Whether you’re prepping for deer season or about to head west on a once-in-a-lifetime elk adventure, having your truck ready is critical to the success of your hunt. Here are seven ways to equip your rig for whatever nature throws at it.
First, make sure everything works. Fill washer fluid and test wipers, check the oil, and make sure the air filter is clean. Ensure that both headlights function and that the four-wheel-drive engages solidly. Check tire pressure, and make sure the lug wrench and tire jack are present and functional. If you’ll be pulling a trailer, verify that trailer brake and running light function is proper. Lastly, swing by an auto-parts store and have a technician test your vehicle’s battery. If your battery isn’t strong, replace it. That way you won’t get stranded at a remote trailhead.
TIRE REPAIR KIT
The most common hunting vehicle ailment is a flat tire. A flint-slashed tire is a goner, so make sure your spare tire is in good shape and consider carrying an extra spare when you’re hunting flint-rock country. Thorn punctures are easier to deal with: Just stow a plug kit (the kind with the little tar-coated rope pieces) and a small cigarette-lighter air compressor behind the seat. The plugs make an awesome temporary fix, even for punctures in tire sidewalls. Use the provided tools to clean the hole and install the plug, and then air the tire back up with the compressor.
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CHAINS AND SHOVEL
Getting stuck can cost you a hunt and put you and your hunting buds in danger. Stow a full set of heavy-duty tire chains in a bucket and keep it in your truck anytime you go off road. A four-by-four vehicle with chains on all four tires can grind through astonishingly bad mud, snow and ice. Learn to put the chains on your tires without having to move your truck—just drape them over the top of the tires and fasten at the very bottom of the tire. Keep a shovel in your vehicle too; if you get stuck you can shovel mud or snow away from your tires so you can install the chains.
Assemble a compact survival kit containing enough nonperishable food and water to last a couple days. Add a sleeping bag, a set of base layers and a change of clothes. That way if you break down or get inextricably stuck in a remote area, you’ll have supplies to keep you alive while you solve the problem. A fire-starting set, flashlight with extra batteries and small first-aid kit should round out your emergency supplies.
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TOOLS, CABLES AND STRAP
Consider this a survival kit for your truck. Assemble a small set of common-size wrenches, vise-grip pliers, some screwdrivers and a roll of electrical tape. Add jumper cables and a sturdy tow strap. Top your tool kit off with a tire pressure gauge, and stow the whole thing permanently in your rig. Trust me, you’ll need it eventually.
Install an LED light bar on your front bumper or atop your rig. It’ll add a significant margin of safety when you’re driving roads with heavy deer, elk or livestock activity. It’ll also be handy for setting up camp or processing game after dark. Just make sure the on/off switch is ready-to-hand, or have it wired into your high/low-beam switch, so you don’t temporarily blind oncoming traffic.
Set yourself up to successfully care for your harvest by keeping a meat-care kit in your vehicle. Include a solid cooler, clean game bags, some contractor-grade trash bags, a small cutting board, heavy-duty gallon zip-close freezer bags, rubber gloves, paper towels and some vinegar for cleaning up afterward.