By Cassie Steele –
While hunting participation dropped by about two million in 2017, it still remains strong at 11.5 million participants. More than just being a hugely popular pastime, hunting is the backbone of conservation across the US. To boost this decline in numbers, the US Department of Interior is expanding hunting and fishing opportunities across public lands to give the next generation better opportunities to pursue this great American tradition. Whether you’re new to hunting or an experienced expert, a reliable pickup truck is essential for a successful hunting trip. It needs to get to you and your gear to remote, off-road locations and back again with minimal hassle. However, with so many different options, choosing the right pickup truck isn’t easy. Here are essential features every hunter should look for.
Four-wheel drive (4WD) provides essential traction for off-roading, winter driving, and other harsh conditions you encounter as a hunter. It powers all four wheels simultaneously; a good truck should let you switch between 4WD and two-wheel drive as needed. A user-controlled part-time system can reduce the truck’s speed and allow you to safely drive over rocky and steep terrain. However, a full-time system offers greater flexibility as it gives extra traction as needed. Hunters need a full-time system which best carries them over dirt tracks and wet, muddy, and icy terrain.
Hunters should use a truck with a locking differential, which locks both rear wheels so they provide traction — regardless of the amount of traction actually available. Without this feature, tractionless tires just spin pointlessly. A locking differential makes it easier to safely drive on snow and ice. This feature costs about $400 extra and is an essential investment for country dwellers.
Protective truck bed
Your truck bed must be big enough to carry your equipment, including all your camping and hunting gear. Standard truck beds are about six feet long, but you’ll need one roughly eight feet long to fit large carcasses. Make sure your truck bed is also coated or at least has a protective rubber mat. This keeps items in place so they don’t slide around, as well as protects the truck from damage. A polyurethane coated bed is usually the best option for hunters. It can withstand chips and scratches from hooves, antlers, and equipment. It’s also easier to clean and stain resistant. While thin coatings are cheaper, they’ll damage easier than thicker ones. Ideally, you want about a ¼ inch coating.
These features are essential for successful hunting trips and all other outdoor pursuits. Make sure you research your options thoroughly before purchasing. You’ll also need to consider your potential future needs, so your truck can accommodate your outdoor pursuits for years to come.
Cassie Steele is a freelance author and frequent contributor to Everything Country.