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What's the Best Way to Pack a Downsized Hunting Rig?

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June 19, 2012

What's the Best Way to Pack a Downsized Hunting Rig?

By Chad Love

A while back Phil Bourjaily had a really good blog post about downsizing your hunting rig that generated a ton of comments, both pro and con. Now, I haven't spoken with Phil and can't say for sure whether he's going to take the downsizing plunge or not, but for me, the issue's (mostly) been settled for a while. I inherited my wife’s beloved 2000 Subaru Forester a few years ago when she decided to buy a new car. The plan was to use the Forester as an economical daily driver and save my big, gas-guzzling, full-size four-wheel-drive truck as a dedicated hunting/fishing/wood-hauling rig.

But as I quickly found out, the little all-wheel-drive Forester is a much more handy and capable vehicle than I initially gave it credit for. And over the past couple years I've been driving the Subaru as much or more than my truck. It tows my 16-foot skiff without a hitch and has enough cargo room for a dog crate and gear for several days. I've driven it on fishing trips to Colorado and numerous bird-hunting trips all up and down the plains states. It's tough, nimble, economical, not bad off the pavement, dead-reliable and best of all, it's long, long been paid for. So when I read Phil's blog, it sealed the deal: I decided this would be the year to commit fully to the "smaller-is-adequate" camp (please, no "that's what she said" jokes...) and use the Subaru as my main hunting rig.

But all is not peachy in sub-compact land. Waterfowl hunting isn't really an issue, as I only have one retriever and can easily fit her and all my decoys, waders, gun, etc., in the back when I'm not hunting out of the boat. But bird season presents some problems. For one, I now have two pointing dogs, which means I now need two crates, and twice the food, water and other assorted dog-related gear (e-collars, Astros, tie-out stakes, etc.) that you need on trips. This, of course, has a ripple effect on how much other gear I can haul. So right off the bat, I'm going to need either some type of roof storage or a small trailer either for the dogs or gear. Plus, since I'm now going to be using the Subaru for all my trips, I'm going to have to at least mildly upgrade its off-road capability with more aggressive tires and bolt-ons like skid plates, etc.

So this decision is not without some trade-offs, expense and required adaptation. Whereas before my truck was not so much a vehicle as a rolling emergency preparedness bunker, I'm now forced to make some decisions about what is truly necessary and what is a bit extraneous. There is, I must admit, a pleasing Zen-like minimalist quality to the whole process. Which is good, because you're probably going to need some Zen to figure out what to do when you're stranded out in the middle of nowhere without the tools to extract yourself, because they "took up too much space."

So here's my question, and it's directed to all the guys who have already taken the (excuse the expression...) smaller package plunge: How did you adapt to less space, less ground clearance, less overall capability? Did you add exterior cargo space to your vehicle? Did you upgrade its off-road capabilities any? Any downsizing tips you'd care to share? How has it worked out for you so far? My first long-distance bird-hunting road trip is coming up in late September, so I've got three months to get my project Subaru ready for the fall. Any tips?

Comments (29)

Top Rated
All Comments
from jhbeard wrote 1 year 43 weeks ago

The roof rack didn't work for me. Boosting and lowering gear wears you out. Heavier items don't even make it up there. Sliding items onto a small trailer wins the loading contest and adds the possibilty of backing a trailer into a garage, keeping it packed, and popping it onto a hitch.

But try to park a trailer at a crowded lunch spot, you will miss having everything up on the rack. Another option, a hitch mounted cargo carrier, offers easier loading than the rack and easier parking than the trailer. If nothing else, you can get a small one for less than a hundred bucks and throw on the dog food and cooler.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from ejunk wrote 1 year 43 weeks ago

frankly, it sounds to me like you're already on the right track, Chad. Subarus are a great compromise.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from fezzant wrote 1 year 43 weeks ago

I just got a 4WD. Until this truck, I have generally been using a Saturn station wagon as my hunting vehicle. I have to watch my ground clearance, but most of the time I can get to the hunting spots. It really just means I have a longer pack-out than I might otherwise.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from DSMbirddog wrote 1 year 43 weeks ago

I don't hunt waterfowl anymore but that would be a problem. My Toyota 4 Runner handles all my needs and if I need to take the 4 wheeler and more stuff I have a 6 X 10 utility trailer.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from ejunk wrote 1 year 43 weeks ago

