I think it’s more the sound of the atv.
When deer hear an atv, they know it’s a hunter.
You drive close to your stand, get off and go to the stand.
The deer hear it going in but not going out, so they avoid that area.
If you are going to use an atv, have someone, drive, and you ride to the stand, then the atv driver drives back out.
The deer will think, hey it’s only a rider, no hunter.
And feel more comfortable.
Then the deer buck, or doe will walk in the area, you are in.
Or use a battery powered atv, where theres no sound.
What ever you do be carefull, and
remember to use ear plugs
The Hearing you save will Be Yours
We use ATVs. Ride them to right near the stands and just run them up in the brush. We have seen no adverse effects.
Now if I am going into a known or suspected bedding area - I'm definately walking in.
But realistically if you are going to a stand where you are going to get into an ambush positon because you believe deer are going to move thru later then there might be a deer around when you ride in but others will be by.
I watched a nice buck come across a couple beanfields right thru an old brushy fenceline between the fields. The fenceline has scattered trees and thickets. Where did he cross that fenceline? Right at the ATV that was parked there. He never faultered a second.................until I shot him.
I believe that it is all in the way that you hunt that counts.
The person in my opinion with the closest real answer would be Jrbsr.
Now in my own defense, I don't physically own a four wheeler, but I do own a pick up truck. Where I hunt, which isn't very far off the road - due to limitations from a couple of automobile accidents, I park the truck within sight of my tree stand and I have had some success in the past couple of years.
But the thing that helps me is that there is a natural gas well directly below my tree stand and there is someone that maintains the gas well on a weekly basis and someone that comes from time to time to empty the brine tank beside the gas well. So between the township road, which might get 5 automobiles a day and the gas well that might get two vehicles a week, and not many people has actually shot at these deer to spook them, they don't pay an automobile any mind as long as it is moving and not stopping.
I have hunted turkeys and small game there in the past and have seen deer standing on a ridge not 100 yards from the gas well - watching the gas well attendant do his work. I'm sure that with their natural attraction to salt that if the brine truck driver spills a little salt water on the ground that they will come down and lick it up. I have seen deer that will walk over to a gas well brine tank and lick the salt off the pipes - on a leaky tank.
My advice is to get there two hours before you can legally hunt.
Give the game plenty of time to get used to you driving back to your stand and remain motionless on your stand before it gets light outside and you will be ok. Deer can see you and your four wheeler even better in the dark then they can in the light. The headlight will always give you away. Deer can see in the dark just as well as they can during the day time. So parking it a distance away from your tree stand - just to keep the smell away and then having to walk 1/4 of a mile isn't going to make that much of a difference to them one way or the other. After a while, they will associate the sound of your four wheeler to a hunter in the woods and they will be more cautious when they approach that area.
So basically when you ride to your stand - you are training the deer to know when you are going to be there. Deer don't look up, they look out. So just because you don't see them looking up at you when you are sitting in your tree stand doesn't necessarily mean that they don't know that you are there. It just means that they are willing to tolerate you - just like the deer I was telling you about that goes down to the gas well to look for a little salt after the truck driver leaves. Truck noise - gas well man, truck noise - a little salt on the ground. Four Wheeler noise- hunter.
I have seen it go both ways. Ive driven to my stand and parked underneath it and have had deer come out and it not even bother them. Ive seen deer while on my atv and they just look at but the second I stop their gone. My largest buck to date came from me driving into the woods parking it and then hicking up the trail. I could see my 4 wheeler parked and the 8 pt came out rite next to it. One shot and he was down. Here's anothe example, I was still hunting last Thanksgiving and I had hiked in and set up a ground blind. It was a cold blue bird sky day, at about 8:30am another 8 pt walks out and I shot and missed (buck fever). Then the buck walks off and at that very moment a person on an atv drives by on a little trail that he had made to his stand. The buck turns around and well needless to say he's hanging on my wall. I think its a combo of it all. If its early AM b4 daylight I will drive in but I don't drive in the middle of the day, I'll walk in.
FWIW, I've been bowhunting and have seen deer react negatively to ATVs in the woods. Let me be more specific; I've seen mature deer react negatively to ATVs. I've watched them actually move away from the sound of them moving through the woods. The guys on those ATVs never even knew those deer were there, moving away from them, so from their perspective they didn't even know they were affecting the deer.
IMO, I'd never drive one to within a quarter mile of one of my stands, because the mature bucks certainly associate them with with hunters. That's not to say you won't see bucks when using an ATV, but it definitely changes the odds.
The few times I rode an ATV to near where I was going to hunt, I never saw anything... Now I walk a good hike into the woods, and hike out...If I have gotten a shot off, I go find my arrow (if season), and look for blood trail. Once found, or not found but have evidence of a hit, I hike back to truck or ATV. Take off some clothes and unload gear. Then drive into where I was wanting and proceed tracking, with ATV/Truck close..... So in short the only time I drive any mechanized into/near the woods is if I shot a deer.