Sunday, November 18, 2012


Tips for Safe and Successful Hunting from a Four-Wheel Blind
            Let’s begin by clarifying that I’m neither advocating “road hunting” nor encouraging my readers to engage in illegal activity. Hunting/shooting from inside a car or truck, or from the saddle of an ATV, is widely prohibited; however, some states allow disabled individuals to hunt from a vehicle. I’d much rather sit in a blind and feel the earth under my boots, but sometimes the convenience or mobility of hunting from a vehicle makes it worthwhile. Although it’s no guarantee that you’ll kill game, this practice has helped me punch tags in Wyoming and Montana.

Here’s some advice based on my experience:
            The fact that you’re handicapped doesn’t automatically grant you any privileges. To legally shoot from a vehicle, you must go through proper channels and obtain official authorization from the regulatory agency of the state in which you’ll be hunting. The nomenclature varies from state to state; in Wyoming I had a Disabled Hunter Permit, and in Montana I had a Permit to Hunt From a Vehicle.
            I went through similar processes to get my permits for Wyoming (in 2009) and Montana (in 2011). I had to fill out a form (available online for download) that required a description of my disability and a signed statement from my doctor. In both cases, I received my permit from the Game and Fish Dept. just two weeks after mailing the completed form. There was no charge for the permit.
Check state laws before heading out to hunt from a vehicle. In addition to a permit, you must have a valid license as well as any required tags for the region you’re hunting and the species you’re pursuing.
I came across an interesting detail while researching this topic: The Pennsylvania Game Commission considers an electric-powered wheelchair a “motorized vehicle,” so if you use one to get around in the woods, you’ll need a Disabled Hunter Permit to hunt in the Keystone State.
My Montana license and permit.

A Disabled Hunter Permit does not authorize you to drive and hunt anywhere you damn well please. You must respect private property and obey rules governing the use of motor vehicles on public lands.
Each state has its own specific regulations and details, but generally speaking, a permit holder: may not hunt from a state or federal highway; may not shoot across a public roadway; may only shoot from a stationary vehicle with the motor turned off. All these rules make safety sense, and the last one also helps the shooter because vibration from an idling engine can make it difficult to aim.

Never trust a gun’s safety, and never cruise around with a loaded firearm in the vehicle. Keep the chamber empty and the action open until you’re ready to shoot.
Ron makes sure the .270 is empty before we head out for mule deer.

Make sure the vehicle has enough interior space for you to aim and shoot safely and comfortably. My needs are rather roomy because a point man (usually Ron) aims for me while we both view the sight picture on the scopecam, and I decide when to activate the trigger.
In this photo we’re sitting in the back seat of a Suburban, hoping to ambush a Montana muley.

Whether you hunt from a treestand, ground blind or vehicle, a steady rifle rest contributes to accurate shot placement. Adjustable shooting sticks can be set up inside a vehicle to provide support at the proper height. It is NOT a good idea to rest a gun on the top edge of a partially open window.
If you plan to simply lower the window and rest the rifle on the door, use a sandbag, small cushion or rolled-up jacket to protect the window frame as well as the gun’s forestock.
We used this sandbag while hunting pronghorns in Wyoming.

In the ideal scenario, you will have scouted the area, arrived early and parked broadside for a good view of the spot where you expect animals to emerge.
It’s a different story if you have to spot and “stalk” game in open country, as my friend Ron and I did while hunting pronghorns in Wyoming. We sat in the back seat of our guide’s Mega Cab pickup and set up to shoot out the driver’s-side window. We chose this arrangement because it made things easier as the guide carefully approached the herd and turned the truck broadside for our shot. He knew that if he had a good, unobstructed view of an antelope, we did too.
Drawing down on an antelope.

The first commandment of gun safety says keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction. When hunting from a vehicle, that rule goes out the window—quite literally, because it’s usually the best place to put the business end of your rifle.
Always travel with the gun (action open, chamber empty) securely stowed. When you’ve reached the hunting spot and turned off the motor, it’s time to load. Before loading or working the action, put the muzzle out the window. I mean OUT, not just pointed toward the window. And the muzzle should stay out the window until you unload, and especially while unloading.
Make sure the muzzle is as far out the window as is reasonably possible when you shoot, because you don’t want the muzzle blast to occur within the confines of the vehicle.

Everyone in the vehicle should know what the shooter is doing and when he’s ready to squeeze the trigger. Since Ron and I shoot from the back seat, the muzzle isn’t very far from the driver. We always warn him to cover his ears before we shoot.
We put the 4WD stalk on this pronghorn and dropped it with a 120-yard shot.

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