Also, my buddy Richie and I have successfully used a Chevy Aveo hatchback for duck hunting trips. We can fit 2-3 dozen decoys, two guys, two guns, one dog and associated accouterments in there. It's tight, and obviously vulnerable to truly nasty weather, but it works. the most important lesson IMO is the simplest: where there is a will, there is a way.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from sgtsly wrote 1 year 43 weeks ago

(e-collars, Astros, tie-out stakes, etc.) Me thinks you should minimalize your gear. e-collars...reeeeally.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jere39 wrote 1 year 43 weeks ago

POR (Press on regardless),
I used my 96 4Runner for 14 years and 250k miles, and loved it. It was admittedly smaller than a full size SUV, but bigger than a Forrester. 99% of my trips are with my Dad, so it was my dog, my gear, my camp supplies, and Dad with his coat and guns. I could pack carefully at my house, then saving enough room for a a coat, gun, and Dad made it easy. But at 250k miles, I decided to freshen up and traded in for a Toyota Tacoma Access Cab. Great ground clearance, bought the 4cyl for improved gas mileage. And plenty of storage, though, not quite as secure as the 4Runner. I keep my guns and my Brittany, and the few electronics in the Access cab area, and pack the bulk in the back, trusting my fellow hunters to respect the stuff back there. I've never been disappointed, knock on wood.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Trapper Vic wrote 1 year 43 weeks ago

I know there are no SUV's made totally in the USA, but I stick to Jeep,gm or ford. hitch hauler, trailor or throw it in the boat!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from action1250 wrote 1 year 43 weeks ago

I will take my Suburban and NEVER look back!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Gtbigsky wrote 1 year 43 weeks ago

Its the same principal as packing your pack for a strenuous day or days on foot. You take wait you need and leave the rest. Look at what you initially think you need and reduce that weight as much as possible. Also roof racks and small trailers help out a ton! When i was driving a Subaru. I really liked the bumper hitch grate. With ample tie downs i could carry a fair amount of gear. It also was handy for transporting things I didnt want to put in the trunk I.E. bloody animals.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Roger Spencley wrote 1 year 43 weeks ago

For years I drove a Ford Ranger, then a Ford Bronco II Then lastly a Geo Tracker. They all served the job, with a lot of adjustment for the Tracker. Now having been retired for some 8 years, and with a higher disposable income, I drive a Ford Lariat F150. The best way to pack a down sized rig is to remove it from the Tonka toy, and put it in a real truck

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 43 weeks ago

I use a 99 Jimmy for all my hunting needs. My brother gave me a full size Tule top carrier last fall but I usually got along fine before then. I am 6'1" and have no trouble loading and unloading the carrier. Open the door and step in to get yourself up high enough to pull stuff in and out. I actually brought a 7.5 hp Merc outboard home from Montana in the top carrier last fall without any problems (strapped it to a surplus plywood backboard first). Chad, if your Suburu has two sets of garment hanger hooks like my Jimmy, buy a pair of extentsion racks for them. You can then slip guns, fishing poles, or collapsable dog crate up there and strap them to the garment rods with bungy cords. I'll send you a photo. I used the partition section from my pup's wire fold-up cage as a barrier to keep the dogs in the cargo area. I simply used plastic retainers to attach the partition to the front seat headrests. I travelled well with three dogs and all my upland gear all the way from Northern Ontario to Montana without any problems. Before the cartop carrier I stowed some of my personal gear in the passenger seat. Also, you'd be surprised how much stuff you can stow behind and under the back seats when they are laid down in the cargo position. Chad, much of the gear you are complaining about I don't even have. Rolled up newspaper is much more portable, disposable, and reliable than e-collars (but we have been down that road enough times already). Tie-out stakes? The dogs stay in the motel room with me. Period! If the motel doesn't like it, I go somewhere else. What the heck is an Astro? Why drag a bunch of dog food along? Every country grocery store is stocked with plenty and usually a suprising variety. I buy it in small bags as needed, usually every couple of days. Costs a little more but hey this is a hunting trip. Pick up a collapsable water jug. It's all I ever took with me when packing my horses in the old days. Used the same one for fifteen years and it never sprang a leak. You should be able to find various sizes at just about any outdoors supply outlet. During the road trip just pick up a dish of water when you fuel up then put the dish away. Watch out for those hitch-type carriers. I have heard LOTS of complaints about lack of quality and the things falling apart in short order. Definitely pay more bucks for the better quality if you decide to go that route. The big problem with them is what to do with the dang things when you get where you're going. I can't imagine having one thrown in the middle of a relatively compact motel room, especially if it's covered with mud or dust. The top carrier is always going to be out of the way. As far as off-road upgrades, I never have worried much about that. Regular all-season radials have served me very well. I get plenty of hunting without having to climb Mt Everest. In fact, most of the best hunting is within sight and earshot of a major highway! In Eastern Montana when it rains you keep your butt on the pavement or in the motel room. Big tires and add-ons won't help you a bit. Anyone who ventures out when it's soggy is only going to tear up some farmer's real estate for no reason at all - it's impossible for man or beast to hunt in that clay gumbo until the wind blows it dry (which can literally just take a couple of hours). I would, however, probably recommend tires with a bit more tread than I use if you'll be driving much on the gravel roads. Great Plains gravel is notoriously shaley and sharp which can be very hard on regular street tires. I have always had plenty of room for a normal-sized tool box with all the necessities for emergency repairs: vice-grips, 3/8 socket set, 1/4 socket set, (both socket sets with supplimental metric sockets), various screwdrivers, file, set of box end/open end wrenches in both English and metric, small can of oil, etc.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ben Blaker wrote 1 year 43 weeks ago

