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Hunters Want More Carrying Capacity

October 1, 2004
Filed under Features

While distributors attempt to provide the industry with the most sought-after product, it is the dealer on the front line who spots trends and works with customers. Powersports Business talked with a handful of dealers across the country to find out what hunters are asking for.
“They’re going to purchase Kolpin gun racks and scabbards, winches and hand warmers, and a lot of them will purchase little carrying cases to pack shells and misc items,” said Brian Johnson of Stateline Kawasaki/Polaris in Milton Freewater, Ore.
“Most of the hunters we have really don’t bolster the machine. At most, we see them alter the tires a bit – the ITP Mud Lite is one of the most popular tires — and obviously winches are popular and a real necessity when hunting. The 2.5ci is our most popular seller right now — accounting for 75% to 80% of winch sales — but there are folks with the really heavy rigs, like the UTVs, who are going with the 3.0.”
Johnson gets his PG&A from Parts Unlimited, Tucker Rocky, Western Power Sports and Marshall Distributing, “plus a number of specialty distributors.”
While Johnson says one trend he has noticed is hunters buying more hard cases than soft luggage, Ken Rappe of Taylor Bros., Inc, a BRP and John Deere dealer in Great Falls, Mont., says his customers don’t purchase many hard packs or rack extensions.
“I think those are a hindrance when you want to get game onto the machine,” Rappe said. “Most guys are dragging (game) anyway. The guys buying rack extensions are usually the recreational riders rather than the hunters. They are the guys who would rather pack a cooler.”
Elk and deer are prime targets in Great Falls. Hunters use their ATVs to get where the animals are.
“They like to make the quads street-legal so they can use the forest service roads,” Rappe said. “They also really go after the heated grips, the Warn winches we carry, and the gun holders and game bags.”
Rappe says he works almost exclusively with Western Power Sports, headquartered nearby.
Hunting season just started a couple of weeks ago near Ron’s Honda Center in Soldotna, Alaska. Parts Manager Shay Mullin says customers mostly buy bigger tires and gear to aid carrying space, things like rack packs, side packs and guns scabbards.
“We also sell a lot of Warn winches — we just got some of the 2.5ci after being on backorder for a month and a half — a few people are buying skid plates, and the Moose, Quad Boss and Ducks Unlimited product is moving pretty decently,” Mullin said.
Best selling tires? ITP Mud Lite and Maxxis Mud Bugs. “Everyone seems to like those a lot,” he said.
Down south, the folks at Sunrise Honda in Searcy, Ark., a single-line Powerhouse dealer, say most hunters seem to be attracted to the Foreman 450, outfitting the quad with camo accessories, winches and gun boots.
Although America’s Motor Sports of Dickson in Dickson, Tenn. sells Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki Yamaha, Polaris, BRP and DinLi., the dealership’s Dean Milby said the Honda Rancher appears to be the preferred vehicle in the area.
He says area hunters look for gun racks, gun scabbards, ATV covers, rear rack packs, tank saddlebags, all mostly in camouflage.
Jackson County ATVs in Ripley, W.Va., deals only in Yamaha, Arctic Cat and Kawasaki ATVs. The dealership receives its ATV-related products from Parts Unlimited, Marshall Distributing, K&K and Tucker Rocky.
“Business from hunters is very good for us,” says Aaron Rose. “We see a lot of hunters come through looking for gear.”
Hunting season is just beginning in Rose’s area. “The biggest things are the gun racks and scabbards, and we sell some camo kits — fender overlays and such. We don’t sell a whole lot of camo items because a lot of folks don’t want to pay extra. So we’re finding a lot of the customers just going with black.”
Rose says larger, more aggressive tires are usually purchased and tree stand carriers are popular, but says he can only sell a winch when they’re priced at $69 in concert with a vehicle purchase.
Kevin Latzig, employed by Ray’s Sport & Cycle in Grand Rapids, Minn., says gun scabbards, storage boxes and rack extensions are among the most popular items. Ray’s sells Honda, Yamaha and Bombardier quads and deals with Parts Unlimited and Bell Industries for aftermarket product.
“We carry camo, but it’s really nothing that we move a lot of,” Latzig said. “Most of the purchases have to do with carrying capacity, and most of the folks are happy with black.”
Another stand-out product: wheel kits, Mud Lites from ITP.
Kyle Golbner of Larry’s Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha, Jefferson City, Mo., says gun and bow holders and camouflaged soft luggage prove to be the most popular items with hunters.
“We don’t move a lot of the hard parts — a few winches and more aggressive tires, but that’s about it,” Golbner said. Larry’s works with Parts Unlimited, Tucker Rocky, Motorcycle Stuff, Western Power Sports.
Specialty Recreation Kawasaki, Coeur D Alene, Idaho, receives the majority of its product from Tucker Rocky and Western Power Sports.
The dealership’s Perry Cole says most of the items sold to hunters can be attached to the top of the quad to aid carrying gear. “They’re looking for gun racks or scabbards and storage cases, and some will put on hot grips,” Cole said. “They’re not really doing much to the quads themselves. The most popular hard part is probably a winch.”

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