No one told me when I bought my hunting truck, a 2004 Jeep Liberty, that it is an unmanly vehicle and that the vast majority of Liberty drivers are women. So what? It is paid for and it has given me little trouble. I have hauled lots of dead animals in it. It is small but with careful packing, most of the time it holds what I need it to hold: stacks of guns and ammo for the range, a dog box or two for pheasant hunting, a deer cart and a deer carcass.
A few times a year I fill every cubic inch of its cargo space with goose decoys and, like any goose hunter, I wish I could carry more. Every once in a while I toss a Poke Boat on the rack for duck hunting. But, really, the Liberty is the worst of both worlds as a hunting vehicle: it is small, yet also not very good on gas. It is powerful enough for towing boats and trailers (neither of which I own) and thus gets 20-ish mpg on the highway, much less in town. I have started thinking it’s time for something new that will give me a break on fuel costs.
Apparently I am not the only one who feels this way. I stopped to see my friend Tom this morning, who I hadn’t seen in a while. He is a serious traveling bird hunter who takes several dogs — granted they are Brittanies, so they’re small — all over the Midwest. He has always had pickups in the past. Now there is a Ford Escape about the size of my Liberty in his driveway.
“Is that your hunting truck?” I asked him.
“Yep,” he said. “It has a four-cylinder engine. I drove it to South Dakota last week and got 32 miles to the gallon.”
He went on to say that two of his friends who also used to drive fullsize pickups have scaled back as well: one traded for a Honda CR-V, the other a Subaru Outback. They are all happy, hunting lots, and spending less money on gas than I do. Is this is a trend? Who else has downsized and is happy about it?