As the Competitions Director for the Total Outdoorsman Challenge, I get my hands on a lot of gear. I’ve shot more firearms than my shoulder and ears care to remember. Blow dart guns, throwing knives, countless bows, rods and reels, even boots…more brands and models, just to see how well they perform and how much punishment they can take.

Some brands sold me; after prepping the bows for Regional competitions, I bought three Diamond Edge models for my daughters. I use Bass Pro Shops brand spinning and casting rigs pretty much exclusively. After testing the casting courses and seeing how those rigs performed, I believe they’re the best value out there.

One sponsor that I didn’t need to be sold on their gear was Yamaha. I bought Yamahas ATVs and UTVs before I ever became involved in the Total Outdoorsman Challenge. For my money, they were (and still are) just simply the best machines period.

Typically, when TOC had a new sponsor, my response would be “great, send me a list of what they want us to use.” When Yamaha came aboard, I was excited for very selfish reasons; I could use their machines during set-up, and I could make the courses ridiculously hard. A Yamaha could handle anything my little pea brain could think up.

During set-up and competitions, the UTVs and ATVs handled cutting courses, hauling gear, pulling trailers with 15 people, etc. It didn’t matter what it was, the Yamahas took it. They’re just flat tough, which in the deer woods I spend my time in, is an absolute necessity.

While power steering on a wheeler sounds a little fancy to an Arkansas boy like me, the first time I got to run an ATV through the woods, the function was obvious. You can maneuver through woods quickly, if needed, that you’d never consider on a wheeler without the add-on. I really don’t mind a little fancy if I can see the reasons behind it, and I’ve completely bought into the power steering.

Just like every business in the world, the outdoor world has some great folks and some you wouldn’t let your dog stay with. From the top fella in North America to the local dealer, EVERY single person I’ve dealt with from Yamaha is first class. Hunting buddy, Christmas card list, share a meal with type of people.

If you’re in the market, take a look at Yamaha. They sell a great product that I personally own and trust, especially when it’s all dark and I’m way back in a South Arkansas swamp.