As the Subaru Forrester is also a 4x4, why not attack a small out door trailer for the extra lighter kit. There are models called I believe "Outlander", which have extra ground clearance, and are also extra rugged, although they are much more expensive than the normal cheapo trailers, they do the job they were designed for, and have been used on African and desert safaries with complete success

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 43 weeks ago

Okay, an "Astro" is a dog GPS. Pffft! If you absolutely must have all the gadgets, I'm sure something that size will fit in the space under the back seat when its folded down.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 43 weeks ago

Another problem with the hitch carriers on SUVs is that they extend the vehicle length significantly and tend to get hung up when going through low spots. It's also a pain getting stuff out of the back of the vehicle cargo area if you can't open the tailgate (which requires unloading and removing the hitch carrier). They are semi-useful for highway road trips there and back but that's about it. In the meantime while you're hunting what do you do with them? I'll take the car top version hands down.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Proverbs wrote 1 year 43 weeks ago

Keep in mind that if you have a special hunting trip coming up and you have a small vehicle, you can rent pickups at most rental outfits.

Regarding hitch carriers: If you need one of these, your vehicle most likely did not come with a hitch as part of standard equipment. Why not have one attached to the front of your vehicle instead of the back? All but the smallest cars have the structural integrity needed to weld a lightweight hitch to the front (some welding creativity may be required). Then you can locate your hitch carrier up front and retain access to the trunk or hatch.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 43 weeks ago

Proverbs, I see several problems with that idea. Main one is overheating the engine. It can get pretty hot out during upland season, depending on what part of the country you're hunting. You'd be surprised how easy it is to overheat if there's no good airflow through the radiator. Also, many of the uni-body vehicles simply are not going to have anything very solid to hook a front hitch to no matter how creative one tries to be with a welder. And I would also be a bit concerned about increasing the weight over front wheel drive suspension. They're not designed for that.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from bassman06 wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

I have to use a pick up, my bow goes in the passenger seat, my bag in the back of the cab and the hogs always are in bed, under a tarp. That's my version of pigs in a blanket!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from RockySquirrel wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

First; Gotta love the pix.

Second; Gotta love my wrangler. It hauls my boat and occasionally all my camping gear and is only a 4 cylinder with 175K miles, One day I am afraid I am going to push her too far over loaded going up a mountain, but so far she keeps going. Do my own oils changes and tune ups.

During hunting season I have a cargo carrier and that works great. Yes the cheap ones fall apart and I have welded mine once already (in 10 years), but works great also. No way I am putting a fresh shot anything in the cab with me. I hate !)@&& ticks.

Note: If you are going to use the cargo carrier for deer/Elk season, make sure you pack a tarp and straps or you meat is gonna be seasoned for you with road salt.

