The outdoorsman’s truck: Often overlooked and underappreciated, but an invaluable asset to the cause
My pickup sassed me while driving to cash in a holiday gift card at a nearby outdoors retail store recently. While “Old Smokey” seldom complains — even after all I’ve put her through this year — she couldn’t help but bare her teeth and ding me with an “idiot light” warning that an oil change was long past due.
“Who has time for a service appointment during hunting season?” I grumbled. But after additional contemplation, I logically decided to haul her into the shop for a much-needed once-over, even if it meant sacrificing an evening in the late-season deer woods after work.
Truth be told, spending an entire day “truck-less” made me reflect and appreciate just how handy my four-wheel drive has been this past year. She made five trips north to our hunting camp in Lycoming County for work parties, family getaways, and archery deer and bear seasons.
Old Smokey hauled beach gear to Sea Isle City, N.J., fishing gear to Chautauqua, N.Y., outdoor photography gear to Western Pennsylvania’s Oil Region, and camping gear to Benezette’s elk country. She even geared up for a trip to Connecticut to purchase a used ATV, which fit perfectly into her spacious bed.
The truck towed my pop-up camper across the state, carried kayaks for river floats, transported decoys for duck hunts, and housed both a game cart and climbing treestand for the better part of three months with nary a snide remark.
Time and time again, Old Smokey saved my tail from arduous labor and discomfort. She transported cut firewood to my woodshed, warmed me after long sits in the wind and cold, and kept me dry during “rain delays” in spring turkey, summer trout, fall archery and winter muzzleloader outings.
She endured mud, hair, and wet mutt smells after upland hunts with my bird dog, absorbed early morning coffee spills with grace, and collected heavy accumulations of on-the-go breakfast crumbs with zero sighs of discontent.
The truck carried home a buck and doe this season, hoisted them both to the rafters for skinning and quartering, and held fresh fish fillets on ice to help fill the freezer, not to mention all the side trips spent running around every week.
A smattering of dried goose blood adorns her tailgate, residue from a dozen dirt roads color her flanks, and newly formed scratches add character to her finish, telling the honest tales of a year well lived in the outdoors.
In many ways, I’m indebted to my truck, and Old Smokey certainly earned that oil change. Come to think of it, she deserves better treatment than the wear, tear and neglect I’ve been offering the past 52 weeks. She’s more a friend than a vehicle, and I can do better.
Perhaps some mild, sunny day later this winter, I’ll vacuum her interior, scrub her sidewalls, and shine her up nicely for a dazzling night out on the town. But the season isn’t over just yet, and she’s still an outdoorsman’s truck — often overlooked and underappreciated, but an invaluable asset to the cause.