Sneaky Run-and-Gun Turkey Hunting with a Hybrid Cart is deadly
Bob McNally 04.20.15
I’ve used silent electric carts for off-road hunting for many years. They are remarkable ATVs, enabling sportsmen to access areas with total stealth that doesn’t disturb game. The trouble with electric carts, however, is they have limited range because battery power drains quickly when many miles must be covered over rough terrain.
And when cart batteries die, a vehicle stops cold. Often it’s a long walk back to camp, and cell phone service to summon help is rarely available. Towing a dead electric cart with another ATV works. But forget pushing an out-of-juice cart back on a trailer for getting out of the woods, since most weigh a 1/2 ton or more.
This is the beauty of the “hybrid” hunting cart design. The vehicle has a gas engine for long range running, with an electric motor for silent approach to game. Plus, if cart batteries die, the gas motor makes getting back to camp a breeze.
Hybrid hunting carts are made by several companies, but the HuntVe is the first I’ve used. They are remarkable outdoor vehicles.
The HuntVe 4×4 cart I hunted from belongs to Preston Pittman, famed 5-time world turkey calling champion. He, Jimmy Barton (Mississippi Regional Director for the National Wild Turkey Federation), and I took off for toms one afternoon in central Mississippi.
We piled guns, turkey vests, and other gear into the HuntVe 4×4 “hybrid” vehicle. Then Pittman cranked the gas engine to his hunting cart, and we chugged away in 4-wheel drive from our hunting cabin over muddy and rutted roads. Barton knows that turf like his backyard and pointed our direction through secluded lanes and trails that the cart powered through without a hitch. The vehicle slogged across several knee-deep creeks with gumbo mud that would have been challenging even for a big 4×4 truck to traverse.
Finally, Barton said we were in prime gobbler terrain, and Pittman smiled wide.
“Time for stealth mode,” he said as he flipped a switch while the vehicle was still in motion.
Instantly the cart’s gas-fueled motor shut down, and a second, soundless, battery-powered motor kicked in. Cart speed never wavered, and it still muscled through mud, rocks, over fallen trees, and around dense understory debris.
In the cart powered by batteries, we slipped along silently for turkey hunting over a forest lane for several hundred yards. Then, on a ridge top Pittman stopped and called turkeys several times.
Nothing, so we eased along silently again for several minutes. We stopped, he called, nothing, and we moved.
For 45 minutes we hunted that way, twice getting a tom turkey to gobble, but we couldn’t sweet-talk the bird close.
Finally, near a pine ridge top, Pittman stopped the cart, called, and a tom boomed a gobble from just off the road. We’d gotten within 100 yards of the tom–something unthinkable in a noisy gas-powered hunting vehicle.
Quickly we grabbed guns and gear, spreading out across a slight rise in the woods terrain just 30 yards from the parked and camouflage-painted cart.
With our backs against big trees, knees up, and shotguns ready, Pittman hen yelped a second time. Instantly the forest rattled with a loud gobble from a much closer tom.
Barton was 40 yards to my right, Pittman the same distance behind and to the far side of Barton. Everyone was ready for the approaching tom.
That’s when Barton’s 12-gauge roared and a 3-year old gobbler with long and full beard fell. It was taken just 20 yards from Barton, less than 60 yards from the parked hunting cart.
“No way we’d have gotten that tom without a hybrid hunting vehicle,” said Barton, beaming with pride at the heavy bird with full and wide tail fan.
“Yep,” agreed Pittman. “They put a whole new meaning to run-and-gun hunting.”