Am I the only one that noticed that when the cargo carrier is loaded the balance shifts from the front wheels and they don't have the same grip. So you need to over steer?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Rocky, I recall a similar situation with my short bed one-ton stock truck that I built from scratch years ago (several picks of it in my profile). When the horses, tack, and elk were all loaded in the back the steering was pretty squirrely. Had to carefully herd that truck down the road. Got stopped once by highway patrolman who suspected I was a drunk driver. That truck had overload springs on the overload springs but it still didn't seem to make much difference. Doesn't take much off center to throw things out of whack.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from spentcartridge wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Vehicles are like houses - you tend to fill the space that's there. If you really need more room in the car, strap the crates on top or break them down and let the dogs curl up in the back seat. My guess is you'll have plenty of room for what you really need.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from dale freeman wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

What do you'll think of a 4 cyl. nisson, 4whl.dri., for a hunting truck ?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from dale freeman wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

What do you'll think of a 4 cyl. nisson, 4whl.dri., for a hunting truck ?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Josh Giannino wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

I find that half ton pick ups with a toneau cover are the ultimate hunting rig,you have room for gear, they are generally more efficient then a 3/4 pr 1 ton truck, handle hauling trailers of gear, and boats. and they still can handle ,most offroad adventures with an addition of a 2 inch lift kit if clearance is a struggle. I hunted with my 98 f-150 for 2 years before it died and set up like that,minus the toneau cover i could get anywhere haul what i needed and still not go broke.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sam Helton wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

I drive a Jeep Wrangler... not very much room in the back for much gear. When I take a buddy hunting and we both have our climbing stands, bows (in cases), and clothing in scent lock bags/containers, there is barely enough room left in there for air to breath. A $70 carry-all is amazing. Plug it in the hitch and easily carry both stands on the back. Also comes in handy for rabbit hunting. Bolt a dog box down to the carry-all and you're good to go.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Togue23 wrote 1 year 41 weeks ago

Currently using a ram with the 5.7 crakned up to over 425 horse. Gets me about 11mpg in the city and 16 on the highway. Late season bow in Maine goes into December, and I wouldn't be able to get out of my hunting spots without the 4x4 and ground clearance. Never know when you'll get a foot or two of snow dropped on you!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Red Salas wrote 1 year 37 weeks ago

Holy smokes Im blown away at the pic. How in the heck did he get all that on that car?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jose Del Borracho wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

I use to have both a Dodge Ram 1500 (5.7 l) and Ford F-350 (7.5 l)....both 4x4. But last year I switched to a....wait for it....wait for it.... Chrysler Town & Country!

I know....I know...I've gotten a lot of beef about my choice...and teased about being a "wanna be soccer mom" but bare with me.

The Chrysler Town & Country AWD (3.3 l)...that's 4x4 for those not in the know...is an AWESOME platform. It's great on gas (23 mpg vs 8-11 mpg for the trucks), pimp'n out leather all around and super roomy for dogs and gear.

I dropped 4x air shocks on the vehicle, LT tires and a PTO driven air compressor (I got from an 1980's Mercedes 300 SD that ran the door locks to adjust the shocks/tire ride over ANY road conditions you could imagine), a trailer hitch (it can pull 6000 lbs without blinking and more then enough for most boats including my jon boat and 20ft center console) and a roof rack carrier.

I got more room (AND a DVD player with surround sound for nights you have to camp in the car due to bad weather) but also can get in an out of any scenario a truck can....at half the gas costs. Using the hitch I can use a deer lift for field dressing, add a basket on the back for more gear when surf fishing or extended trips...or even...like I did, build a hitch mounted winch incase I need to drag someone elses truck out of the mud. Which I've had to do on several occasions. ;)

Big trucks are nice..but paying big bucks at the pump isnt. There's plenty of options to build an outdoor adventure rig for those that think outside the box!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jose Del Borracho wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

Oh...and I forgot to mention the turbo. Always add a turbo if you are going to go places over 9,000 ft. It adds 20-30% more air intake then normal naturally aspired engines. I've easily cruised up mountains, like Pikes Peak, that other trucks struggled to get up.

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Post a Comment

from jhbeard wrote 1 year 43 weeks ago

The roof rack didn't work for me. Boosting and lowering gear wears you out. Heavier items don't even make it up there. Sliding items onto a small trailer wins the loading contest and adds the possibilty of backing a trailer into a garage, keeping it packed, and popping it onto a hitch.

But try to park a trailer at a crowded lunch spot, you will miss having everything up on the rack. Another option, a hitch mounted cargo carrier, offers easier loading than the rack and easier parking than the trailer. If nothing else, you can get a small one for less than a hundred bucks and throw on the dog food and cooler.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from ejunk wrote 1 year 43 weeks ago

frankly, it sounds to me like you're already on the right track, Chad. Subarus are a great compromise.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Proverbs wrote 1 year 43 weeks ago

Keep in mind that if you have a special hunting trip coming up and you have a small vehicle, you can rent pickups at most rental outfits.

