More and more over the years our Wildlife Management areas have become a huge draw for off-roaders. Now, I’m not an off-roader, so to speak, but I do leave the pavement often. The difference is that when I take to the woods, I have a purpose for being there which goes far beyond trying to tear up the trails and a vehicle. I’m usually either hunting or scouting new hunting spots and photography. I’m out in the state forests very often and lately I’ve been having many opportunities to meet folks because they keep getting stuck in the sand or mud and need me to pull them out.
More often than not I find them walking out onto the main grade, flagging me down to ask for help. Of course, I always offer to give them a ride back to whichever mud or sand pit they’re hung up in before pulling them free with my old 2-wheel drive Chevy. So, I thought I’d put a bit of advice here for any who may be contemplating a bit of off-road driving.
Carry along a shovel. This can be any kind of shovel that won’t break when you need to dig out mud, sand, snow, or rocks from around your truck. I like the folding handled style that you can easily find at most any military surplus store.
Hi-Lift jack. No matter what type of rig you have it is too heavy for you to move when you get it stuck. A Hi-Lift will give you the mechanical advantage you need to push, pull, or lift your truck back onto the trail. No other single tool is as versatile and valuable as a Hi-Lift Jack once you learn to use it.
And surely you’ll want a tow strap. These things are like jumper cables as you’ll need someone else’s vehicle to make them work. Don’t waste your money on cheap no-name straps, and don’t take chances with old frayed ones either. Go ahead and spend the extra few dollars for quality.
Obviously, it’s best not to get stuck to begin with, so try to avoid driving through ruts made by someone with taller tires or risk getting your frame high centered, else you’ll be in for a good long dig. Don’t stop forward progress once committed, as driving through mud is part traction and part propulsion, so keep wheel speeds high.
Sawing the steering wheel left and right while applying the throttle will clean mud from your tires and often allow you to get a better grip, just know that this same technique is also great for snapping U-joints. So don’t force it if the tires are committed in a rut.
And another suggestion, buy a Wildlife Management Area Stamp. Hunters are the only ones legally required to possess a stamp to use the public lands, but purchase one anyway and give us a hand in affording the upkeep on our beautiful properties.
As always, if you have any feedback, suggestions or even just want to share a good hunting story, give me a shout at [email protected]. God bless and good hunting!