This deer season at my mid-Georgia hunting lease property I was selected to test drive a John Deere Gator XUV 855M S4 model year 2021. I’ve been deer hunting for over 30 years and my Crystal Pig Hunt Club buddies and I have test driven a number of vehicles. I have to say I got most excited about them when we moved from 4-wheelers to utility vehicles. This is the second Gator we’ve used and it’s a beauty. Our local dealer, Blanchard Equipment, delivered the unit which had brush guards and front/back windows attached. Those are very handy for the amount of weeds and vines we have to run through. This is also the first diesel I’ve tested too.
So, let’s get started with a little bit about what’s new on this model that I was most impressed with. This includes improvements to the transmission controls, digital displays, gear positions and power steering. The power steering is huge when you’ve got very tight turns that come up fast!
Some of the key uses for a Gator for us include hauling corn to fill feeders, getting to and from stands and hauling a harvested deer back to camp which also includes driving a little off trail in the woods to get to it. The standard lights package also provides more visibility at night than any vehicle I’ve driven and that’s great for those end of the day hunts.
Likes: Power, hey it’s a diesel. Two seats for comfort and back seat flips into a table with storage compartments below that. Digital display to see what gear we’re in along with speed, fuel level and messaging. One touch 4-wheel drive. Super responsive power steering. Much more comfortable suspension for rugged trails. Very easy cargo bed dump control.
Suggestions: Cup holders need to move away from transmission stick. I know this sounds minor but you can’t put a full size tumbler there. Seat side rails need some cushion. Very easy to catch on them sitting down onto the seat, especially a big body. If you’re hunting, a gun rack accessory is a must. I also think a winch is too. Too many times over the years they have been more than worth it.
In the video you can see some footage of the Gator in action and I end with a recap on location before the unit was returned to John Deere.
I want to thank John Deere for allowing me and my hunt camp members to use one of the newest Gator models. We have had a very successful season and using a Gator made it very enjoyable. Hope we can do it all again next year.
We had the best weather for opening days of the season at the Crystal Pig Hunt Club that we’ve had yet and took advantage of it to harvest a few deer. Paul and I got these bucks on the same afternoon. We have seen some much larger racks and will be back, hopefully during the rut.
We saw a lot of deer and mostly does. I had a spike buck walk up underneath me while sitting in my stand. He literally sniffed the foot of the ladder. I let him go since we have lots of better choices and maybe he’ll be back nest year.
A couple of us were on site before opening day and glad we did that. Basically, all our feeders were not working for different reasons. We had to change motors, batteries, re-program and refill. Of course, it’s a good workout. But the property is in the best shape for hunting since we leased it.
One of the most significant improvements to our camp is the installation of electricity. We’re run a lot of hours on generators over the years and now everything is quiet and we have lots of outlets to handle everything we need electricity for.
Big thanks go out to John Deere for the use of a new Gator which we’re test driving, making notes and will be writing about soon.
This is an exciting time for deer hunters. The season is about to get started for those of us who hunt in Georgia. So, preparations are being made for a great opening day at the Crystal Pig Hunt Club.
My preparation includes getting to test drive a new John Deere Gator XUV855M S4. This crossover utility vehicle will take us out into the woods over some tough terrain and hopefully to include transporting some of our harvest. I’ll be documenting our experience but thought I’d kick start things with an interview with Mark Davey, John Deere Marketing Manager, in my weekly podcast, The ZimmCast.
There are many features on these new Gators that make them ideal for hunting. Some of those include easier shifting and instant engagement of 4-wheel drive, better power steering and a digital display panel to see important indicators. In this week’s program Mark and I talk about the new Gator models and what the key updates are. I hope you enjoy it and thank you for listening.
Although the 2018 deer season in central Georgia was not the best we’ve ever had it was not the worst. We harvested deer. Saw more deer and got a lot of work done to make a growing pine forest easier to hunt in.
This is my last post from the season since I had to show what one of the most important benefits of having a good utility vehicle with the right accessories is. Besides getting you to and from your deer stand there’s the issue of bringing a large animal out of some of the worst conditions possible. In our case that was a buck in 6 to 10 feet high pricker vine thickets that are covering a hillside and across a creek bed. My bother Paul got the deer down the hill to the creek somehow. I got the Can-Am Defender we had the honor to be using as close to the creek bed as I could. From there we let the WARN winch do the rest. That last 40 yards may not have been possible without it!
I had hoped to shoot a lot more video this season but conditions were mostly rainy, windy, muddy and filled with scratches and learning how the pine growth and intense weed growth has changed patterns and paths for the deer. We learned a lot and have some very high hopes for the next season and sure hope we can do it with a Can-Am!
A couple of the members of the Crystal Pig Hunt Club are happy this season. My little tiny brother Paul harvested the nicest buck we’ve brought to camp last week. Of course there is a story to this because that’s just part of deer hunting.