Regarding hitch carriers: If you need one of these, your vehicle most likely did not come with a hitch as part of standard equipment. Why not have one attached to the front of your vehicle instead of the back? All but the smallest cars have the structural integrity needed to weld a lightweight hitch to the front (some welding creativity may be required). Then you can locate your hitch carrier up front and retain access to the trunk or hatch.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from fezzant wrote 1 year 43 weeks ago

I just got a 4WD. Until this truck, I have generally been using a Saturn station wagon as my hunting vehicle. I have to watch my ground clearance, but most of the time I can get to the hunting spots. It really just means I have a longer pack-out than I might otherwise.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from DSMbirddog wrote 1 year 43 weeks ago

I don't hunt waterfowl anymore but that would be a problem. My Toyota 4 Runner handles all my needs and if I need to take the 4 wheeler and more stuff I have a 6 X 10 utility trailer.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from ejunk wrote 1 year 43 weeks ago

Also, my buddy Richie and I have successfully used a Chevy Aveo hatchback for duck hunting trips. We can fit 2-3 dozen decoys, two guys, two guns, one dog and associated accouterments in there. It's tight, and obviously vulnerable to truly nasty weather, but it works. the most important lesson IMO is the simplest: where there is a will, there is a way.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from sgtsly wrote 1 year 43 weeks ago

(e-collars, Astros, tie-out stakes, etc.) Me thinks you should minimalize your gear. e-collars...reeeeally.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jere39 wrote 1 year 43 weeks ago

POR (Press on regardless),
I used my 96 4Runner for 14 years and 250k miles, and loved it. It was admittedly smaller than a full size SUV, but bigger than a Forrester. 99% of my trips are with my Dad, so it was my dog, my gear, my camp supplies, and Dad with his coat and guns. I could pack carefully at my house, then saving enough room for a a coat, gun, and Dad made it easy. But at 250k miles, I decided to freshen up and traded in for a Toyota Tacoma Access Cab. Great ground clearance, bought the 4cyl for improved gas mileage. And plenty of storage, though, not quite as secure as the 4Runner. I keep my guns and my Brittany, and the few electronics in the Access cab area, and pack the bulk in the back, trusting my fellow hunters to respect the stuff back there. I've never been disappointed, knock on wood.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 43 weeks ago

I use a 99 Jimmy for all my hunting needs. My brother gave me a full size Tule top carrier last fall but I usually got along fine before then. I am 6'1" and have no trouble loading and unloading the carrier. Open the door and step in to get yourself up high enough to pull stuff in and out. I actually brought a 7.5 hp Merc outboard home from Montana in the top carrier last fall without any problems (strapped it to a surplus plywood backboard first). Chad, if your Suburu has two sets of garment hanger hooks like my Jimmy, buy a pair of extentsion racks for them. You can then slip guns, fishing poles, or collapsable dog crate up there and strap them to the garment rods with bungy cords. I'll send you a photo. I used the partition section from my pup's wire fold-up cage as a barrier to keep the dogs in the cargo area. I simply used plastic retainers to attach the partition to the front seat headrests. I travelled well with three dogs and all my upland gear all the way from Northern Ontario to Montana without any problems. Before the cartop carrier I stowed some of my personal gear in the passenger seat. Also, you'd be surprised how much stuff you can stow behind and under the back seats when they are laid down in the cargo position. Chad, much of the gear you are complaining about I don't even have. Rolled up newspaper is much more portable, disposable, and reliable than e-collars (but we have been down that road enough times already). Tie-out stakes? The dogs stay in the motel room with me. Period! If the motel doesn't like it, I go somewhere else. What the heck is an Astro? Why drag a bunch of dog food along? Every country grocery store is stocked with plenty and usually a suprising variety. I buy it in small bags as needed, usually every couple of days. Costs a little more but hey this is a hunting trip. Pick up a collapsable water jug. It's all I ever took with me when packing my horses in the old days. Used the same one for fifteen years and it never sprang a leak. You should be able to find various sizes at just about any outdoors supply outlet. During the road trip just pick up a dish of water when you fuel up then put the dish away. Watch out for those hitch-type carriers. I have heard LOTS of complaints about lack of quality and the things falling apart in short order. Definitely pay more bucks for the better quality if you decide to go that route. The big problem with them is what to do with the dang things when you get where you're going. I can't imagine having one thrown in the middle of a relatively compact motel room, especially if it's covered with mud or dust. The top carrier is always going to be out of the way. As far as off-road upgrades, I never have worried much about that. Regular all-season radials have served me very well. I get plenty of hunting without having to climb Mt Everest. In fact, most of the best hunting is within sight and earshot of a major highway! In Eastern Montana when it rains you keep your butt on the pavement or in the motel room. Big tires and add-ons won't help you a bit. Anyone who ventures out when it's soggy is only going to tear up some farmer's real estate for no reason at all - it's impossible for man or beast to hunt in that clay gumbo until the wind blows it dry (which can literally just take a couple of hours). I would, however, probably recommend tires with a bit more tread than I use if you'll be driving much on the gravel roads. Great Plains gravel is notoriously shaley and sharp which can be very hard on regular street tires. I have always had plenty of room for a normal-sized tool box with all the necessities for emergency repairs: vice-grips, 3/8 socket set, 1/4 socket set, (both socket sets with supplimental metric sockets), various screwdrivers, file, set of box end/open end wrenches in both English and metric, small can of oil, etc.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ben Blaker wrote 1 year 43 weeks ago

