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I Hated E-Bikes Until One Hunting Season Changed My Mind

Love them or hate them, e-bikes are everywhere. Our complicated relationship is more contentious than most, but I'm here to say I was wrong about electric bicycles.
e-bike for hunting(Photo/Rachelle Schrute)
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I hated e-bikes. Period. I thought they were stupid, expensive, unnecessary, and dangerous. I’ve testified against their public land use in Montana and have not been quiet about my rage against the machine. Full transparency and a bit of TMI: an e-bike played a strong supporting role in my divorce some years back. But that’s another story for another day.

But, well, here we are. The year is 2024, and two QuietKat Apex Pro e-bikes are sitting in front of me as I type from the tailgate of my pickup. We’ve been testing these things for the better part of a year, and my revelations are more stance-changing than I could have ever anticipated.

As I break these things down to send them back to where they came from, I’m ready to confess. They’ve changed my perspective entirely.

I never wanted to test them. But now I’m super-bummed to send them back. I guess that says something. I’ve even been digging into my wallet trying to figure out if there’s a way to buy them. That says even more.

So, what the heck happened?

Where It Began

child and mother on vintage Yamaha Dirtbike
My early days on two wheels, complete with helmet featuring a cutout for my bangs and the best hair an ’80s mom could have; (photo/Rachelle Schrute)

The evolution of my disdain for e-bikes went something like this: I didn’t. Then, I did. Now, I don’t.

To be fair, I am biased against two-wheeled machines with a motor. I witnessed my uncle’s untimely death on a motorcycle as a young child. I think the vision of his motorcycle skidding one way while my uncle skidded another after being hit by a drunk driver directly in front of my grandmother’s house set the tone. That’ll impact a gal and make her wary of fast-moving, bi-wheeled crafts.

Growing up, I only owned one bike. It was the 1991 (visually and auditorily obnoxious) Huffy Street Rocker. My only memories of biking occurred on that Pepto Bismol pink and Easter egg purple travesty, blaring FM radio’s greatest hits of today and yesterday.

I did have a motorcycle — but it was a Yamaha Mini-TY80. I never rode it anywhere other than our pasture, chasing horses that didn’t want to be chased and turkeys that hated me.

All this is to say I was not a biker. My family never biked. I had never mountain biked in my life. Every motorcyclist on the road made me uncomfortable (and still do). I had a rough start regarding my opinion of anything less than a quadricycle.

Why I Hated E-Bikes for Hunting

tire tracks in mud
Is this where our trails are headed? (photo/Shutterstock)

I remember hearing about e-bikes several years back when someone mentioned they used one to get across the badlands in a big hurry to beat first light in the chase for mule deer glory. To me, it almost sounded humorous. That idea of some burly fella mounting his gun on a bike and then pedaling his little heart out across the gumbo, all decked out in whatever camo was cool at the time? Hilarious.

Then, I saw one. This was no Huffy. This wide-tired beast was not what I pictured, and I immediately felt a sense of ick. It wasn’t long after my first introduction that my home’s co-inhabitant needed one. Again, not a story for today, but it emotionally set me up to loathe the stupid things.

Conservation & Access

Things kicked off when there started to be a lot of chatter in the conservation community about the impact these might have on the land and wildlife populations.

  • Were these in line with fair chase?
  • Were they a nuisance to the herds their riders were pursuing?
  • Were they a danger to those hunters on foot?
  • Were they going to destroy the trails?

I’ve come face-to-face with a mountain biker ripping down a trail doing what I can only estimate to be 1,000 miles per hour. Everyone got hurt. Did I really want that bike to have a motor? No. No, I did not.

I heard all the arguments for disabled hunters having access, elderly people being able to get out into the wild again, and getting further with a lower carbon footprint than a dirtbike. None of that seemed to matter.

I hated e-bikes. I didn’t want them impacting the trails, the ground off trail, wildlife migration, or me in the face.


Mountain Scene in Montana
The calm before the BRAP storm; (photo/Rachelle Schrute)

Close your eyes and imagine the sounds:

BRAP — Braaaaap — BRAP. Blatant Hoochie Mama Cow Call. Brap. BRAP. Braaaaaaaaaap. Cow call. Brap.

I was several miles into a bowhike on a beautiful September day. It couldn’t have been more pristine. I’d been scouting/following the elk for a few days and knew, with all of my being, that they would crest the opposing ridge and wander into a meadow to graze before dark. I felt that this was my night.

I set up in a spot in the edge-timber that I estimated would give me the best chance to bugle them in and began mentally preparing myself for the hunt, the breakdown, and the pack out … when BRAP.

A two-track decommissioned logging road led up and around the peak I was hunting, but it was fairly well understood that no one used it unless it was well before first light or well after last. The only vehicles that can make it are four-wheelers, dirtbikes, and your boldest side-by-side drivers.

Here Comes the ‘Hunter’

Bowhunting; (photo/Rachelle Schrute)

But there, in the prime hunting hours, was a guy on a damn four-wheeler. I could hear him rip through a stretch of trail, stop, cow call, pause for a moment, then continue ripping along — rinse, repeat.

