FORESTRY CONTRACTOR William Shorthouse spends much of his working life on the roughest of rough ground.

Based in Kinloch Rannoch near Pitlochry, but working throughout Highland Perthshire and Tayside, the WM Shorthouse family run business is the 'go to' for landowners looking for an experienced personal touch with their forestry work, whether that be thinning, clearing or planting, rather than bringing in one of the increasingly faceless uber-contractors that dominate the sector – and William is proud of that independence, and his ability to take on jobs that might not add up for other operators.

Highly valued in his armoury of machines is the Can-Am Outlander 650, a six-by-six workhorse that sure-footedly snakes across the battlefield conditions of newly cleared old forestry sites on steep hillsides, with the power that's needed to bring in the huge numbers of saplings required by a modern afforestation team.

Make no mistake, although he sees value in being a family-scale business, William's workers do not muck about, and once a job is quoted and agreed, the onus is on them to get in and do the work to schedule, so there is no time for unreliable machines – or unreliable workers.

When The Scottish Farmer visited, WMS was in the process of hiring, and William promised that new employees with the right skills would have no shortage of work, in some of Scotland's most spectacular scenery, in a financially healthy sector that was ready to reward youngsters willing to put their backs into it. On the sites that WMS deals with, automated planting is often not an option, and it is down to muscle power and spadework to get the trees into the ground. As such, workers can expect fresh air, a healthy paycheque and very sound sleep.

As my weekend firewood activities have made me something of a dab-hand with a chainsaw, even if I say so myself, I was tempted by the notion of this epic new career in the hills , but I think Mr Shorthouse was probably looking for younger, fitter and less likely-to-be-off-with-a-bad-back workers, so I had to content myself with admiring the operation as an outside observer.

Mr Shorthouse gave the Can-Am some real wellie around the site of the firm's current job, its segmented axle arrangement allowing it to cling like an insect to the sharp undulations of the ground, recently cleared of old trees and marked out for new ones.

With a selectable four or six wheel drive, the Outlander 650 has an increased workload capacity and softer engagement for smooth starts, enabled by the Continuously Variable Transmission system. This features an extra low range L-gear and an improved cooling facility when dragging heavy cargo and riding on rough terrain, delivering increased efficiency.

The 'Generation 2' chassis combines the performance of the Rotax 650 V-Twin engine with precision-engineered handling, comfort and control provided by the Double TTI rear suspension and the Tri-mode Dynamic Power Steering to improve handling. For his purposes, Mr Shorthouse had also taken advantage of a local dealer's add-on double wheels on the middle axle.

The Outlander 650 boasts towing and carrying capacities of 750kg and 408kg respectively. There is an internal rear cargo box, suitable for long tools, and a customisable flatbed that can take a hefty load of logs, or hay, if put to agricultural use. To make best use of the towing capacity, Mr Shorthouse had a custom-built trailer attached, with a double wheel on a 'tumbler' axle, ensuring that the load behind the Outlander could go anywhere it went. The effect when in motion was rather like a sure-footed centipede, snaking across the landscape without ever losing its grip.

Can-Am recently received a silver award in the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland’s Technical Innovation awards for its Anti-lock Braking System, developed specifically for its all-terrain vehicles in partnership with Bosch. As a result, the Can-Am Outlander MAX XT 570 was showcased in the Technical Innovations area at 2019's Royal Highland Show.

However, there could be no better place to see the value of the machine than in the hands of an experienced operator, skelping off up into the high hills, towing a trailer full of young trees, stakes and spades.