The Mystery Machine is about to roll. The Mystery Machine is the name my brother gave my minivan a couple years ago. For over a decade I have been venturing out across the country chasing hunting adventure on a shoestring budget. I’ve owned a series of vans, and somehow within my hunting circle they became associated with Scooby Doo, the association though somewhat dubious has stuck. The first one was dubbed Scooby. The second became known as Scrappy. And, the third is the Mystery Machine.
Originally, I hunted out of a Pontiac sedan, and slept in the back seat. That turned out to be rather uncomfortable. For more comfort I began bringing a tent along, but that wasn’t practical in farm country, and was only really an advantage for packing in a ways, which I almost never had to do in typical whitetail country. I then bought a small Chevy truck and put a topper on it. I slept in the back while on hunts. Having a solid roof over my head and a place to cook on the back bumper was a big step up in comfort. The final step was the minivan, which in my estimation is the perfect hunting setup.
The minivan allows direct access to the back of the van. When you remove the seats you have more than enough room for all you gear, and you also have enough room for sleeping and cooking. And, if you happen to kill something you can fit it easily in the back. Over the years I have become more and more organized and now have a set of plastic tubs for all my gear on one side, and a bunk on the other, along with a heater designed for inside. I carry all the food and water I need, and also carry enough water to wash and practice scent control.
Hunting adventure is what you make it. I don’t really have enough money for big time hunts across the U.S. so my solution is DIY hunting from my van. I love to roam, and hunt new terrain. My favorite way to hunt is just to show up somewhere and figure out how to hunt there. My goals vary. Sometimes any deer is my goal, other times a mature buck is what I’m after. Testing your skill by going in blind is pure hunting. Hunting manicured whitetail properties is pleasant, but after everything is set up the hunting basically ends as far as I’m concerned. Sure you still have to put in time, and make the shot, but the magic of the truly wild is somehow lost. On my shoestring hunts where I end up is often a mystery. The association with the name should be obvious in that last sentence. One time I decided to hunt in Missouri, so I started in the northeast corner of the state and kept moving west until I found a tract of public land that held some big mature bucks, and wasn’t slammed with hunters. I took me ten days of searching to find the right spot. When I found it I hunted for a week and ended up having an encounter with a giant eight pointer that ended with the buck getting the best of me. I often locate tracts of public land and just drive out and hunt. This was the case in North Dakota and Nebraska. Sometimes I connect with friends along the way. Where he goes nobody knows.
My Mystery Machine hunting journey is about to begin. This year I’m starting with a bear hunt in northern Maine, before heading west. Along the way I will be posting stories and pictures from my journey. Come along with me in the Mystery Machine.
P.S. I get out of my van once in a while and get back into the woods.