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UTV: Utility Terrain Vehicle

A UTV is a ubiquitous piece of equipment in Rural Texas. Farmers and ranchers use them, every hunter has one and it is not uncommon to see several loaded on a utility trailer along with coolers and generators for a trip to the deer lease.

Kawasaki Mule file pricture

Kawasaki Mule file picture

Our UTV is a 2007 Kawasaki Mule 3010 Trans 4×4.  It is usually the first piece of equipment on a jobsite with good reason.   We went along for quite sometime thinking we did not need a utility vehicle of this type.  On most of the jobsites,  the property owner had some sort of four wheeler -either an ATV or a UTV- and most would give us permission to use them.  We were always cautious of abusing another man’s property so we used them sparingly but it did give us some exposure to the different types of UTVs.  We quickly found the one person 4 wheelers or ATVs were not for us.  We needed to carry people and we needed to carry equipment so the tradeoff for capacity versus maneuverability was a no brainer.  In the larger UTVs, we tried the Polaris, John Deere, Yamaha, Cub Cadet and others in just about every configuration in both gas and diesel.  We quickly decided the diesel models were prohibitive due to a higher cost and they were noisy rascals to boot!

It all came to a head in the late Fall of 2006.   We had started a big job on an 800 acre tract  east of Huntsville,TX.   The job involved 2

Huntsville, TX Project

Huntsville, TX Project

lakes at the extreme opposite edges of the property and building an extensive system of roads and trails across the 800 acres. Well, it rained one day and the next morning we tried to negotiate one of the rough logging roads that was  already there in a full sized 4×4.  It was a nasty, bone jarring, wheel spinning muddy mess.  The next day we talked to the property owner who had a diesel Kawasaki Mule and he referred us to a Kawasaki dealer in Houston and off we went.

Some of the aspects that sold us on the Kawasaki Mule 3010 Trans 4×4 were:

It was a 4 seater that could convert to a 2 seater and double the cargo area in the bed. The cargo area was useable!

It could tow up to 1200 lbs.

The 2 cylinder  4 stroke engine was a proven industrial strength design.

It had an automatic transmission with a selectable low/high range and 4 wheel drive.

It had a locking rear differential.

We added 3 options to the Mule.  Front and rear skidplates to protect the front axle, rear axle, transmission and engine.  We

Kawasaki Mule 3010 Trans 4X4 strapped down on a transport trailer.

Kawasaki Mule 3010 Trans 4X4 strapped down on a transport trailer.

changed the tires to a wider, higher flotation model.  Many people opt for a skinnier, taller tire with an aggressive tread pattern.  That is probably great for rocky terrain.  We felt the wider flotation tires would be better suited for extreme mud or deep sand and have an overall wider application since we do not operate in the same conditions on every job.  We also added a hard top which has proved to be a great option.  It keeps the hot sun off and deflects the rain and gives us just a little protection in the otherwise open cab.

I mentioned starting out that the Mule was usually the first piece of equipment on the job site.  It is funny how things change when you obtain a really useful addition to the equipment line.  The Mule is used every day on the jobsite.  It is the number one means of transportation between the different projects and the RV Base.  It is the exploratory vehicle of choice when we are trying to get the lay of the land.  It does most things a full sized 4X4 could do and it does them better. It saves our full sized 4X4s from getting beat to crap every day as well.

The day prior to us being rained out this past week, it was around noon time and the weather was threatening.  I was working clearing a rough trail toward the back of the property and waiting on my brother to come pick me up in the Mule to go to the RV Base for lunch.  He got there early and said ‘Get in– We need to do some mapping for the client before it rains.”  We took the Mule ad the hand held GPS and traversed every new road and trail we had cut for the last week.  It was a rough bumpy ride in spots and we covered several miles.  By the time we were done,  there was a steady light rain falling and that was the end of the week for us.  Sometimes I wish we had another Mule– maybe one of those two seaters because there are times we need two to get everything done.   I know  we would never want to do without a UTV again.

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