Q I have been reading this wonderful magazine for years, and I love the Whoops! department and reading about the stuck trucks. As I was reading the latest issue I noticed a pattern to this story and stories from the past. A person is stuck in the mud (or other material), tries to get out, and ends up breaking stuff. Such as burned out two winches, broke tow straps, the truck trying to get the person unstuck got stuck itself. The stories usually end with, We came back with the proper equipment, got more help, waited for daylight, or called a tow truck.
I love these stories because they have not happened to meknock wood.
What is the best way to recover from some of the stucks? What should a person do differently when winching out of deep mud? I know it is just a matter of time before I go just a little farther than I should and get a whoops-worthy stuck.
The photos I sent are from last year’s March campout with the Boy Scouts.
Scoutmaster Jerald A.
A Getting unstuck is an art, and an art with many different recipes. Almost all methods will work sometimes, but sometimes none will work.
For now, we’ll stick to the common mud stuck. How does it happen? Some people go in the mud in 2WD under the assumption that if they get stuck they’ll just shift into 4WD and get out. Some get as much momentum as possible before they hit the mud, hoping it will carry them through the slick stuff. Some air down their tires to get a larger contact patch in the mud. Some run big, wide tires to float on the mud. Some run tall, skinny tires to dig down to solid ground under the mud. Some use tire chains in the mud. Some feel you should crawl through mud the same way you crawl through rocks. Some throttle down the whole way through any mud, hoping the wheel spin will clean the tires and keep digging through. Some turn the steering wheel back and forth while crossing mud so that they can keep biting and looking for traction.
When momentum stops, people get off the throttle instantly and try to back up so they don’t dig down into the mud. Some people never lift until the truck is buried to the frame, assuming they’ll eventually get to bedrock and start moving again.
Once stuck, some people try rocking front and back from Drive to Reverse, hoping to open the wheel holes slightly to get momentum up and eventually blast out. Some start digging to clear the tires so they wheels are not blocked by mud. Some bury sticks, branches, bales of straw, corn seed, gravel, floor mats, seat covers, plywood, or whatever else they can get their hands on to add traction. Often these people use a Hi-Lift jack (www.hi-lift.com) on an off-road base to raise the vehicle to put said stuff under the tires. Some people use a snatch strap like a BubbaRope (www.bubbarope.com) attached to solid frame-mounted recovery points and have a second truck get a good run until the strap stretches and pops the stuck truck out. Some people winch out. Some people realize that clearing the mud from around the frame and tires with a shovel or your hands (this is a great job for the Scouts) prior to winching and snatch strapping reduces the stress on both snatch straps and winches.
Some people are scared of being stranded in the woods where lions, bears, Bigfoot, or moonshiners will come drag them off into the dark. Some people see getting stuck as just another challenge and take it all in stride, staying calm and figuring that in the worst-case scenario they will have to walk home in the dark, in the rain, with the girl they took out muddin’, whose father is probably waiting up with a shotgun and an angry look.
Some people better have a good credit card to pay for the ’dozer, the blown engine, the trespassing fine, and the repairs to the farmer’s cornfield after getting stuck mud bogging where they shouldn’t have been mud bogging in the first place.
Some people will get to laugh and point at their buddy who is stuck trying to follow them where he shouldn’t have gone.
Some people will claim they hate mud because they don’t like getting stuck, cleaning their 4x4 after getting stuck, or repairing all the bearings and stuff that needs tending to after getting impregnated with mud.
Some people aren’t having fun until they’re good and stuck in the mud.
Some people claim they’re truck is too good to get stuck; those people just haven’t found a deep enough mud hole.
I’m not sure if these will help you, but they’re all true, sometimes. As for you, I’d say take the troops four-wheeling in a designated off-road area, get good and stuck, and let them earn a merit badge helping extract the Jeep. Teach them recovery safety. And keep the phone number of a tow truck, a farmer with tractor, or a bulldozer operator handy, just in case.
If you want more info, check out Bill Burke’s DVD Getting Unstuck (www.bb4wa.com). He does a lot of four-wheeling and off-road driver training, and though the video isn’t the most exciting, action-packed film I’ve ever watched (sorry, Bill) it is very informative and precise in techniques for vehicle extraction.