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Simple Upland Bird Hunting Truck Rig

These pickup truck accessories can turn your vehicle into a dedicated upland hunting unit.

Simple Upland Bird Hunting Truck Rig

A few simple modifications can convert your stock truck into the ultimate upland bird hunting adventure vessel. (Kali Parmley photo)

Early in my hunting career, my Toyota 4Runner was more than enough vehicle for my cross-country hunting adventures. With minor modifications, I was able to turn my stock SUV into a perfectly capable hunting rig that was an ideal size for me and my Lab and gear. We’d embark on multiple hunting excursions each fall with our camping done in a small A-Liner trailer we pulled behind.

However, when I moved permanently to the West and added a gun dog to my pack, I realized that my SUV just wasn’t enough room for two dogs and gear. I needed a truck. A stock truck would probably get me through ok—but when on backcountry adventures in pursuit of birds, who wants “just ok” capabilities? Simple modifications would turn my stock Toyota Tundra into a capable upland truck.

Off-Road Wheels  

I started with the basics: The stock wheels and tires had to be replaced. I had run Toyo Tires on my 4Runner and they had lasted me thousands of miles—so Toyo was the obvious choice for the Tundra. The new Toyo Open Country A/T III offered me a rugged tire with aggressive sidewalls for off-road driving coupled with a smooth ride while on the road. I paired the tires with KMC KM544 Mesa wheels which are made with a one-piece cast construction making them extremely lightweight and strong—just the extra durability I needed for the backcountry.

Toyo Tires Open Country R/T with KMC KM544 Mesa wheels
Easily tread through the rough terrain of the uplands with a set of rugged truck tires and sturdy wheels. (Kali Parmley photo)

Pickup Truck Accessories  

The lightbar on my 4Runner had assisted to find camping spots on public land late at night, as well as helped light up backcountry roads for safety against big game road grazers. The Tundra front bumper comes with an opening perfect for a Rough Country 30-inch LED light bar. For less than $300, the lighting kit mounts easily, lights up the road, and a simple on/off switch sits on my steering panel. My stock Tundra didn’t come with steps, and after adding the Toyo wheels and a spacer to the front suspension, my truck now sat three inches taller. Rough Country Cab Length AL2 Drop Steps fixed that problem and provided a spot to rub mud off my boots after a long, wet day afield.

A built-in GPS system in the Tundra wasn’t an option unless I upgraded models. When you are off backpack hunting for a few days at a time in a no cell phone service area, you don’t always remember all the roads you drove in on. That’s where the Garmin Montana 700 saved the day. This GPS unit provides your typical step-by-step road navigation, as well as topographical maps, public land boundaries, weather, and even dog tracking when paired with the Astro or Alpha series collars. It also features InReach technology for two-way messaging and SOS capabilities when off-the-grid to stay in touch with loved ones.

truck bed bin storage
Conveniently store essential gear and other accessories with a bin storage add-on in your truck bed. (Kali Parmley photo)

As an additional safety net when traveling off-the-grid, I mounted an ARB High Output On-Board Air Compressor in the engine compartment. For just $300, the compressor gives me instant air in case of a flat tire and also allows me to pressurize things such as my Yakima RoadShower for a quick shower in the backcountry.

Bed Protection and Storage

A truck bed cap just wasn’t ideal for my needs on my truck for many reasons, but I did want something to protect gear that I store in my bed from rain and prying eyes. I opted for the DiamondBack HD cover. The cover provides bombproof protection for my precious cargo all while giving me more hauling space. I can add up to 1,600 pounds of gear on top of the cover—which means I can easily strap dog kennels, my rooftop tent for early season hunting, and more. The HD opens in two spots making it easy to access gear, and two deadbolt-style locking systems keep my kit protected when I’m away from my truck. An eight-inch deep storage bin sits under the Diamondback which makes for a great spot to store essential gear such as tools,  air compressor hose, jumper cables, dog leashes, first aid kits, and more.

Truck bed with Victory MOLLE panel and gear
There are limitless customization possibilities when putting your personal touches to your own upland truck rig. (Kali Parmley photo)

For gear that I need to get to quickly, I added Victory 4x4 Molle Bed Paneling to both the driver and passenger sides of my truck bed. These panels added extra storage space for gear such as dog collars, check cords, a gun cleaning kit, hunting knives, hatchet, and more.

My rig is now built for storage, safety, and off-road capabilities. Paired with my lightweight camping trailer, I’ve turned my stock truck into a perfectly capable upland rig ready for adventure at a moment’s notice.

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