Humor writer Jim Mize reflects on the love a hunter has for his hunting truck long after it's passed its prime.
Hunters become attached to their trucks, like old hunting coats or trusty hounds. As a result, they keep them around, adding a new part here, a dab of paint there. Then one day, they wake up and look into the driveway wondering if the garbage man unloaded instead of picked up, only to realize it’s their truck.
To explain what I’m talking about, let me tell you a little about my hunting truck: I have had hitchhikers decline the offer of a ride for safety reasons. When cops pull me over, they know from one look that I couldn’t have been speeding. Sometimes they hand me back something that fell off my truck and write me a warning ticket for littering.
So what’s my truck look like?
This is a truck that defies description. Some days, it defies running.
My truck looks like something you’d see at a monster truck rally . . . out in the middle getting run over by a bigger one.
My truck has a lot of interesting characteristics though. For starters, the clutch chatters in first gear. I’m not talking about a little. My clutch chatters so much you would think it’s carrying on a conversation.
The color is green, but I’m not sure if it’s paint or mildew. Over the years, I’ve strategically placed bumper stickers, decals, and bungee cords. It’s hard to tell whether I’m making a statement or using them as band-aids.
My headlights are cross-eyed. One shines so far to the right it lights up the woods and fields. That’s ok by me, however, since I see a lot of game that way.
The truck has a muffler, though you’d probably wonder what’s being muffled. Maybe it’s time to replace the coat hanger.
Inside, the truck is only slightly better. The driver’s side of the bench seat sports a permanent depression. It’s paid for itself over the years, however, because all my loose change slides to the middle.
The heating system is interesting, too. It shoots hot air in the summer and cold air in the winter, so it’s about like leaving the windows open. The defroster does blow year round . . . but only humid air. I think it’s become a froster.
You might wonder how my truck got into this shape. That’s easy. Once the truck got old, whenever something broke, I’d argue with myself over whether to fix it.
“Do I really need to spend money on this?” I’d ask myself.
“Heater . . . no.”
“Tires . . . yes.”
“Brakes . . . now there’s a tough one.”
But I do opportunistically repair some things. Mostly it’s when I find a similar vehicle abandoned in the woods and spot something on it that looks like it might fit.
Besides keeping it running, a truck like this comes with a few challenges. Take insurance. How do you decide on an insurance policy when the deductible exceeds the value of the truck? You could total it and never get a dime.
I used to get a lot of junk mail from insurance companies. One company called and asked if I wanted to buy a piece of the rock. I told them from the looks of my fenders, I’d already bought it more than once.
Eventually, I did respond to one advertisement that promised great savings. When I mailed my application with a picture asking for a quote, the junk mail screeched to a halt. Apparently, the word spread like crabgrass. It was like the AFLAC duck took one look and flew south.
At this point, you are likely wondering why I keep such a vehicle. The truth is, I like it. There’s something liberating about a truck this beat up. For instance, when I go over speed bumps, I go for height and distance. Try that in a family car.
Besides, after driving my truck all these years, I’d be uncomfortable in a new one. Every scratch and dent for a while would feel like giving blood.
I’m not even sure I could legally sell my truck now. With all the junkyard parts I’ve added over the years, I’m not sure the title is still valid. What model is it now? I’m not even sure you can tell what I started with.
Perhaps what it boils down to is that a truck like this becomes a reflection of its owner. You can tell a lot about me from my truck, but mostly you’ll realize I’m an optimist. I mean, who else would buy a set of tires rated for 80,000 miles to go on a truck that couldn’t make it that far if it was towed?