Not only was this sure not to find him any elk, but it was also sure to doom the night for us both. I sat there defeated, listening to distant bugles he couldn’t possibly hear get further and further away. So, instead of wasting a night, I decided to bugle in my new friend.

That story ends a bit contentiously, but the moral is this: For the first time in my life, I thought, if this guy wasn’t willing to make the hike, why the heckin’ heck couldn’t he be on something like an e-bike so he was at least quiet?

Insert my lightbulb moment.

The Changing of the Tide

One hunting trip softened my stance on e-bikes. It was a sudden and personal experience. What if every obnoxious four-wheeler was replaced by a virtually silent e-bike in the elk woods?

Granted, I know that isn’t possible, but why am I taking such a hard stance on this new style of bike that I don’t have with an ATV? One of them has a drastically lower impact on the trail, the environment, the herds, and me.

This was all before I’d ever even been on one.

My New E-Bike Friend: The QuietKat Apex Pro

Bowhnuter on QuietKat e-bike

A PR guy who is also a good friend of mine asked me if I’d be interested in testing some e-bikes from QuietKat. I didn’t let him know then, but I rolled my eyes a bit, still tainted by a lifetime of just not loving bikes and certainly not loving motorized bikes. But why not?

E-bikes have become a fixture in the hunt space, and with my job being what it is, it only seems right for me to test them. Because of how I hunt, I told him something along the lines of, “Sure, send me two.”

They showed up in two massive boxes with a pile of accessories. It was an all-night affair to assemble these things, but it was borderline fascinating to see how streamlined they’ve become since my first interaction with one.

Not being a seasoned biker, I took to the field behind the house, choosing grass stains over road rash. I wish I would have captured it on video. There’s an awkwardness to climbing on a bike that weighs just as much as I do and then accelerates far faster than I anticipated. The learning curve was steep for me, but it plateaued quicker than I would have imagined.

Apathy Turned to Love

Hunting on e-bikes
Scouting bears with e-bikes on private ground; (photo/Rachelle Schrute)

This is one of the longest tests I’ve ever run without much coverage outside our Best E-Bikes for Hunters list. As we speak, I’m wrapping up the review, and I am only waiting for the newest model to arrive for comparison.

Long story short, I rode this bike everywhere. It’s been scouting bears, hunting elk, hunting deer, picking up groceries, picking up animal feed, and just ripping around town on a beautiful summer day when I would have normally been driving my truck.

It’s turned early morning rips up an old logging road in a quad into silent trips before light, where I can still hear the world around me.

These bikes, for hunting and day-to-day life, have become one of my favorite items. A trip into town to get supplies has become less of a chore and more of an excursion. I’m not hopping in the truck; I’m hopping on that dang e-bike for fresh air, sunshine, and zero gas. For my rural lifestyle, where riding a traditional bike just isn’t practical, this extends my reach and makes the mundane … fun.

When my dogs get the wiggles, I can ride through the pasture without struggle, and they love the challenge of keeping up with me. When you’ve got crazy bird dogs and noisy hounds, a tool that can wear them out is worth its weight.

In the elk woods or scouting bears, it’s such a low-impact replacement for any other motorized vehicle. For our traditional backwood crew, mounting a longbow to an e-bike is a fun dichotomy.

So, consider my coat turned.

Where I Sit Now With E-Bikes

e-bike for hunting
An e-bike sitting on private land overlooking places no bikes should be; (photo/Rachelle Schrute)

I think I will get hate from both sides of this argument, and I don’t care.

There are certainly places I still don’t want to find e-bikes. I’m a conservation-over-access kind of gal. I don’t want wheeled vehicles in places that are just too pure to be trodden by anything more than a foot. They’re the same places I don’t want ATVs, UTVs, or any Vs.

I understand that they allow easier access for older and disabled hunters. I understand they are an asset to our injured veterans. That being said, at some point, all places are not for all of us.

Hunting is hard, and when I get to the point that I can’t get to those places I love on foot, I’ll take solace in knowing there’s a younger, fitter generation enjoying the splendor of the land because it’s protected from being over-trodden. Sometimes, protection is far more important than access.

However, However, However …

(Photo/Rachelle Schrute)

HOWEVER (that’s a big however), e-bikes are a valuable addition to a hunting quiver for those who may otherwise choose four-wheeled means. They are less impactful than just about any other form of transportation that isn’t foot or traditional pedaling.

I’ve also softened my stance on their acceptance on the trails. Now that I’ve been on one of the most powerful e-bikes available, I understand that there’s only so much speed that can happen on a mountain trail, regardless of motor. People will use them far too fast, but you’ll have that with any bike. As I said, the impact that happened with an out-of-control mountain biker was violent, no motor included.

I’m landing between the extremes on how they should be classified and regulated. I’m definitely of the opinion that they’re more motorcycle than bike, but also that they are more beneficial to the landscape than your loud-ass brap machines (which I also happen to test).

E-bikes have a place, and it’s not the trash as I previously thought. Change may be hard to stomach — but I’m at peace with this change of heart. I’ll proudly mount my bow to the front of one and be that guy I used to make fun of.


The Best E-Bikes for Hunting in 2024

E-bikes have become a staple in the hunting industry. With so many to choose from, which one do you need? Check out our favorites for 2023. Read more…

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