Highland Bird Hunting Truck Single Platform
A few simple modifications can convert your stock truck into the ultimate highland bird hunting adventure ship. (Photo by Kali Parmley)
At the start of my hunting career, my Toyota 4Runner was more than enough for my hunting adventures across the country. With minor modifications, I was able to transform my original SUV into a perfectly capable hunting rig that was the perfect size for me, my lab, and my gear. We would embark on several hunting trips each fall with our camping done in a small A-Liner trailer that we towed behind.
However, when I moved permanently to the West and added a hunting dog to my bag, I realized that my SUV just didn’t have enough room for two dogs and their gear. . I needed a truck. A stock truck would probably get me out of this, but on backcountry bird-chasing adventures, who wants “just ok” capabilities? Simple modifications would turn my original Toyota Tundra into a capable mountain truck.
Off road wheels
I started with the basics: the original wheels and tires needed to be replaced. I had used Toyo tires on my 4Runner and they had lasted me thousands of miles. Toyo was therefore the obvious choice for the Tundra. The new Toyo Open Country R / T gave me a sturdy tire with aggressive sidewalls for off-road riding coupled with a smooth ride on the road. I paired the tires with the KMC KM544 Mesa Wheels which are made with a one piece molded construction making them extremely light and strong, just the extra durability I needed for the backcountry.
Pickup Truck Accessories
My 4Runner’s light bar helped me find camping spots on public lands late at night, as well as light up backcountry roads for safety against big game grazers. The Tundra front bumper comes with a perfect opening for a 30 inch Rough Country LED light bar. For less than $ 300, the light kit mounts easily, lights the road, and a simple on / off switch is on my direction panel. My original Tundra didn’t come with steps, and after adding the Toyo wheels and a spacer to the front suspension, my truck was now three inches taller. The Rough Country cabin length AL2 Drop Steps solved this problem and provided a place to remove mud from my boots after a long wet day in the field.
A GPS system built into the tundra was not an option unless I upgraded the models. When you go backpacking for a few days at a time in an area without cell phone service, you don’t always remember all the roads you have driven. This is where the Garmin Montana 700 saved the day. This GPS unit provides your typical turn-by-turn road navigation, as well as topographic maps, public land boundaries, weather, and even dog tracking when paired with Astro or Alpha series collars. It also has InReach technology for two-way messaging and off-network SOS capabilities to stay in touch with loved ones.
As an added safety net when traveling off-grid, I mounted a high efficiency ARB on-board air compressor in the engine bay. For just $ 300, the compressor gives me instant air in the event of a puncture and also allows me to pressurize things like my Yakima RoadShower for a quick shower in the backcountry.
Bed protection and storage
A truck bed cover just wasn’t ideal for my needs on my truck for many reasons, but I wanted something to protect the gear I put away in my bed from rain and prying eyes. I opted for DiamondBack HD coverage. The cover provides bomb proof protection for my precious cargo while giving me more carrying space. I can add up to 1,600 pounds of gear on top of the blanket, which means I can easily tie up dog kennels, my rooftop tent for early season hunting, and more. The HD opens in two places for easy access to gear, and two deadbolt locking systems protect my kit when I’m away from my truck. An eight-inch-deep storage bin sits underneath the Diamondback, making it a great place to store essential equipment such as tools, air compressor hose, jumper cables, dog leashes, first aid kits, etc.
For the gear I need to get quickly, I added Molle Victory 4×4 bed panels to the driver and passenger sides of my truck bed. These panels added additional storage space for gear such as dog collars, control cords, gun cleaning kit, hunting knives, ax, and more.
My rig is now designed for storage, security, and off-road capability. Paired with my lightweight camping trailer, I turned my stock truck into a perfectly capable mountain platform, ready for adventure anytime.