Down and Dirty
by PJ Delhomme
Stuck in a rut this season? Let us help.
It happens to the best of us. You think you can make it. Before you know it, you’ve buried your axles and your hunting buddy is laughing hysterically. Whether you’re driving in mud, snow or some nasty combination of the two, you’re bound eventually to find yourself stuck somewhere in elk country. But before you call the wrecker (a costly and shameful affair) perhaps a few tips and some “under the seat” gear can help you out of a jam. And remember, the best piece of gear you can have is your brain. All the gear in the world is useless unless you know how to use it properly.
The first technique you can try is rocking from front to back in four-wheel drive. This works if you’re not too deep, but it can also dig you even deeper. If you start to sink further, stop. It’s time to find some traction.
New on the market are TracGrabbers ($60/pair) that can be installed directly on the tires for both trucks and passenger cars. They’re the size of large chalkboard erasers, and they slip around your wheels. In many cases, it’s just the right amount of grip needed to get you out. Also consider reducing the air pressure in your tires to 18-20 psi, but be sure you have a way of re-inflating them.
Look around the woods for solid, dry objects to jam under the tires. Rocks, limbs, even floor mats are options. You may need to dig out some mud or snow to get these under the tires. A space and time-saving product to throw in the back of your rig is the Handle‑All ($125) multi‑purpose tool. If you’re buried to your elbows, you may need to jack up the truck altogether. And that’s where a Hi‑Lift Jack ($80) comes in handy.
A Hi-Lift, or if worse comes to worse your truck’s factory jack, can be used to get one sunken wheel just a few inches off the ground at a time. Once in the air, you can get boards, rocks or whatever under your wheels for traction. Keeping some 2x6 blocks under the seat will help give your jack a solid footing.
Of course, if you have a winch attached to your bumper, or a come along, then it may be easier just to find a solid tree in the direction you want to go and hook up. Using chains or recovery straps instead of cables for the come along might be a safer option as cables tend to get old, break and turn into backcountry guillotines.
If you’re lucky enough to have a buddy whose truck didn’t get stuck, then he should be able to help. Old‑school chains and recovery straps are great, but Bubba Rope ($150) is a snatch rope that uses kinetic energy to whip you onto solid ground.
When you’re elk hunting, the last thing you want to spend time doing is digging out your rig. So be smart, don’t get stuck in the first place. But if you do, be prepared to get yourself out and back in the hunt.