variable transmission (CVT), a category-first centrifugal clutch assembly and an electrically selectable 4WD system featuring instant-switch access to 2WD, 4WD and 4WD+Front Differential Lock system, the Teryx4 really will go anywhere. A wide-track chassis design and relatively short (86.1-inch) wheelbase offers stability on rough terrain and a tight (16.7-foot) turning radius. When cresting ridges or navigating steep slopes, lots of ground clearance is a must, and the Teryx4 has 10.8 inches — plenty. Large 26-inch Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 tires are the largest available in the side-x-side category and give you the control and traction you’ll need. The brakes are recessed within the wheels, protecting them from dirt, water and debris, while durable steel-braided lines help keep lever feel crisp and progressive. In back is Kawasaki’s unique sealed internal wet brake. Internal components are completely sealed from mud, water, dust and debris, the result being ultra-reliable braking performance in most conditions.
On the performance side, you’ll also find sport-focused independent suspension, high-performance shocks, and a lot of other technical stuff that I’ll let the professional UTV guys tell you about. I’m just a hunter who wants to be able to climb mountains and not get stuck in the mud —at least not very often.
So at Chappie-Shasta I climbed mountains and did not get stuck in the mud, though not for lack of trying. But what else do I need a hunting rig to do? Carry stuff — duck decoys, a lock-on stand, a couple of guns, maybe a dog, and hopefully a dead deer a couple times per season. The Teryx4’s 1,300-pound towing capacity is more than enough for most hunters, and the cargo hold measures 18x48 inches with an 8.5-inch depth. The flat-bottomed space is big enough for a large cooler, spare fuel cans or other large objects, and four tie-down loops help secure cargo safely. The cargo hold capacity is 250 pounds, and if you regularly need to haul out deer heavier than that, please call me and let’s go hunting together.
On the comfort side of things, the Teryx4 is roomy with cushy high-backed bucket seats, and the front seats are adjustable. There are also three-point seatbelts with an anti-cinch feature to prevent over-tightening when the belts lock. You know, just in case you come in a little hot and have to slam on the brakes. Side doors are standard on the Teryx4 (optional on the two-seater Teryx), and you’ll find other handy features such as scratch-resistant bodywork, auto-style parking brake, easy-open front hood, DC sockets and cupholders for your pre-dawn travel mug of coffee.
Fuel capacity is 8 gallons, and even with its wide track and big tires, the Teryx4 is compact enough to fit in the bed of most full-size pickup trucks. You’ll probably want to add a winch and the optional Kolpin gun boot accessories — the Teryx4 is almost infinitely customizable. Visit www.kawasaki.com for more information, and “let the good times roll!”