It’s hunting season. Cool winds begin blowing, leaves begin falling, and ATV riders begin appearing at dealerships looking to outfit their quads with specialty parts and accessories.
But just how much of an impact does the hunting community have on the powersports industry?
“I believe that hunters have a huge impact on the powersports industry,” says Kyle Phillips, charged with product development duties for Parts Unlimited’s Moose Utilities Division (M.U.D.).
Glen Urquhart, ATV product manager for Tucker Rocky Distributing apparently feels the same way. “Hunters are a big part of the new unit sales and therefore should be a big part of parts and accessory sales,” Urquhart said when recently contacted by Powersports Business. “Sure, hunters may make up a small percentage of ATV owners, but the percentage of them who own ATVs is relatively high.
“They are constantly looking for products which make for a better and more enjoyable and productive hunt, and they are a huge group of potential new customers to our industry.”
Phillips says he sees the most interest in ATV accessories around Aug. 1, “when the hunters are A) starting to get their ATVs ready for the big hunt, or B) just going in to check out some of the new products. Plus, that’s about the time the OEMs start introducing their new units, too.”
The biggest drawback for powersports dealerships during this season: hunting specialty stores and big-box retailers. Urquhart says the trick in attracting hunters away from specialty stores or mass merchants is by supplying them with enough reasons to return to the powersports dealership.
“Historically, that has not happened,” he said.
While Phillips says he knows hunters frequent other retailers for certain items, he says the hunting ATV enthusiast will continue to visit powersports dealerships for a variety of reasons.
“First off, hunters buy their ATVs from their local dealer with the primary thought in mind to use the ATV to drive out to their favorite hunting spot. Next, they decide that just having the ATV for hunting is crazy, so they go back to their dealer to get snow plows, rack bags, drop racks, trunks, and stuff for family trail rides.
“It’s the hunters in particular who seem to not be shy about dropping some cash on ATVs and accessories.”
Big Game Product
To satiate consumer demand for utility ATV product, M.U.D.’s 2005 catalog offers a record 64-pages this year, packed full of accessories for the hunt, trail ride, or lawn maintenance duties.
Phillips says expansion of the M.U.D. catalog during the past couple years comes mostly through the addition of many new rack bags, storage trunks, front bumpers, tree stand carrier, gun racks, ATV covers and Mossy Oak apparel.
“We don’t really have a best-selling item, but I would say our storage trunks do really well and our bi-fold ramps are popular,” he said. “Also, our quick-release rack system is quickly gaining steam. Using a receiver hitch that works on virtually every metal rack, you can attach an ice auger carrier, bucket holder, chainsaw carrier, or even plug in an EZ Load drop rack.
M.U.D. also produces private-label gear for Honda. For 2005, the catalog expands to include 38 products, including snowplows, winches, cargo bags, covers, fender bags and covers, windshields, ramps and heated grips, among other items.
Urquhart says Tucker Rocky’s year-old Ducks Unlimited private-label line is giving hunters a reason to return to powersports dealers for their gear.
“The Ducks Unlimited brand is being advertised in our industry and outside of it in hunting publications, plus Ducks Unlimited is featuring the product in their upcoming Christmas issue,” Urquhart said. “I was at the Ducks Unlimited Great Outdoor Festival in Oshkosh, Wisc., a few weeks ago and the product line was very well received by the core hunters there.”
For 2005, the Ducks Unlimited line expands through the addition of rear rack padded gear bag, a fender rack, front storage pack, saddlebags, and Ducks Unlimited radial tires mounted on ITP Delta wheels.
Among TR’s most popular products for hunters: Doskocil gun cases, Quad Boss soft and hard luggage; and the Ducks stowage bag featuring shock cords, two built-in drink holders, a removable “blind bag”, and external shotgun shell holders.
Parts Unlimited and Tucker Rocky both have drastically expanded their UTV (side-by-side utility ATVs) offerings during the past year, and Phillips and Urquhart say there is much more product to come.
Phillips said he’s amazed at the growth of the UTV market. “It seems like everyone’s coming out with one of these, and I believe that with the addition of Yamaha’s Rhino, Suzuki’s UTV, and Arctic Cat’s UTV that this portion of the powersports industry is going to skyrocket,” he said.
“I hear consumers want to either accessorize it with lift kits, cab enclosures, bed covers, seat covers, plow mounts, winch mounts, and we’re seeing that dealers want plow mounts and winch mounts for these as soon as they come out.”
“UTVs are a hot comodity now and will be in the future,” Urquhart said. “For instance, my dad is pushing 75 years old and still rides his ATV. As he ages, he will probably migrate to a UTV simply because it is easier to get into. That’s one of the trends I think is out there.”
Tucker’s UTV offerings include a Quick Switch Implement System from Swisher; an electro-magnetic bed lift from Cycle Country; 3,000 lb. winch from Warn; wheel kits and tires from ITP, Kenda and Goodyear; Tommy Toppers enclosures; and a heavy-duty loading ramp.
UTV product from M.U.D. includes plow blades; a 3,000 lb winch; bench seat, bed and cowl covers; cab enclosures; roof caps; and ramps.