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Outdoor Life - Outdoor life is a column by Mick Bohonis.
2012-04-27 at 16:52

Trucking in the outdoors

There is hardly a hardcore hunter or angler out there who doesn’t own a truck, an ATV or both. 

An outdoorsman’s truck is as important to him as is his rifle or fishing rod, and although it’s the most expensive piece of equipment a hunter and angler will spend money on, it’s pretty much a necessity in order to get out there end enjoy what we do.

With spring here and the walleye opener just around the corner, it goes without saying that there will be more trucks, boats and ATVs visible now than ever.

ATVs (all terrain vehicles), commonly known as quads, have risen in popularity as well and are just a smaller version of the four-by-four truck. Between these two vehicles a guy could pretty much go where he wants to and get back off the beaten path where the big ones are!

Today’s new trucks are just short of awesome, and the Big Five and I now say five, simply because Toyota and Nissan have stormed into the market with their full size Tundras and Titans to compete with Chrysler’s Dodge Ram, General Motor’s Sierra and Silverado and Ford’s F150. 

With so much to choose from, a sportsman really needs to take the time to look at what their main focus is going to be during the year of angling and hunting.  If you’re going to be concentrating on fly fishing on the edge of small streams and creeks, then you may really not opt for a full size pickup and it may be more realistic looking at a mid size SUV (sport utility vehicle) or mid size pick up.

For me there is no question what I require with the places I go and the gear I have. A full-sized pickup is a must even though I have to get a mortgage to fill it. At a cool $1.40 a litre, it costs me $174 to fill my rig! Yep, you read it correctly. Three fills a month and it’s a mortgage payment.

A lot of things need to be taken into consideration when looking at purchasing a truck, things like box size, cab size and power train?

Are you going to be towing a boat, travel trailer, or fifth wheel? And probably one of the most important aspects is the engine itself.

Do you need big power or can you get away with a six-cylinder and better mileage?

Do you need the extra torque of a diesel engine?

The short box seems to be the most popular choice on the road, however, tail gates remain open when an ATV or snow machine are put in the back which is not the safest thing in the world and space for gear is reduced greatly.

With the manufacturers offering so many configurations and options, it’s not hard to find the most practical truck for your specific needs. Of course price comes into play and new trucks are not cheap. My first house back in 1988 was $52,000 and now you pay that for a new top of the line truck.

Although the domestic trucks are going on massive sale blitzes trying to stay afloat, it still will cost you a pretty penny by the time it’s signed, sealed and delivered.

With the U.S. and Canadian dollar at par, I have heard of more and more Canadians  flocking south of the border purchasing their new rigs and making significant savings.

Buying a truck is one thing, but decking it out with accessories is another. Bug deflectors, running boards, tonneau covers, winches, side rails, boat racks, skid plates, lift kits, after market performance parts, bigger tires, cold air intakes, box liners, tool boxes and many other items are a big part of an outdoorsmen’s rig.

Rarely do you see a truck without some extras on it and in most cases another $3,000 to $4,000 can be easily dropped on accessorizing your truck after purchase.

A few of the most common after market accessories are lift kits, box liners, running boards and bug deflectors. Some serious off road enthusiasts will also go for winches and heavy duty suspension parts to conquer the nastiest of back roads and right of ways.

The ATV is another piece of equipment that is getting a lot of attention these days, and in talking to retailers in the area, sales seem to be on the rise. Polaris, Arctic Cat, Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha and the rest of the pack are all competing full strength.

Years back when I was the proud owner of one of the first early ’80s ATVs made by Honda, I was a pretty popular guy when it came to extracting moose out of the woods, as the back-breaking chore of quartering and carrying was now going to be a thing of the past. My 1983 Honda Big Red three-wheeler was a high tech machine that started something that today has grown into a multi-million dollar empire.

If you are a serious big game hunter, then I would bet donuts to dollars you will probably have one of these machines residing in your garage.

Hunters and anglers have it better now than ever when it comes to getting back into places that in years past was unheard of unless you were prepared to walk for miles carrying your gear on your back.

Some say this is not a good thing in the name of environmental protection and conservation, however, they are here and used by many, so it’s now up to the stewards of our land, which include biologists, environmentalists, conservationists, loggers and the hunters and anglers themselves to maintain a clean balance and use these machines responsibly and ethically in order for us to continue to use them and enjoy them for years to come.

Remember safety always has to be number one, so always wear a helmet when operating an ATV.


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