As the Subaru Forrester is also a 4x4, why not attack a small out door trailer for the extra lighter kit. There are models called I believe "Outlander", which have extra ground clearance, and are also extra rugged, although they are much more expensive than the normal cheapo trailers, they do the job they were designed for, and have been used on African and desert safaries with complete success

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 43 weeks ago

Okay, an "Astro" is a dog GPS. Pffft! If you absolutely must have all the gadgets, I'm sure something that size will fit in the space under the back seat when its folded down.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from bassman06 wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

I have to use a pick up, my bow goes in the passenger seat, my bag in the back of the cab and the hogs always are in bed, under a tarp. That's my version of pigs in a blanket!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Rocky, I recall a similar situation with my short bed one-ton stock truck that I built from scratch years ago (several picks of it in my profile). When the horses, tack, and elk were all loaded in the back the steering was pretty squirrely. Had to carefully herd that truck down the road. Got stopped once by highway patrolman who suspected I was a drunk driver. That truck had overload springs on the overload springs but it still didn't seem to make much difference. Doesn't take much off center to throw things out of whack.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from spentcartridge wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Vehicles are like houses - you tend to fill the space that's there. If you really need more room in the car, strap the crates on top or break them down and let the dogs curl up in the back seat. My guess is you'll have plenty of room for what you really need.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from dale freeman wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

What do you'll think of a 4 cyl. nisson, 4whl.dri., for a hunting truck ?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Trapper Vic wrote 1 year 43 weeks ago

I know there are no SUV's made totally in the USA, but I stick to Jeep,gm or ford. hitch hauler, trailor or throw it in the boat!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from action1250 wrote 1 year 43 weeks ago

I will take my Suburban and NEVER look back!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Gtbigsky wrote 1 year 43 weeks ago

Its the same principal as packing your pack for a strenuous day or days on foot. You take wait you need and leave the rest. Look at what you initially think you need and reduce that weight as much as possible. Also roof racks and small trailers help out a ton! When i was driving a Subaru. I really liked the bumper hitch grate. With ample tie downs i could carry a fair amount of gear. It also was handy for transporting things I didnt want to put in the trunk I.E. bloody animals.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 43 weeks ago

Another problem with the hitch carriers on SUVs is that they extend the vehicle length significantly and tend to get hung up when going through low spots. It's also a pain getting stuff out of the back of the vehicle cargo area if you can't open the tailgate (which requires unloading and removing the hitch carrier). They are semi-useful for highway road trips there and back but that's about it. In the meantime while you're hunting what do you do with them? I'll take the car top version hands down.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 43 weeks ago

Proverbs, I see several problems with that idea. Main one is overheating the engine. It can get pretty hot out during upland season, depending on what part of the country you're hunting. You'd be surprised how easy it is to overheat if there's no good airflow through the radiator. Also, many of the uni-body vehicles simply are not going to have anything very solid to hook a front hitch to no matter how creative one tries to be with a welder. And I would also be a bit concerned about increasing the weight over front wheel drive suspension. They're not designed for that.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from RockySquirrel wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

First; Gotta love the pix.