In this case, Paul saw this 8 pt. buck from his stand about 200 yards or so across a creek and partially uphill in the middle of the nastiest mess of thorn vines and bushes you’ve ever seen. In fact, the whole hillside and a big part of our property is covered with this crap. Someday the pines will get big enough to shade them out. But from the time he went to find the deer with me in his stand guiding him by arm gestures to the time the deer was in the back of the Can-Am Defender we’re test driving it took almost 2 1/2 hours! I think I still have some splinters in my body. The last leg of the journey out of the thickets was over the creek and for that we used the Warn winch on the Can-Am. I don’t know if we would have been successful without it. And I would never get a utility vehicle without one for sure.
So, we got Paul’s buck back to camp and he had just started cleaning it when I walked back under our pole barn and saw another buck about 120 yards from camp! I had to run back to the Can-Am to get my rifle out of the case that’s mounted on the vehicle. Got back to the barn and he was still there. So, bam, I got a 5 pt. And let’s just say it was not hard getting him back to camp. LOL. All in all that’s what I call a happy deer hunt.
We’re going to be back at the Pig after Christmas when my nephews can be there and all of the CPHC team. We’ll continue putting this Can-Am Defender through its paces, especially since there has been so much rain and we’ve got some muddy places to drive through.
Hello and welcome to episode number three of a series of videos and posts with other members of our Crystal Pig Hunt Club (CPHC), from the 2017/18 Georgia deer hunting season. The season is over but work on our property never stops.
On our last day during the season, Paul and I talked about the John Deere Gator XUV825i we test drove. The Gator is just a solid machine and we put it through its paces in different weather and ground conditions.
In this episode my brother Paul and I talk about our experience using the utility vehicle in the woods while deer hunting. You’ll hear nothing but praise for this well thought out vehicle which makes it very comfortable to get from camp to the stands and back. Popping in at the end is Paul’s son Joe who has been successfully hunting with us and also helped serve as videographer when called on.
Hello and welcome to episode number two of a series of videos and posts I’m doing, along with other members of our Crystal Pig Hunt Club (CPHC), throughout the Georgia deer hunting season. We’re well into this year’s season and have been out on the property several times. I’m making plans for at least one more trip this year, keeping my finger crossed.
Here’s Paul’s son, Joe, who once again got his deer on his first trip out. He got to ride in the John Deere Gator XUV825i we’ve been test driving and likes it. In the video below you can hear him talk to Paul about hunting with a Gator while they are heading out to their stands on a sunny afternoon.
Chuck Zimmerman’s nephew Joe went deer hunting with his Dad Paul. They seem to like having a John Deere Gator to get out into the woods with. He think this young man is going to be an awesome deerslayer!
Howdy from The Pig. The CPHC team just continues to have good success early in the season. We’ve got a nice long season to go though since the Georgia season for firearms which started October 21 runs through January 14.
In this post I’m going to start letting you know how we are using a John Deere Gator XUV825i to test drive and evaluate its value to some serious deer hunting. John Deere has provided us with the use of this vehicle for most of the season and I have now had the opportunity to get some hours in and out of the woods and on the trails.
As you can see in the photo I have already harvested some deer and brought them out of the woods and back to our camp. My harvest so far consists of a 6pt buck, 2 does and a wild hog. They have all been bagged right near our trails fortunately for me. Speaking of trails, most of ours are freshly plowed by the U.S. Forest Service. They do a great job btw. But we’ve got some serious and deep sugar sand to run through and there are rough spots. You’ll be able to see that in the video below.
Some first impressions on using the Gator include:
All the power I need to climb steep hills on deep sand and with a load in the bed
Very simple controls and layout. Easy to switch between 2-wheel and 4-wheel
Suspension makes the bumps and pot holes almost painless compared to past vehicles I’ve driven
Plenty of light from headlights for night time on the trail
John Deere has some accessories I already know I’d like to add!
So, I’ll have more to say in upcoming episodes. I’m very satisfied with this unit and am not coming up with anything to complain about.
I’m a little behind updating here. The CPHC team has had a great start to the season.
Here’s my next episode in a series coming to you from the Crystal Pig Hunt Club (CPHC) in Georgia. In this episode the focus is going to be on a Can-Am Defender XT which has been provided to us to use and evaluate how well it is suited to some serious deer hunting.
CPHC member, Paul Zimmerman, my brother, has been doing most of the driving in this vehicle, although I have done some also. In the video below we chat about our first impressions while riding out of camp for a load of firewood. You might see in the bed of the Defender a short swivel seat stand that we strapped into it, making the Defender a mobile deer stand!
Some first impressions on using the Can-Am include:
It has lots of power but runs quiet
The suspension is amazing
The turning radius has made is easier to turn around on narrow trails than we expected
Some accessories like winch and side/back panels around bed have come in very handy
So, that’s a start. Paul has harvested two deer so far, one of them being the 8pt buck you see in the photo. So, in the points race (we don’t really have one) he’s in the lead. We’re liking the Can-Am but will have more to come.