Hunters important to the ATV industry

Preparing for the hunting season in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Mike Soder of the Fish & Hunt Shop in Curtis, Mich., says he is banking on the sale of items such as winches, gun scabards, windshields, heated grips, portable blinds and GPS units.
While every manufacturer offers at least a few OEM-branded items important to hunters, few of them outfit their ATVs with a selection of stock items Soder says prove popular in his area. Sure, there’s Arctic Cat and its Multi-Rack Platform, and Honda with its selection of GPS-prepared GPScape vehicles, but the Fish & Hunt Shop carries Bombardier and Suzuki. Soder says he seeks selection in his offerings, and says much of the 50-year-old dealership’s most sought after hunting product is attained through the aftermarket.
“The manufacturers have a number of nice products designed for hunters, but we’re finding the aftermarket just has a lot more of that type of product available,” Soder told Powersports Business. Marshall and Kimpex, he says, are his main distributors.
Hunters represent an important market for Marshall Distributing, where Brian McMahan says the outdoor enthusiasts are used to gauge product potential.
“Normally when reviewing potential products we look at market potential, product quality, pricing, and competitive comparisons,” McMahan says, adding: “With hunting products, we also involve avid hunters to get their insight on what products they believe would be desirable and useful.”
Marshall offers outdoorsmen a variety of gear, and McMahan says gun scabbards, bags and racks are among the most popular.
“The Kolpin gun scabbards always sell great, as do gun racks and universal pack racks from IPI, All Rite, Cycle Country and Emgo,” he says. “We also sell GMAX open face and MX style helmets in camouflage, and they’re also proving to be very popular with the hunters.”
“Hunters have a very high probability of being ATV’ers, and so we place significant emphasis on products geared for the hunter,” says Glen Urquhart, ATV manager at Tucker Rocky Distributing. “They may use their ATVs all year, but when hunting season rolls around, the ATV becomes an important part of the hunt.”
Urquhart must know what he is talking about, since Tucker Rocky recently combined efforts with the conservation group Ducks Unlimited, marketing the Ducks Unlimited brand on its product and raising money for the non-profit at the same time.
Urquhart says his coworkers in Ft. Worth are among the hunters for which ATVs are a necessity. “Our CFO is an avid duck hunter and is a contributing member of our recently created team of Tucker Rocky employees who are duck hunters,” he says. “These are some of the folks who will assist in our development of the Ducks Unlimited brand of accessories for ATVs.”
For now, the most popular of Tucker Rocky’s hunting-related ATV products are marketed under the QuadBoss brand. Those items include the new Doskocil plastic gun case, which Urquhart describes as “a solid hit for us this season”; the Carry-All rack that holds everything from a fishing rod to a rifle; and a clear top tank bag for map and small item storage.
QuadBoss gear is available in Mossy Oak pattern while the recently-announced Ducks Unlimited product will use the new Advantage Max-4 pattern.
Other popular QuadBoss-branded gear that Tucker Rocky thinks would be of interest to dealers includes a 1700 lb. winch, a selection of loading ramps and the new Elite fairing, plus Cycle Country heated hand grips; DG A-arm guards, skid plates and bumpers; and a new Stealth exhaust that the distributor says reduces four-stroke exhaust noise by up to 50%.
Kyle Phillips deals in product development for Parts Unlimited’s Moose Utilities Division (M.U.D.). Phillips says the time from August through November represents M.U.D.’s biggest selling time for hunting product, and says it seems as if the main focus of today’s hunter is the expansion of a vehicle’s carrying capacity.
“Whether it’s the common gun rack or scabbard, rack bags, tank and fender bags or adjustable carriers, I think they’re looking for whatever is convenient and can carry their gear safely,” Phillips says.
Of course, price-point is important, too. Phillips says M.U.D. does “alright” with apparel – it offers Mossy Oak apparel and boots – but says “it’s hard to compete with chains like Cabella’s and Gander Mountain.”
Phillips says trailers don’t seem to be too popular with M.U.D. retailers, either – “Again, implement stores kill us on those because they sell a steel unit for around $100 whereas ours, although a higher quality, tend to cost a bit more.”
But the M.U.D. product must be making an impact in the ATV industry since Honda, earlier this year, chose the line to help it bring licensed parts and accessories to market. Honda’s new Fall 2003 ATV Product Guide features privately-labeled hunting-related items like popular Warn winches, front and rear cargo bags in black or camouflage, Mossy Oak Break-Up fender kits, camo seat and ATV covers, windshields, ramps, heated grips, a GPS/telephone holder and even chassis armor. All from M.U.D.
“The planning of new product always depends on trends,” Phillips said, “and right now we’re seeing a lot of interest in all the camo gear for hunters. So, what we’ve decided to do is carry all the Mossy Oak-branded gear we can. We know there’s a demand, it’s good stuff, and we work really well with those guys.”

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