My truck is my home away from home. I find this sentiment holds true for most of the people I know who spend a lot of time outdoors or a lot of time in their truck. A vehicle can say a lot about a person, such as what they enjoy doing or even what they do for a living.
A vehicle is usually the second largest purchase most people make, next to their house. And like a house, vehicles often serve more than one purpose. Like most of the people reading this, I’m a truck guy. I will leave the car discussion out because I don’t own a car nor do I plan on owning one. If you’re reading this and you own a car … I’m sorry.
As an avid outdoorsman who works on a ranch/farm and guides hunters for a living, my truck isn’t just my main form of transportation, it’s also my recreational off-road vehicle, entertainment center, recliner, hardware store, storage unit, office, kitchen and sometimes even my bedroom. To serve all of these functions, I outfit my truck much like I do my house but on a smaller scale.
For starters, I have to have four-wheel-drive. I live in Colorado at an elevation of 7,000 feet. If I’m going to get around in inclement weather that is a must. I also try and protect my truck with add-ons such as a skid plate, bed liner or flatbed and steel grill guard. Satellite radio and a DVD player help turn my rig into an entertainment center for me, my clients and the kids, if we are on a long trip. Another important feature is front seats that recline all the way back should I need to take a siesta. They also provide a comfortable place to sleep if I spend the night somewhere and don’t want to set up a camp.
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ON THE INSIDE
What I keep inside my truck is as important as the features and add-ons I have outside. Some are obvious must-haves. For example, I always have toilet paper stashed somewhere in my truck. Oftentimes, my truck serves as my office. I keep a notebook in my console so I can inventory cattle tags or jot down notes from clients who call about hunting trips. Also stashed in the console are extra pens, a cell phone charger and a cell phone booster, so I can get better service in remote areas.
Other important items include a small tool kit for simple truck repairs or for tinkering with things that break down in the field. And I always carry a headlamp and small hydraulic jack. The cheapo jacks that come with trucks these days are made for city drivers in my opinion, or people who rarely if ever have to change a tire. AAA just isn’t an option where I am most of the time. I also carry a plug kit for tire punctures and a small air pump I can plug into my truck to air up a leaking or repaired tire.
A shovel and an axe are also important items I often use and like to keep in my truck bed.
I also keep an emergency supply of food and water in my truck in case I’m ever stranded or a trip runs over and I run out of supplies. Matches and a lighter or two are requisite survival items. People die every year from freezing to death when a simple lighter or match could have saved their lives. I keep a sleeping bag and some extra warm clothes tucked underneath my seat in case I encounter a bad snowstorm or severe change in weather.
Too many people assume they won’t get stranded in a freak storm or other type of natural disaster or event that leaves them stuck without supplies or access to water, food, shelter or heat. I am amazed at how often I see people in vehicles during winter who have only the clothes on their back and a pair of dress shoes. They are putting themselves in jeopardy if something happens and most don’t realize or even consider that.
Other important items include a small take-down fishing rod in case I run into a good fishing spot. I also keep a Thermacell and some bug spray in my truck so my clients and I aren’t eaten alive if the mosquitoes are bad. It might seem overboard, but you’ll always find sunscreen in my truck. In the Colorado desert or up in the mountains a sunburn can cause major discomfort or even ruin a trip.
I also carry quite a bit of ammunition that’s stored in MTM protective cases. Most paper or cardboard ammo boxes fall apart or tear with use and I like to keep ammo for several firearms in my truck. I keep two pairs of Walkers Ear Muffs and a few pairs of protective eye wear in another MTM storage box in case an impromptu shooting match comes up. Sometimes prairie dogs just have to be managed and tin cans have to be perforated.
I often swap out different firearms in my truck based on what I am doing or where I am going. For day-to-day use, I almost always pack my Rock River .223 Rem. for coyote management. Most of my driving is done on our ranch or dirt roads on other ranches I lease and having a coyote rifle handy is mandatory. I also carry a Taurus Tracker .357 Mag. and/or a Heritage .22 revolver for small game and for plinking.
I don’t baby my guns. Most see pretty rough use and have to be able to function accurately and dependably after be- ing beat up and bounced around in the truck. I keep my AR tucked between my driver’s seat and the console where it’s easy to grab and relatively concealed if I pull up to talk to someone. On my infrequent trips to town I can just throw jacket over it and it’s relatively hidden from view.
If I am running hounds for clients who are after a mountain lions, I often throw a Rossi 92 lever gun chambered in .357 Mag. or .44 Mag. in the truck. I usually opt for the .357 Mag. because I like that I can swap ammo with my .357 Mag. Tracker revolver. Sometimes clients have issues with equipment or weapons and I like to keep some back-up options for them. A lever is lightweight, small, accurate and easy to stash in the truck in case it’s needed. We might have to hike back to the truck to get it, but it beats having to go all the way back to the house if a client forgets bullets or has a gun malfunction.
KNOW THE LAWS
It’s important to know the laws and regulations for where you are at before transporting any firearm or ammunition in your vehicle. Laws can vary widely from state to state, oftentimes with little or no common sense involved. It can be very confusing and frustrating when traveling through multiple states.
I have literally had to stop before crossing a state line and unload my firearms and lock up guns in cases and lock up ammunition in a separate part of my vehicle just to comply with regulations. That to me is an infringement of my Second Amendment rights, but that’s a whole other can of worms.
Besides knowing the laws for legally carrying firearms and ammunition in your vehicle, it is also important to know the hunting regulations. Most states have laws regarding the use of lights and firearms and in some cases you could possibly receive a game violation ticket even though you’re not hunting but happen to shine your headlights onto a field or tree line or use a spotlight to look at something and have a firearm in your vehicle.
Besides the hunting and plinking firearms that are often in my truck, I always carry a concealed weapon. I am often in and out of my truck, tractor, Kawasaki quad, or the house and although I sometimes upgrade to a larger caliber, my usual carry gun is a small Taurus PT-22. This small .22 fits comfortably in my pocket and with eight in the clip plus one in the pipe it provides plenty of firepower.
The nice thing about its small size — besides the fact that I can carry it comfortably — is that it easily fits in my truck console as well if I have to enter an establishment that doesn’t allow firearms. If I am going to leave my truck for any length of time, I have a small Hornady cable-lock box that is attached to my seat frame for safe storage of my handguns.
I generally steer away from the phrase doomsday prepper, but the truth is I have what I need to survive an emergency situation in my truck. I have a four-door truck because I am often transporting clients and need the extra room. Even if you have a small truck or heaven forbid, a car, in my opinion you should at a minimum have extra food, water, clothes, firearms (at least one) and extra ammo.
So if you are reading this and thinking about how woefully unprepared you might be for an emergency, take a moment to figure out “What’s in your truck,” and if you need to add some items before it’s too late. It might save your life or the life of someone else because you were prepared. It is better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it!