On the way out to one of our favorite WMA’s for an after work, weekday hunt we needed to take a detour that proved lucky for one hunter. These weekday evening hunts are always a little stressful, given the short time we will be in our stands we try and make every minute count. In from work, changing into hunting clothes in minutes, loaded up exactly on time, an efficient drive without any stops, and so the list goes on.
Within about 5 miles of our turn off on a little traveled narrow two lane rural road we noticed a young man walking along the edge of the road, no truck in sight and wearing full camo.
After coming to a stop we learned that the unfortunate hunter had just been hiking for some time from where his truck became stuck far back in the refuge. With our new comrade holding on to the rear hitch mounted carrier (no room in the 4Runner) and the back window rolled down we navigated through the woods to his truck. After a little digging (yes, I carry a shovel, actually two) the tow strap connected the not so trusty lately (see archives for that saga) 20 year old 4Runner in 4x4 low, pulled the pick up truck out of a deep sugar sand trap where it's rear end had been buried up to its frame.
With that mission accomplished we went our separate ways. Fast forward about a half hour and Douglas and I have hiked into our hunting grounds and I have continued into the hammock I've been hunting. The area I've been setting up in is not on any marked trail and I have not seen anyone else in the area.....until this evening. While quietly climbing up I hear foot steps, looking over my shoulder I see my new friend Travis! He had hiked in from a different direction. After we both apologized for hunting the same area. I said that no apology was needed and let him know that I thought I heard a hog feeding not far from our location and suggested where he might be. To keep the story brief, a couple hours later I hear a hog squealing and a text message comes in fromTravis who confirms that yes indeed he has arrowed a nice boar!
The summer and fall have been trying times for the 4Runner and my patience….and my budget. After preparing for and packing for one of my Redfish fishing trips the 4Runner would not start. convinced it was related to the aftermarket car alarm, which had been exhibiting some weird behavior, I did what any self respecting man would do, surf the web for forums and you tube videos that would help me diagnose and repair the problem. After wasting hours, I decided to reach out to a professional.
A couple days later, Douglas and I towed the vehicle to a neighborhood car audio shop and I had it removed and a new JVC radio installed that had a USB input / charger port that allows me to interface with my iPhone. The only problem was that after the removal of the car alarm, the 4Runner still would not start.
My next move after a very brief bout of, hey I’ll figure this out myself, was enlisting the help my daughter and I towed the 4Runner to my mechanics shop. After providing my daughter a short but instructive lesson in how to tow a vehicle that will not run, we made it to the shop with out a hitch. The shop is a small high quality operation in Gainesville FL called Performance Transmission and Auto Repair. Dustin easily found the problems suggested the course of action and expertly completed the work. It needed a started, relay and fuse. When it was ready, I rode my bike over and picked it up…back on the road again!
So what are my impressions of the 4Runner now that I have some miles and repair bills behind me? It's not been dependable...yet...and in fairness the repairs so far have been more or less to be expected for a 20 year old vehicle with over 100k miles. The 4Runner is a very capable, SUV with lots of room for its size, decent off road performance. The negatives so far (besides the repairs needed), the V6 engine is seems under-powered although in the lower gears and in 4WD the performance is decent. Fuel economy is average to poor. If I could wave a magic want the 4runner would have the turbo charged 4 cylinder diesel engine that is in my Audi.
If anyone from the Toyota corporation is reading this, the Hoginator and I would be more than willing to perform a long term field test on a new 4Runner, fully loaded, 4x4, and leather interior would be appreciated.
Well its been a roller coaster of a season so far. We both have observed some great action and released a few arrows but only have one small buck to show for it. Douglas made nice pass through shot on a buck in Levy County. That buck only traveled approximately 30 yards after it was shot. The Magnus Broadhead Douglas is shooting is a well-made cut on contact Broadhead. On the Gulf Coast and in North Central Florida the rut activity has really heated up in the last couple weeks. It's mid October now and acorns are just beginning to drop and were experiencing an occasional week cold front.
In the swamps and hammocks the mosquitoes have been thick. Even our trusty Thermocells have been overwhelmed at dawn and dusk when the mosquitoes have been the worst.
