There’s plenty of crossover between over-the-highway firearm transportation and off-road gun management, but there are important differences that require some planning on the part of the hunter. Transporting firearms always involves safety for all vehicle occupants and security for the firearms, but off-roading adds additional demands from exposure to the elements, jostling from rough terrain and the possible need for quick deployment.
The fact that you are already off-road means that in many cases you can legally shoot mere steps away from the vehicle. You must anticipate different scenarios when game might be spotted as you drive, which can create an urgency to get out and put the crosshairs or bead on the target.
These scenarios require careful planning and actual practice removing the unloaded firearm from its riding position with absolute full control over the muzzle. How many hunting partners jump out and open the crew cab doors across from each other and pull their rifles out with muzzles pointing across the back seat at the their partners? This should NEVER happen.
The vehicle owner should take the lead in setting up his rig so people and firearms are kept safe. Everyone in the vehicle should know exactly what the rules are about firearms in the vehicle. Each passenger should know exactly how they’ll place and remove the gun from the vehicle with a controlled muzzle. They should know how they will safely load their firearm as they step away from the vehicle, and they should rehearse these moves ahead of time.
Sealed hard cases such as those offered by Pelican Products do a great job of protecting from impact and vibration with the added benefit of protecting from dust and water. Sling style racks such as the seat-back mounted versions by Classic Accessories provide shock absorption along with ready access.
One of my favorite ways to protect off-roading firearms is by using ATV gun boots (shown above). These hard-shell gun scabbards are available from all of the major ATV manufacturers and are designed to mount on their machines. Gun boots can also work well in the back of a pickup or SUV. When not on the ATV, I just put mine, with rifle inside, on the floor behind my truck seat and slide it into the stock mount when we roll the ATV out of the trailer.
Here are some additional off-road gun management products:
Great Day’s Quick Draw gun rack (below) is designed for use in most pickups as well as UTV models with flat floor space. Ideal for quick and safe deployment, it mounts in a “stand alone” fashion and can be positioned to your preferred angle for quick access and maximum use of passenger space.
The QuickDraw Overhead Gun Rack by Great Day safely keeps firearms at your fingertips ready for action! Offers great protection from the elements for vehicles with covers on the top. The QD850OGR holds two guns securely in the inside roof area of most popular brands of UTVs, including Polaris Ranger, Kawasaki Mule (600,610,4010), Kubota RTV, Honda Big Red and other UTVs with inside upper roof frames measuring 23-28 inches from front to back.
TruckVault says its All-Weather Extreme Series , "is as extreme as it gets." Through frigid Montana winters and blistering Texas summers, your gear is protected to the fullest (below). "We’ve even taken fire hoses to the front of the TruckVault—that’s over 100 pounds of direct water pressure, and not a drop got inside."
The Seat Back Gun Rack by Classic Accessories (below) quickly hangs across seat back in SUVs or pickup trucks and holds up to three rifles or shotguns. With non-slip foam interiors, this rack folds easily for storage and comes with a 1 year warranty backed by the manufacturer. It comes in Realtree camo and black.
For more info on NSSF's Project Child Safe go to ProjectChildSafe.org.