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Tricks to Keep Your Hunt Truck Performing Well All Season

Cleaning your rig, checking fluid levels and tire pressure, and charging hand-held devices are all essential tasks for successful hunting.

Tricks to Keep Your Hunt Truck Performing Well All Season

Some hunters overlook the idea of cleaning a rig up, checking fluid and oil levels, taking a look at the tire inflation levels, etc. after a hunt is done.

While I am in no way the most wild and crazy road warrior in the hunting world, I’ve still seen my share of adventure from a vehicle in a couple of decades plus while western big game hunting, deer hunting, and wingshooting.

In fact, I’ve seen just a little bit of everything in those trips, things that are now badges of honor or great campfire stories, even if they didn’t seem like it at the time.

Once, I had to walk several miles—in one direction, mind you—when a friend asked if I thought we could make it down a muddy backroad miles from anywhere, then failed to wait for my reply. I wish I could say that’s the only time I’ve been woefully stuck, but it’s not.

Other times, I’ve been so deep in mountainous backcountry that only a satellite phone could reach the outside world. On one trip, there was a bear that somehow gained access to the inside of our vehicle—now that’s a crazy story. At other times there were vehicle problems, on occasions there were weather challenges, and every once in a while, just plain old misfortune.

Yeah, if you’re going to climb in your truck or SUV for a hunting adventure this fall, expect to have a few stories to tell when you get back home. And not all of those stories will be about the bucks, bulls, or birds you were seeking either.

Someone who understands that quite well is Joe Ferronato of Petersen’s Hunting Magazine, a Montana resident who chases all types of game in his home state. And while Montana can be extremely rugged with mountains, valleys, and sweeping prairie land vistas, some vehicle adventure each fall can come from nothing more than driving down the road in Big Sky Country.

"In a typical hunting season, I'll spend days, if not weeks, in my truck," said Ferronato. "I cover a lot of ground, especially out here in Montana where I've spent (as much as) seven hours (on the road) just heading out for a weekend hunt. And that's just one way."

Mind you, much of that time is highway time as Ferronato drives to his hunting area. But other portions of his time afield are spent driving into backcountry areas on remote dirt roads, two-tracks and rough terrain that can’t always be adequately described.

While there isn't much that can be done when it comes to roadside or backcountry misfortune while on a hunting trip, there are ways to keep your rig performing well now and in the future, as well as ready for the next road trip adventure.

Here are a few ways to consider making that happen:

Pre-Trip Maintenance

I learned this lesson from my late father-in-law Pat, as well as my good friend Don Coley, a former assistant fire chief in a North Texas community near my home. While others would fret over what clothes were packed for a trip, what food items were secured, and what the weather might be down the road, these two gentlemen lived by the Boy Scouts’ motto of “Be Prepared” in regard to their rigs.

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For them, that meant their vehicles were in tip-top working order before a big adventure. In the days leading up to a departure, trucks and SUVs had been given a thorough pre-trip inspection by these do-it-yourself types to make sure that the oil was changed, tires were properly inflated, fluid levels were good, and other such vehicle preventative maintenance chores on the pre-trip checklist had been carefully attended to.

And if I remember correctly, there was also something of an emergency possibles kit prepared and stowed away in the trucks and SUVs, a box with extra engine oil, washer fluid, spare belts, tool kits, supplies to fix a punctured hose or tire, a battery jump pack, a come-along winch to get out of being stuck, a shovel, a tow strap, bright flashlights with extra batteries, and even a roll or two of duct tape.

A decade or two ago, such chores weren’t always easily done. But today, such pre-trip preparation is made easier by the complete family of products from Star brite, including antifreeze and coolants; engine oil and lubricants; liquid electrical tape and sealants; windshield washer fluid and de-icing fluid; and fuel additives.

With Star brite, it’s virtual one-stop shopping to make sure your vehicle is ready to head on down the road!

Communication Gear

In today’s Smartphone era, some have never been in a situation where they couldn’t communicate with the outside world. And in many parts of North America, communication is as simple as having a charged-up phone and a signal from a nearby cell tower.

