As a DIY public land hunter, I have learned that your ultimate hunting rig is a crucial piece to hunting comfort and success. The money I do have I spend on tags and gas, not hotels and lodges. My gas bills alone during the fall will make most house wives cringe. So when it comes to my vehicle of transportation, I need it to be a home, a kitchen, lockable gear storage, and a means to access the sacred elk hunting grounds. Below are the steps I’ve done to build my ultimate hunting rig:
Step 1 is to own a reliable 4wd truck. A used truck is preferred, because if you are like me, the paint is going to get scratched, mud on the interior, a rock beaten under carriage, and occasional elk blood in the truck bed. If you’re scared to get your truck dirty, it probably won’t fit the bill for the ultimate hunting rig. Another note is get a truck with a bed that is at least 6′ long. If you plan on sleeping in the back of your vehicle, you need the added leg space.
Step 2 is to purchase a truck cap. I have owned LEER and now A.R.E. and honestly the A.R.E. latches, handles and overall construction make it the top dog. Add the Rival LED Light Option and you are set for one badass hunter hotel (also makes for great lighting for images). Check out Big Sky Toppers for A.R.E. cap options in Bozeman. They are good dudes and will make sure to treat you well.
The biggest perk of having a truck cap is it transforms your boring truck bed into a dry location for you to sleep, store gear, cook food, and lock important items in your truck. Planning to shed hunt this spring? BOOM! You now have a safe place to stash your obese pile of brown gold in one locked location. Too tired to setup a tent for the night? KAPOW! Just blow up your backpacking air mattress and you have a cozy, warm shelter. Driving in a complete downpour with three of your favorite hunting buddies? No worries! All your gear will be dry in the back of the truck. The numerous benefits of a topper are so WORTH the money. The truck cap I went with for my truck is the A.R.E MX Series cap. The reason being, I sleep in my truck constantly throughout the year and I wanted maximum headroom. The MX Series has a slightly elevated roof for extra room. The DECKED drawer storage unit takes up about 12inches in the bottom of my truck bed, so any extra head space makes the sleeping quarters more comfortable.
Step 3 is to add a storage unit to your truck bed for organization. I prefer DECKED truck bed storage. Solid construction, easy installation, weather proof, and problem free. All around quality unit, that I have had zero problems with. The added drawers allow me a secondary lockable storage area and also allows me to organize gear in the back of my truck.
Step 4 is to buy a hitch carrier. This allows you to store a cooler and/or gas on the back of your truck. You don’t have to fowl your bedroom with gas fumes and the cooler is easy to access for food and drinks while on the road. Extra gas is a necessity! Many of the locations we hunt are +1 hours from the nearest gas station and I don’t want to make any unwanted detours during my hunts. My time is valuable and I want to spend my time hunting elk, not hunting down gas.
Other items I added to my rig is a Yakima rack system and a Load Warrior rack. This gives me extra space for storage and allows me to put elk racks on my roof if they don’t fit in the back of my truck (typically a good problem to have).
A few additional items that I would like to add to my rig down the road is a beefy front bumper and winch. Throw in a good set of tire chains and you can go just about anywhere. To see the full walk through on how I have setup my truck for on-the-go hunting, check out the video below and also please SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel for notifications of our latest videos.