After a faithful dog and trusted firearm, the hunting vehicle may be the hunter’s most important accessory. The Ram’s box storage compartment in the pickup bed over the fenders holds fishing poles or firearms.
After a faithful dog and trusted firearm, the hunting vehicle may be the hunter’s most important accessory. And truck manufacturers are taking notice, developing special features that cater to the needs of outdoorsmen and women.
Those companies also are learning that those who hunt, fish and camp make up a significant percentage of their customers. The companies are adding features that make them useful in the field and around town.
“Next to a four-wheeler, a truck is the most important thing,” says Kevin Blumenberg of Hardin. “You gotta have four-wheel drive, and you need at least an extended cab to haul all of your goodies.”
Blumenberg was hunting pheasants Wednesday at the Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area near Chandlerville.
New car sales for October 2010 show pickup trucks holding down the top two individual spots, with the Ford F-Series in first place, followed by Chevrolet Silverado. Dodge Ram pickups came in at No. 10.
Walt Skube, sales associate with Landmark Ford in Springfield, says hunters and anglers make up about 20 percent of pickup buyers in urban areas and about 50 to 60 percent in rural areas.
The key is making trucks versatile enough to go from the duck club to the country club.
“They have crew cabs, leather interiors, more appointments, trailer hitching and increased towing capability,” he said. “They come fully loaded with all the appointments that a luxury vehicle would have.”
The Dodge Ram is being marketed heavily to the outdoors community on the heels of research that reveals most of its customers spend time outdoors. Wendy Orthman, Midwest public relations manager with Chrysler, says 62 percent of Ram customers hunt, fish or camp.
“Forty-seven percent hunt,” she said. “And 57 percent freshwater fish.”
One-third of Ram pickup owners are saltwater fishermen, 37 percent haul boats and 36 percent haul trailers.
To cater to the outdoors set, Ram added extra features and created a special edition called the Outdoorsman.
“We took the Ram truck and added features they thought an outdoorsman would need, like good lighting packages because duck hunters are starting out in the dark,” she says. “Pull the door handle and it shines a light down on your feet.”
The Ram’s box storage compartment in the pickup bed over the fenders holds fishing poles or firearms.
“My husband is a bird hunter and he likes to line it with ice and he stores his game; it serves as a cooler,” Orthman says.
“There are so many ways you can configure a truck with options. You can basically get one to serve whatever needs you have,” says Tony Macrito, account supervisor with General Motors.
Extra power can be a necessity for those with big camper trailers and boats.
“If you are looking to tow a fifth-wheel trailer or if you need the capacity, there are heavy duty trucks that have that capacity,” Macrito says.
Silverado models sport up to 400 horsepower and can tow from 10,700 to 21,700 pounds, depending upon which truck you pick.
As the trucks ramp up in power, they also load up with small features, too.
Chances are, with today’s full-size pickup trucks, you can charge your iPod and tow your boat, too.
“There are a lot of technology features that start in the smaller cars and lighter trucks that have made the way up to the heavy duty trucks,” Macrito says.
Skube says the new 2011 Ford Explorer has the ability to adjust to the terrain, whether it is snow, sand, mud or normal pavement conditions.
Ford’s pickups also feature a variety of packages and special editions, such as the King Ranch SuperCrew and Eddie Bauer.
Ford pickups have been the overall top selling vehicle for about five years now, Skube says. Ford also has boasted the top selling pickup for more than three decades.
“We have a lot of things geared towards the outdoorsman,” he says.
Blumenberg was hunting with a group that included Jeff Kassing of Versailles. During a tailgate lunch in the parking lot following a morning of hunting, Kassing ticked off his priorities for the most important options.
“Six wheels — a dually — four-wheel drive, four doors, a full bed and an understanding wife.”