But what happens if the mobile phone gets smashed, the electric juice is gone, there’s no ability to recharge, severe weather or a winter storm is hampering things, or no cell signal is available? Or what about if you’re miles deep in the backcountry and the engine quits, the transmission goes down, or you break an axle in deep snow or mud? Yeah, I’ve seen much of the above happen at some point or another during my travels and perhaps you have too.

In those situations, you may need something else to communicate with beyond a basic mobile phone in your back pocket. That can mean something like a satellite phone, or in the case of my friend Don in years gone by, something like a CB radio.

These days, remote communication is made much easier thanks to products such as the Garmin inReach Mini Handheld GPS Satellite Communicator or the Garmin inReach Messenger among others. Such devices are small, affordable, give two-way messaging without cell coverage, offer interactive SOS alert capabilities, feature the ability to share your location with others, have an integrated digital compass, and even provide weather information.

It's a brave new world, and thankfully, it’s easier to communicate in that world, no matter how far you are off a well-worn path.

Post-Trip Cleanup

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Make sure your truck is clean before and after a hunt.

While this might seem like a chore that can wait, it’s actually pretty important to ensure your rig remains in good working order, is cleaned up, and is ready to go again at a moment’s notice if a friend calls.

In all fairness, many hunters overlook the idea of cleaning a rig up, checking fluid and oil levels, taking a look at the tire inflation levels, etc. after a hunt is done. After all, we’re tired, and oftentimes the post-hunt cleanup job is complex since Ferronato admits that when you're driving around, especially out in the vast terrain of the West, you put a lot of miles on a vehicle and it often becomes a catch-all for trash and gear.

While some problems might be minor and don’t need to be attended to, giving your vehicle a little post-trip inspection and care can help you head off problems like a damaged tire, an oil or transmission fluid drip, or a radiator that has sprung a small leak after a week in rugged terrain. Suspension systems can take a beating, electrical wiring can get jostled loose, and a host of other problems can subtly arise when you’re out chasing critters this fall.

While this might seem like overkill, it’s kind of like fly fishing in saltwater and getting back to your room long after the sun has gone down. No matter how tired you might be, or how enticing it is to grab something to eat and then catch some snooze time, you need to rinse your fly rod, fly reel and other gear off with fresh water so that you don’t wake up to rust and gear that is no longer functioning the way it should.

The same concept can easily go for your vehicle too after a long and tiring trip to the deer woods or western big game mountains—pay me now, or pay me later when it comes to vehicle maintenance and care.

One area that often gets overlooked in post-trip work on your vehicle is cleaning it up inside and out, but even there, Star brite products have hunters covered so they can get their rig ready for a night out on the town for a little post-hunt dinner celebrating a successful return from the wild.

From brushes and microfiber cloths for the outside of the vehicle to odor control inside the vehicle, Star brite has a host of products here too.

One of the best post-trip products from Star brite is the Ultimate Xtreme Clean, something of the ultimate crud-buster after days on the road traveling through muck and mire, ice and snow, mud and dust, and so much more. As Ferronato notes, it can even help clean up the bed of a pickup truck after a trip to the meat processing plant with a dressed bull elk or whitetail buck taking a ride.

With the Ultimate Xtreme Clean product, the special chelating agents attack everything from road grime to bug and bird deposits to greasy smears. By breaking the bond that holds them to the surface, cleaning is easy and such crud can be wiped away without heavy scrubbing. Better yet, despite the power of the chelating agents, nothing is caustic or dangerous in Ultimate Xtreme Clean, making sure that it is safe to use on all metal, fiberglass, plastic, chrome, stainless steel, and rubber surfaces along with not damaging the vehicle’s finish.

As Ferronato notes, that means that post-hunting trip clean-up chores are made much easier now, helping a hunter wrap up one Ultimate Season, prepare for the next one, and have an enjoyable night out on the town with a loved one and friends to celebrate it all.

With everyone all smiles and the vehicle cleaned up and ready to go again, that might be the ultimate way to wrap up a great season in the woods, right?




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