We anglers and hunters often need to drive our vehicles well off the beaten path in pursuit of fish and game, and that can put us in some pretty sticky situations—especially when rain turns the terrain into a slick, muddy mess. In some areas, just a small amount of rainfall can transform a dirt road, trail or field into a slip-and-slide playground, often resulting in your vehicle getting stuck in the gumbo-like muck. And in no time at all, the mud will adhere to the treads in your tires, rendering them all but useless for traction. No matter what gear you select or how much you gun the engine, your tires will only spin like rollers on a conveyer belt. So, what do you do? Follow these steps to reverse your vehicle out of a mess and get back in the game.
Find a 16-inch-long piece of solid wood, preferably split in a triangular shape, such as a piece of firewood. The wood must be solid and stiff enough to be tied down from both sides without breaking or bending, and to withstand the weight of your vehicle.
Feed a ratchet strap (or rope) through the rim of one wheel (a front wheel on a front-wheel-drive vehicle, or a rear wheel on a rear-wheel-drive vehicle). Ensure you feed the strap close to the right side of a spoke so it won’t slip when the wheel rotates backwards. Next, place the piece of wood on top of the tire and loop the strap around both ends. Tighten the wood securely to the tire using the ratchet device (or a suitable knot, such as a trucker’s hitch, if using rope). Make sure there’s enough clearance for the tire to turn without the wood hitting and damaging the wheel well or fender.
If you’re driving a 4×4, you can leverage the power going to both axles by repeating the process on the opposite tire on the other axle.
Place the vehicle in reverse and accelerate very slowly, letting the tire (or tires) rotate until the wood meets the ground. At that point, the wood should act as a paddle and grip the ground, providing traction for the vehicle to continue to reverse. Proceed very slowly, or you risk damaging your vehicle’s axle, differential or drivetrain. Once you’re back on solid ground, remove the strap and wood, and carry on.
Alberta contributor Gord Nuttall writes about hunting and outdoors skills.