January 13, 2010
Bourjaily: Why Minivans Make Great Hunting Vehicles
By Phil Bourjaily
My Jeep Liberty chose the last Saturday of pheasant season to suffer power steering problems quite possibly related to -13 overnight lows. When it warmed up to -1 or so, I closed out the year taking my wife’s car – a 2002 PT Cruiser – to the field. Jed’s box fit neatly in the back with the seats folded out of the way. It held me, my older son, our guns and gear, a snow shovel just in case, and, on the way back from the field, a couple of unlucky roosters.
I tried to snap a picture of the car for you, but it was too cold for my camera to work. Taking the PT Cruiser reminded me that the Jeep is actually the first 4WD hunting vehicle I’ve ever owned. Before that, I drove minivans for hunting. In fact, I drove minivans for hunting and I liked it. There: I said it and I don’t care who knows it.
When we replaced whatever van we were hauling kids in with something newer, I got the old van. My first hunting van was a 1985 Plymouth Voyager; the second, a 1995 Ford Windstar.* Say what you will about their lack of manly appeal, they were extremely practical. I could haul three passengers and immense amounts of gear in either one: dog boxes, decoys, layout blinds, you name it. A corn-fed 145-class whitetail fits in the back of a Windstar, too. I know because I tried it.
The big back hatches were great for loading and unloading gear, as were the sliding side doors. In fact, when I went looking for new hunting vehicle I briefly considering buying a new Dodge Caravan (it was a great deal) before I found a late model Liberty at an unbeatable price. I like the Liberty, but I am still getting used to its lack of cargo space compared to my old vans. If I had found the vehicle pictured above when I was car-shopping, it would have solved all my problems.
Anyone else out there willing to admit to hunting from a minivan or the family sedan?
*A famous lemon. Nearly half the 95-98 Windstars blew headgaskets which leads in short order to thrown rod and a ruined engine. When it happened to mine, Ford put a factory rebuilt engine it, and it was trouble-free after that.