SUCCESSFUL HUNTING TRIPS often come down to careful planning and mobility. Whether you’re hunting public land close to home or have journeyed halfway across the country for a high-mountain adventure, the ability to make quick course corrections in terms of your hunting area can be the difference between seeing game or engaging in a week of bird watching. To have that flexibility, you need to prep your 4×4 to go light.
You can only take campers so far into the backcountry (where the biggest game lives), and no one wants to put up and tear down a wall-tent camp more than once. The solution: make use of the latest crop of camping gear and tent/trailer options so you can live in comfort without being tied down.
On the extreme end, the manifest for ultralight truck-camp hunting is truly Spartan-a small, quick setup tent; propane lantern; single-burner backpacking stove; dehydrated food; five-gallon water container; and just enough clothing and gear to get by. With this gear I’m good for several days of self-sustained hunting, can relocate in a blink, have full off-road capability and still have room in the truck for my ATV and game.
Hunters scoping for Himalayan tahr in the Southern Alps of New Zealand
** Note: Soft Focus at 100%, best at smaller sizes
If this sort of truck camp is a bit too lean for your taste, there are some terrific solutions from tent-trailer manufacturers that provide full off-road mobility–allowing you to go where even small RVs and pull-behind campers cannot go–offer up much more comfortable accommodations than a ground-based bivy or dome tent and still remain easily deployable.
Several companies in the U.S. make off-road-compatible tent trailers–Tentrax, Campa USA, Let’s Go Aero and Adventure Trailers. Each unit starts with a high-clearance trailer platform and class III/IV hitch system. When closed, the outfit resembles a simple box trailer, yet inside is your home away from home. Open them up and you are presented with a sturdy tent shelter that is up off the ground. Most include storage spaces for gear and supplies. Depending on the model, two or three hunters can be accommodated with these rigs.
Whether you choose a tent or step up to a tricked-out tent trailer, hunting camp in the backcountry doesn’t have to be that rough. The big luxury in any truck hunting camp is running hot water for cooking, cleanup and showers. The best hot water systems on the market are made by Zodi. There are several models to choose from depending on your needs and equipment space, but in a nutshell the Zodi line utilizes a small heater, bottled propane and battery-powered pump. The four-gallon case doubles as your water reservoir. Zodi also makes a forced-air tent heater that runs on bottled propane.
Small generators are also handy in camp. Both Honda and Yamaha make units that are extremely small and lightweight, yet capable of powering camp lights or making your morning coffee.
For expeditions where ice is hard to get, there are compact refrigerators. The best example is the Fridge Freezer distributed by ARB, which operates both on 120V or 12/24V so you can either plug it into your generator or run it off of your truck’s battery.