by R. Cade Powell for Western Hunter
As I shut my truck door and mumbled under my breath, my seven year-old asked if I was alright in only the way a kid who is genuinely concerned about you can do. I smiled and said, “I’m alright but I am more grateful that you are fine. Now you know why you have to be buckled in your booster seat in the back!” She just grinned at me with those big blue eyes and in a matter-of-fact tone stated, “Dad, I heard what you said but I won’t tell mom.” Little did she know, but that comment earned her a lifetime supply of blue Slurpee’s!
As I pulled back onto the road and pointed the truck toward home, I wasn’t sure how I was going to break the news to my wife. I only had 8 miles to figure it out so my brain was working overtime. I knew Rainey wouldn’t keep a secret of this magnitude very long so that further complicated matters. As the garage door shut behind me, a light popped on in my brain. Maybe it wasn’t a light but more like a low dull glow as my wife has come to expect. Anyway, I finally had a plan.
We walked into the kitchen and set the bags of groceries on the counter. Brooke was finishing up dinner at the kitchen stove. As slowly and nonchalantly as a seven year-old and her dad can get, we tried to make a break for it. Brooke shot me a glance as if to ask why I wasn’t putting the groceries away since her hands were already busy. I mumbled something about the potty and continued through the house. I almost made it across the living room when I heard Brooke gasp. “Cade! What happened? Did you wreck the truck?” I just grinned as she pulled the Ford insignia and part of a mule deer antler out of the grocery bag……………….. I don’t think she would have cared as much if the truck wasn’t only 8 months old!
I live in Southern Wyoming where deer, elk, pronghorn, moose, and even range cows are a threat each and every time I get in the vehicle. It’s a risk I’m willing to take to live in such a beautiful spot where I have the opportunity to see those types of animals out my back door. Knowing the hazards and risk of an animal collision with ‘her’ new truck, I had been researching grille guards and replacement front bumpers for over a year. Just that morning, I had parked by a truck that had the exact bumper I wanted. I pointed it out to Brooke and said “we need that bumper especially with our oldest just beginning to drive”!
After I steamrolled that mule deer buck, I took my truck in for the estimates to begin the process of having it repaired. The local body shop I chose, Barkhurst Collision Center, was an authorized dealer for Ranch Hand bumpers. As we discussed the price of the Ford replacement bumper I asked about putting the Ranch Hand on instead. He showed me the price difference and I had him go ahead and place the order after consulting with the boss. She was like a mother hen protecting her brood and wanted a bumper on each vehicle so her kids would be safer when they were riding with their dad!
Why did I choose the Ranch Hand?
In my research, I found about 1 dozen different companies manufacturing bumpers and grille guards. The materials used and manufacturing facilities were as varied as the names and promises. Some were start-up companies and some had a few years under their belts. Some were built on American soil and some were not. Some used cheap materials and some did not. The common theme I found between all the companies I researched was their attempt to mimic the top company in the business: Ranch Hand. Ranch Hand was my original choice and every company and product I researched validated that choice.
They’ve been the best since start-up in 1986. With over 230 full-time employees and 70,000 pounds of steel used EVERY DAY, it was comforting to know Ranch Hand would be around as long as my bumper.
The Summit Replacement Bumper is made in America with 182 pounds of steel mounted to the vehicles frame in 4 places. It is one-piece fully welded construction with a durable black powder coat finish. The main portion of the bumper is manufactured from diamond plate steel and the grille insert even matches the factory grille pattern on your truck.
The continuous upright bar adds strength and durability with a Euro bar on top to add strength to the headlight loops. The fit on my 2013 F-150 is such that my truck even retains its manufacturer tow hooks and fog lights required to mount onto my truck as it matched pre-existing holes in the frame. In addition to its rugged construction I think the Summit is the best looking replacement bumper on the market.
Winter still has a deep hold on Southern Wyoming. May 11th, the mountains within 15 miles of my house received over 40 inches of snow. Needless to say, I haven’t been able to test my bumper out in the field hunting and fishing. Look for a review this fall that will cover aspects such as: clearance; accessibility to the engine; potential decrease in fuel economy (to this point I haven’t seen any decrease in my MPG’s); added wear to front tires; and anything else I can think of. In fact, if you’ll respond to this blog, or FaceBook pages with questions you would like me to analyze and answer, I’d love to keep notes as I get to hunt and fish across several western states this summer and fall. For any additional questions or to see their full line-up of replacement bumpers, grille guards, rear bumpers, headache racks, push bars and bull nose bumpers go visit the Ranch Hand website at www.RanchHand.com