Second; Gotta love my wrangler. It hauls my boat and occasionally all my camping gear and is only a 4 cylinder with 175K miles, One day I am afraid I am going to push her too far over loaded going up a mountain, but so far she keeps going. Do my own oils changes and tune ups.

During hunting season I have a cargo carrier and that works great. Yes the cheap ones fall apart and I have welded mine once already (in 10 years), but works great also. No way I am putting a fresh shot anything in the cab with me. I hate !)@&& ticks.

Note: If you are going to use the cargo carrier for deer/Elk season, make sure you pack a tarp and straps or you meat is gonna be seasoned for you with road salt.

Am I the only one that noticed that when the cargo carrier is loaded the balance shifts from the front wheels and they don't have the same grip. So you need to over steer?

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from dale freeman wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

What do you'll think of a 4 cyl. nisson, 4whl.dri., for a hunting truck ?

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from Josh Giannino wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

I find that half ton pick ups with a toneau cover are the ultimate hunting rig,you have room for gear, they are generally more efficient then a 3/4 pr 1 ton truck, handle hauling trailers of gear, and boats. and they still can handle ,most offroad adventures with an addition of a 2 inch lift kit if clearance is a struggle. I hunted with my 98 f-150 for 2 years before it died and set up like that,minus the toneau cover i could get anywhere haul what i needed and still not go broke.

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from Sam Helton wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

I drive a Jeep Wrangler... not very much room in the back for much gear. When I take a buddy hunting and we both have our climbing stands, bows (in cases), and clothing in scent lock bags/containers, there is barely enough room left in there for air to breath. A $70 carry-all is amazing. Plug it in the hitch and easily carry both stands on the back. Also comes in handy for rabbit hunting. Bolt a dog box down to the carry-all and you're good to go.

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from Togue23 wrote 1 year 41 weeks ago

Currently using a ram with the 5.7 crakned up to over 425 horse. Gets me about 11mpg in the city and 16 on the highway. Late season bow in Maine goes into December, and I wouldn't be able to get out of my hunting spots without the 4x4 and ground clearance. Never know when you'll get a foot or two of snow dropped on you!

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from Red Salas wrote 1 year 37 weeks ago

Holy smokes Im blown away at the pic. How in the heck did he get all that on that car?

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from Jose Del Borracho wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

I use to have both a Dodge Ram 1500 (5.7 l) and Ford F-350 (7.5 l)....both 4x4. But last year I switched to a....wait for it....wait for it.... Chrysler Town & Country!

I know....I know...I've gotten a lot of beef about my choice...and teased about being a "wanna be soccer mom" but bare with me.

The Chrysler Town & Country AWD (3.3 l)...that's 4x4 for those not in the know...is an AWESOME platform. It's great on gas (23 mpg vs 8-11 mpg for the trucks), pimp'n out leather all around and super roomy for dogs and gear.

I dropped 4x air shocks on the vehicle, LT tires and a PTO driven air compressor (I got from an 1980's Mercedes 300 SD that ran the door locks to adjust the shocks/tire ride over ANY road conditions you could imagine), a trailer hitch (it can pull 6000 lbs without blinking and more then enough for most boats including my jon boat and 20ft center console) and a roof rack carrier.

I got more room (AND a DVD player with surround sound for nights you have to camp in the car due to bad weather) but also can get in an out of any scenario a truck can....at half the gas costs. Using the hitch I can use a deer lift for field dressing, add a basket on the back for more gear when surf fishing or extended trips...or even...like I did, build a hitch mounted winch incase I need to drag someone elses truck out of the mud. Which I've had to do on several occasions. ;)

Big trucks are nice..but paying big bucks at the pump isnt. There's plenty of options to build an outdoor adventure rig for those that think outside the box!

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from Jose Del Borracho wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

Oh...and I forgot to mention the turbo. Always add a turbo if you are going to go places over 9,000 ft. It adds 20-30% more air intake then normal naturally aspired engines. I've easily cruised up mountains, like Pikes Peak, that other trucks struggled to get up.

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from Roger Spencley wrote 1 year 43 weeks ago

For years I drove a Ford Ranger, then a Ford Bronco II Then lastly a Geo Tracker. They all served the job, with a lot of adjustment for the Tracker. Now having been retired for some 8 years, and with a higher disposable income, I drive a Ford Lariat F150. The best way to pack a down sized rig is to remove it from the Tonka toy, and put it in a real truck

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