Jan 16, 2020


Surviving a night in your truck is something that hunters face each time they venture into the backcountry during winter. The old saying goes in the western states that “if you don’t like the weather wait ten minutes.” Mother Nature doesn’t take care to make you comfortable.

The rough roads that lead to the deeper parts of the mountains are hardly maintained by the state or county. Bottoming out, sliding off the path or just spinning your wheels, stuck is stuck. But it’s not the end of the world. Take necessary precautions before leaving the house and always, we mean always, stay with your vehicle if it looks like you’ll be spending a night in a secluded wilderness area.

Point Your Vehicle Into the Wind

We list this one first because it’s the most important and easiest to forget. Carbon monoxide is the silent killer. For starters, don’t run your vehicle all night. Ten to 20 minutes an hour, in intervals, is fine. If you can, point your truck into the wind so that when you do start the engine and run the heater, the exhaust is being carried away from you rather than seeping into the cab. More people die in survival situations from the inhalation of carbon monoxide than they do from freezing, starving or dehydration.

Stay With Your Vehicle

Stay with your vehicle unless you know for certain where to find safety. Trucks are easier to spot by rescue planes than a person. In a world of snow and ice, you’re far better off in the parking area than risking injury or death by making a desperate hike.

Share Your Itinerary

Tell your spouse, parents, friends, family members, whoever, where you’re going and when you expect to return. Even today, cell phones don’t get service in some of the more remote reaches. That’s one of the things that makes us smile as we power down our devices before venturing out, but it’s also been the cause for grimace when help is needed. Those who know of your whereabouts should have a plan in place if you don’t return or check in within an hour of your expected arrival. Make it easy for them by writing down the numbers of the sheriff’s department and any other emergency services in the area.

Keep Provisions in the Cab

Plan for the worst, hope for the best. Keep a gallon of water, some food and a zero-degree rated sleeping bag (or warmer) in the cab of your truck. As you should only run the engine and heater intermittently, the sleeping bag will help you stay warm and conserve energy throughout the night. Many folks, especially those who live in the flat lands, don’t realize that their bodies require more water at altitude. Drink even if you’re not thirsty.

At the end of the day, we hunt for fun. It’s not worth risking life or limb and nobody is going to judge you for taking the necessary precautions for facing such a situation as spending a cold night in your truck. You may even throw a good book and magazines into your “safety kit.” Peril doesn’t mean you can’t also enjoy a little rest and relaxation while you’re at it.