Background: Some years ago I purchased a Magellen Explorist 300 GPS unit for hunting, hiking, kayaking and other back country activities. It was a reasonably priced smaller handheld unit that has a basic screen (no color and no touch screen), could not download maps nor did it have a companion computer program for mapping, planning, etc. Additionally, now that I have to wear gosh darn reading glasses the small, low contrast screen had become frustration. Finally, I have a habit of going fair distances off trail and in the swamps where distinguishing features can be hard to see. One morning, many years ago while turkey hunting near the Suwannee river and Gulf of Mexico I was working towards a gobbler I heard deep in the swamp. As I went deeper and deeper into the swamp a heavy fog rolled in and it wasn’t long before I was unsure where I was. The day was overcast to start with then with the heavy fog I couldn’t see the sun, there were no roads nearby to listen for cars or trucks, nothing to provide any bearings and I was in a very generic looking swamp in an area I had never hunted before. I had decided last minute to go turkey hunting that morning and was light on supplies and didn’t tell anyone where I was heading…..all the ingredients for getting lost or worse. I hadn’t brought my trusty handheld Silva compass, no first aid supplies, no food, nothing to start a fire with, no whistle, I’m not sure I had even brought my water bottle. I decided that my best bet was to head in a Easterly direction the only way I thought to choose the direction was to look at the lichen growing on many of the trees in the swamp and interpolate what an Easterly direction was. Because Lichen often (but not always) grows more on the Northern exposure of many trees it seemed like a good bet. I did make it out eventually to a road a mile or two further South than I had hoped but hey, I eventually made it back to my truck, with lessons learned. I’ve never claimed to learn easily or fast and most of my better habits have been learned through experience, sometimes dangerous experiences. The lost turkey hunt experience has led to always having a compass in my gear kit and often a GPS unit.
It’s worth a brief mention of why I never, ever want to use my smart phone as a navigation tool in the woods or on the water. First, I've been hunting since long before the invention of the mobile phone…. yes, that may seem unbelievable to all the whippersnappers out there! These days I use my iPhone in my car and truck all the time when driving, even off road driving however, it has too many limitations in the backcountry. A few of my gripes are, fragile build, not water resistant, comparatively short battery life. And, yes I know you can get water resistant cases, carry back up power, and there is lots of good software out there. It’s just not my choice; I want to keep my phone packed safely in my kit and take it out as little as possible.
Being a thrifty guy I set up a budget of approx. $300 and started reading up on handheld units that units with a color touch screen and mapping capabilities. It didn’t take too long to determine two things, one, my budget wasn’t large enough and two, that the Garmin Oregon 600 was the front-runner. To deal with the budget problem I looked for a refurbished one. I always buy refurbished computers, and just about everything else I can. I found GPS Nation had a factory refurbished Garmin Oregon 600, in a factory box with all the docs, etc. that fit my budget and they double the factory warranty from one to two years and threw in free shipping. I also ordered the rechargeable batteries. Happy with that I ordered it online and just a couple days later it showed up.
The unit was easy to install the standard AA or rechargeable batteries. When the unit is connected to a computer with the supplied USB cord it is also charging the rechargeable batteries. The quick start guide was easy to follow and connecting it to the computer and getting a basic feel for Garmin’s free mapping software called Basecamp was decent. Getting a basic feel for the home screen went well and the visibility of the screen is great, even in the Florida sun. I did a walk about the neighborhood and found it sooooo easy to record a waypoint and add a description and choose an icon thanks to the touch screen. There is no going back to any unit without one.
The unit seemed to acquire satellites quickly and it appears to be very accurate. I liked the compass and line of sight feature also. A couple other attractive features are the customizable “dashboard” where you can choose what information you want displayed in various windows, the moon phase feature and the ability to download topo and other maps.
Going to take it hiking and start hunting with it in the near future and will provide a field report at a later date.
I’ve given the Magellen unit to Hoginator and we may do a follow up post on what he thinks of it. Finally, another reason I wanted to upgrade my GPS is to upload waypoints to my computer for trip planning and digital scouting.