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Hunting rig essentials

Brady Miller and Chris Neville broken down - 3rd season CO

All photo credits: Chris Neville

General rifle season 2018. Eastern Montana. No cell service, cruising along a dirt road in search of deer in my wife’s truck when all of a sudden we encounter a flat tire. I begin to start the swap to the spare. Unbeknownst to me is that I previously removed the spare tire iron kit to use on my truck at some earlier date...and failed to return it back into my wife’s truck. So there we were, stuck, without cell service, without tools and, essentially, helpless. Luckily, after an hour of waiting, a local rancher saw us, asked if we needed help and got us back on the road in a couple of hours. Though thankful for his help, it was embarrassing. From then on, I have learned and now keep dedicated equipment for these events. I also make sure to do a good pre-traveling check to ensure that ordeal doesn’t happen again.

When making a trip to go hunting (or traveling for any reason), you spend quite a bit of drive time on paved or unpaved surfaces. Personally, I use my vehicle to cover a diverse amount of country from the gumbo roads of eastern Montana to the unmaintained rugged forest service roads of central/western Montana and all the way down to the arid desert of Arizona come January. I’m sure most of you are the same. Needless to say, the vehicle you choose to take for these trips must be self-reliant in some cases and prepared for unforeseen events whether its a day trip or a couple of days packed into your favorite honey hole. 


Here are some items to consider adding to your vehicle for some peace of mind

Items to consider adding to your vehicle for some peace of mind

Recovery kit

When it comes to using a vehicle in desolate areas or on unforgiving terrain, there may not be a tow truck service available or even a cell phone signal. If you spend as much time traveling in your vehicle as I do then you know that a good recovery kit is vital — both for yourself or in the event another traveler needs help.

The items I keep for my personal recovery kit are as follows:

  • Tire repair/plug kit ($15 on Amazon) with a bottle of soapy water.
  • Recovery traction boards (X-Bull brand Amazon Special)
  • These aren’t always needed, but are very handy in many ways.
  • ARB 30’ snatch strap
    • Has built-in elasticity that allows "yanking" of the stuck vehicle to minimize damage. You can also pull felled trees off the road with it. 
  • 12v portable air compressor
    • Have one strong enough to inflate your tires. The one I will be using is a Viair 300p.
  • Bottle jack with two small 1’ long 2''x10'' boards to aid in stabilizing and help prevent sinking into the ground. 
  • Common hand tools
  • Adjustable wrench, screwdrivers, pliers, flashlight, socket set and any other tools you think you may need.
  • Spare parts
  • Lug nuts, rubber hoses, extra serpentine belt, valve stems, fuses, etc. 

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These will vary per vehicle depending on what you’re able to repair in the field.

Another thing to note that may be obvious is to check the condition of your spare tire every month or so. Be sure to inspect for dry rot, correct pressure and that the apparatus holding it in place is still in good working order. Spare tires when stored underneath SUVs and trucks get neglected until they are needed. 

First aid kit

Along with a first aid kit inside my hunting pack, I dedicate one to my vehicle, too. You never know what may happen to you, or, once again, what or who you may stumble upon. From car wrecks on the highway in the dead of winter to rollover accidents on the trails. Being prepared to assist when needed can save someone’s life. Also, taking an entry-level first aid class will help a lot in the event you have to perform aid. Here are some items to consider for your first aid kit. 

  • 2 tourniquets
  • 2 emergency "space" blankets
  • 2 rolls of gauze
  • QuikClot Gauze
  • 2 rolls of medical tape
  • Superglue
  • 5 to 7 pairs of nitrile gloves
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Alcohol wipes
  • Burn cream
  • Triple antibiotic cream
  • Assorted band-aids
  • Tweezers
  • Firestarter
  • Paper towel
  • Small pack of wet wipes
  • Medical shears

I like to build my kit to be able to render aid to about two to three people. 

Extra fuel (optional)

Fueling up

When traveling distances where fuel stations are few and far between — like in eastern Montana — carrying extra fuel may be necessary. If you have the room to throw in an extra 10 gallons, it could be in your best interest. 

I have left myself stranded too many times, wishing I had these items to get me back on the road and, now, I have learned better. Being prepared doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Just be sure to have the essentials that would be needed for common issues such as: flat tires, minor injuries and stuck vehicles. You know what your vehicle is capable of and the terrain it drives upon, so be sure to have items that will keep you in the hunt. I prefer to customize my recovery kits as opposed to a complete kit offered in stores. 

Be sure to add your recovery item suggestions in the comments below.

Stay safe and hunt hard!

For more information on other considerations for gear items in your truck, you can check out an article by Brady Miller called, Preparing for the worst: Late season safety gear to keep in your truck.

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