How to Get Your Pickup Unstuck


In springtime the roads are especially wet coming off either a rainy season or winter snow melt. But that should never deter a good turkey or bear hunt this time of year. If you are a passionate outdoorsman, chances are you have had your pickup stuck in mud. Here are some unique items and helpful tips to get unstuck.

Switch to 4X4, lower tire pressure

When you first realize that you’re stuck, the first thing to do is assess the situation. If you haven’t done so already, switch the truck to 4-wheel-drive if it’s available and lower your tire pressure. Less pressure in your tires will allow the tread to flatten out and gain better traction. This is especially a technique when driving in sand or when you know you’ll be hitting some soft spots. 

Rock it out

The next thing you want to do is test whether it’s possible to get the truck out on its own by rocking it back and forth. Be careful not to gun the engine as this could make matters worse. If you have a friend along, have him push the car as you accelerate slowly, first in reverse and then in drive. Move the tires from side to side also to gain traction. When stuck in snow, this could be all you need. If you end up more stuck before in a bigger hold, then stop. 

Add traction

Your next option is to add traction and dig a whole behind the tires to clear any obstructions and lower the angle the wheels have to travel out of the whole. For this it’s a great idea to carry a pick and shovel. If you don’t want to sacrifice space, the Hi-Lift Jack is a great option. Once you’ve done this, place material like spruce bows, logs or boards under the tires to help gain traction. You could even carry the plastic treads known as Max Trax made especially for such situations.  When tractors get stuck in the mud, chain and lumber are farmers’ best friend. They typically attach lumber to the wheel hub in different ways, either length-wise behind both tires or individually to each tire with a heavy chain so that when the tires turn they rise right up out of the hole. A variation on this theme comes from a couple of gentleman who purport to have invented a device that attaches to the lug nuts. 

Winch it out

Okay, so none of that worked, but lo and behold you have a winch. This is a luxury for hardcore off-roaders that many outdoorsmen might not have or choose to purchase. If you do have a winch, there are some tips and techniques to remember. Even without a winch, for big trucks it is possible to strap a rope around a dual-wheel hub and use that as a winch to fixed object. A variation on this theme is something called a wheel winch. Or for the really low-budget solution, you can use a “come-along” or a DIY hand-winch by cranking on a strap tied to a fixed object using two pieces of timber. 

Get help

If all else fails, get help. Using a towing strap, another truck or ATV can usually pull you right out.

Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons by Robert Patten