Okay, so here’s the deal: You’ve got the time, and permission from your spouse, for a serious upland hunting trip. Maybe more than one, because often they become TV shows and are tax-deductible. Maybe bird hunting is your lifestyle (there are worse, I keep telling my wife), and your rig should support it. So, what do you drive?
I’ve had pickup campers and pull-behind trailers, and spent many years sleeping on the ground with a bit of canvas or nylon between the elements and me. I’ve logged hundreds of extra miles moving from hunting grounds to hotel room and back. For sheer convenience, this rig has them all beat, hands – er, tires, down.
The Ford Econoline with 6.0 liter turbo diesel is built on a ¾-ton Super Duty chassis, and went into the conversion process looking like your basic plumber’s truck. It came out like a lot of hunters’ dreams-come-true.
The top was the first thing to go, a lightweight fiberglass substitute cantilevered to the sides was custom fitted and weather sealed. It raises about 2-1/2 feet, with walls of heavy-duty waterproof fabric. There’s a bunk up there if you need it.
The interior is fully camperized, with galley, passenger seat that converts to a full-sized bed. Storage along the walls, under the bed, and under the sink allow for groceries, gear, and other necessities. Furnace, water tank and electrical systems nestle under the bed as well.
Once the interior was finished, it was off to California for a little suspension work. The six-inch lift required fabricated parts for the steering, suspension, fluids and wiring along with the four wheel drive conversion. Heavy-duty anti-sway bars help the rig track like it’s on rails. And just for fun, the guys added nerf bars that double as pressurized air tanks.
Reunel saw the project and built bumpers front and rear from stainless steel and when the PIAA rep saw that, he threw in a bunch of lights, which are probably illegal on the streets where I use them most. We hung a winch, jerry can rack, Hi-Lift jack, spare tire rack and axe-shovel tool on the bumpers just in case. If I had to use any of them, I’d have to consult the owner’s manual first. Throw in my Irish Setter boots & apparel and the Tri-Tronics collar, add one versatile hunting dog and we’re off.
Overkill? Absolutely! But with batteries charged and fuel topped off, I can go just about anywhere. And when I get there, simply turning off the key means I’m home. There have been times when I’ve stepped out the door and before I can get locked and loaded, Buddy’s on point. And that, as the commercial says, is priceless.
Yes, it weighs a ton. Actually, almost five tons (9,450 pounds). Takes a while to get up momentum and to stop. And every refueling is painful at about 10 miles per gallon. The vegetarian sandal-wearers hate it, and Al Gore wouldn’t be caught dead in it, but for hunting at the edge-of-the-earth and sometimes just beyond, it works just fine, thank you.
Watch for it on the Awesome Upland Road Trip and feel free to say hello. I’ll give you the fifty-cent tour and a cup of coffee. In the comments section below tell me where you would take it to hunt in your new Irish Setter boots and you just might win a pair!