Spring turkey hunts are usually fair-weather events, yet a recent trip to South Dakota became a mix of slushy snow, high winds, and a mud bath immersion. The same foul weather cancelled most air travel, so I wound up arriving in Rapid City at 4:15 a.m. This is when I got my first glimpse of the new Titan HD Diesel. In my semi-conscious state, the deep blue pearl color perked my attention despite the all-night travel.
After a few hours of sleep in a local hotel, I jogged to the rig, doing my best to stay dry. At this point, the HD was new and shiny, yet I chuckled at the mud bath this bad boy would suffer in the days ahead. I admired the black leather interior and the eight-way multidimensional seat adjustments, and the Rockford Premium sound system with 12 speakers really rocked the Sirius XM satellite radio reception as I got underway.
The speed limit on I-90 in South Dakota is 80 mph, and the Cummings 5.0 V8 Turbo Diesel hummed right along. With 310 horsepower and 555 ft-lbs. of torque, I was ready for whatever the prairie could dish out. My only reservation was the LT R20 street tires designed for towing and open-road cruising, instead of off-road mayhem. Luckily the Titan had shift-on-the-fly 4WD and a two-speed transfer case, systems with which I’d become frequently acquainted.
This turkey hunt was a ranch-style event where off-road access was a significant factor in locating and accessing flocks of Merriams and Rios in the Badlands terrain. I arrived at noon and all 12 hunters were in camp due to the howling wind, a temperature just above freezing, and pouring rain. The inclement onslaught continued throughout the night and into the following morning, so the whole camp slept in. Luckily, Scott Schultz, president of Robinson Outdoors, had brought me a set of his quality Downpour ScentBlocker rain gear and I headed out on foot toward an area that often held birds. Ironically, I hadn’t walked 400 yards when I spotted a gobbler and used the foul weather to make a stealthy stalk. Boom! An 18-pound longbeard was mine the first morning of the hunt.
Ranch Country Test Track
My early success meant that I became the transportation mode by which to ride around the large ranch. Additionally, it seemed that someone always needed to call their wife or office and would ask to borrow the truck to drive up a nearby mountain to get cell service. Although the roads were marginally passable, they met at a giant mud hole through which everyone had to drive; if they didn’t get a big enough splash, they backed up and tried again. At least this gave drivers a look at the back-up camera display, which is awesome. Although I pretended to relinquished the keys grudgingly, I wanted to get their opinions about the truck and see how it handled in off-road conditions. “It’s really quiet,” was the most consistent comment. Some seemed surprised that it was a diesel, despite the large logo on the front fender. “I had all four wheels turning at the same time,” said another. Personally, I was gratified to see that the four-wheel power train worked so well.
Coming Clean Again
As the hunt drew to a close, I finally washed the truck since all of that mud kept working its way inside, where it didn’t look so cool. As the hunt concluded, I headed back to Rapid City to drop off the Titan. Although the fuel economy and environment ratings are not yet available, I found the truck cruised very comfortably at upper highway speeds and netted 20 mpg on the highway. At $56,505, the new HD is competitive with other diesel models and is impressive as a personal vehicle or an outdoor family transport. It has extensive towing capacity and a power rear center window that makes communicating extra easy with those in the bed. The bed itself contains specialized attachment cleats that keeping your load as safe as your passengers. Check out the new Titan HD at your local dealer or visit Nissan’s website.
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