My last mountain bike used for hunting was decommissioned at least ten years ago after many faithful turkey hunting trips. That first bike was a very basic one without any suspension that I used exclusively for turkey hunting and scouting.
In recent years it was becoming clear that I wanted to reach further into the refuges where I hunt with greater speed and ease both during hunting trips and scouting.
Although I wanted to purchase and customize a bike for about $300.00 total cost, I quickly realized that would be difficult if I wanted a decent quality bike with front suspension.
· Front suspension
· Decent quality frame and components
· 29” wheels
Knowing that a new bike was out of the question I began to scour the local online ads and stopped by a few local pawn shops. Within a couple weeks a promising bike was found very close to home. The owner of local pawn shop who is expert mountain bike rider had a Giant Talon 29 in decent shape for sale. When negotiations were concluded I rode it home for $275.00.
Back at home any decals were removed and painted surfaces cleaned and roughed with a scotch brite pad to prep them for camo paint. I applied a basic three color flat camo paint job with flat spray paint from Lowe’s and some camo duct tape applied to the forks and seat post. I installed a RAM mount on the handle bar post to hold my GPS or iPhone, installed a rear cargo rack, mounted a survival knife to one of the frame members and zip tied an old canvas bucket to the front bars. Phase 1 complete.
On a cool February day I loaded the bike in my now trusty 4Runner and went for a few hours of trail riding in one of my favorite refuges. I put a few pounds of gear in the front bag and put a pack on my back with about 15 pounds in it and threw my shotgun over my shoulder of my 185 lb frame. All in all I suppose the bike was carrying about 210 lbs. With the tires at approx. 35 lbs of air I found the bike moved easily over the trails that were grassy and relatively firm. The 29” wheels are a real plus when coming up on roots, rocks and branches of a reasonable size. In most cases, I simply slowed and rolled over them, in other cases leaning back and giving the front tires a little lift assist did the trick. In the mud and sand the bike did well, the aggressive tires wanted to power through unless the mud was too deep or sand too fine. Cornering was ok except of course in the mud. As far as shifting goes, it was effortless although keep in mind that this is Florida and there was no real elevation change to deal with only changing trail conditions and a little experimenting with various speeds. The best part of the ride was the ability to scout so much more territory relatively fast compared with being on foot. Additionally, I had forgotten that riding is often generates less noise than walking allowing me to slip up on all manner of fauna.
Next effort will be to think about how I want to set up the bike for spring turkey season and fall deer and hog.