Hunting adventure is what you make of it. Sure, everybody dreams of far off wilderness adventure in places like Alaska or northern Canada, and that is in the cards sometimes, but most of us don’t get to do that kind of thing regularly. Money and time are usually the limiting factors. One way to bide time between big adventures is to hunt around your home. That can be an adventure in its own right, and some of the best hunting anywhere. I, however, like to roam, and hunting the same piece of property for years is something that just gets old for me. One of my favorite ways to create a hunting adventure is simply to drive someplace new and hunt. My destination is usually a chunk of public ground somewhere that I have never set foot on. I don’t have much cash for this kind of thing, so I’ve learned how to travel around the U.S. and hunt on a very limited budget. This is true hunting adventure without the big price tag that is available to everyone.
One of the most important tools for this kind of hunting is my minivan. In my early twenties I started driving around the country hunting from a small car and a tent. That worked fairly well, but the tent got to be a hassle, particularly in farm country, unless I was staying in woods for several days. Eventually, I bought a minivan specifically for taking hunting trips. I think minivans are in fact the perfect hunting vehicles for adventure hunting on a shoestring budget. The biggest costs of hunts are usually lodging and the guide. Leave both of those out, hunt DIY, and the price of a hunt is reduced to tag, gasoline, and food. The key benefits of hunting from a minivan are that it provides you with a place to sleep, eat, and relax. And it has heat. Minivans are also relatively good on gas mileage compared to the big trucks that a lot of guys drive. The smaller vehicle will save you money. They are spacious enough for you and all of your gear. And, they are big enough that a deer or quartered elk will fit in the back with no problem. Minivans are also everywhere, which makes them inconspicuous. The inconspicuous part comes in handy when you just stop somewhere to sleep along the way. A minivan in a parking lot or in a public hunting area pullout just doesn’t attract a lot of attention. A minivan will also get you to most places you want to hunt. A four-wheel drive truck is nice, but really how often do you need it to get into hunting areas? If you can get close, your feet will take you the rest of the way.
The specifics of basing hunts out of a minivan are simple. Remove the rear seats and you will have more than enough room to stow your gear and to sleep. One side of the van is for gear, and the other for sleeping. You should also have room to prepare food as well. If all your gear doesn’t fit and allow you plenty of room, you need to re-pack. I carry gallon jugs of water stowed neatly between plastic tubs of hunting gear. Most washing and cooking can be done outside. Use your imagination and you will figure out how to make it work. It is important to realize, though, that hunting from a minivan is for solo hunting only. If you need a group of people around, it might not be for you. Hunting with other people just slows me down anyway.
The best part of hunting like this is mobility, particularly for deer hunting. I often shoot out to public hunting areas in other states. I spend a few days scouting, and if the area isn’t as good as I had hoped I simply drive to the next public hunting area until I find what I’m looking for. I might even pick up and head for another state.
My 2012 minivan hunting adventure is about to kick off, and from along the way I might post a note or two about how things are going. Hunting adventure is there for the taking, on the fly and inexpensive. Go get it.