Today was a fairly normal day on the road for me. I’d delivered a load of drinks to Santa Fe the previous evening before driving down to the truck stop outside Albuquerque to rest up. Thought it’d be busier really but it was only half full. So, this morning I took the chance of a quick wash and brush up before breakfast in the grill. Then it was time to check in with Jed, my dispatcher. I brought Jed on board not long after I got my first rig, the Peterbilt 579. Back when I was a hire-rat it didn’t matter if the office was a mess but once I became an owner driver I quickly realised that some organisation was needed at home base. Jed’s an ex-driver – gave it up because he wanted to spend more time with his family – so he jumped at the chance to get back into the business without having to spend long nights away from home. Together, we’ve started to build the business.

I remember the look of surprise on his face when I came back to the depot in a Freightliner FLB a few months back. I saw her at a Kenworth dealership in Los Angeles and fell in love – old school cabovers have a certain appeal and she was in beautiful condition. I reasoned back then that the time was right to expand the business. We advertised for a driver the next day and spent quite a while looking over the applicants – Jed said we should go with a young lady name of Mille. I wasn’t sure but she had the best credentials of the applicants so I agreed. It was a good decision and Mille has quickly become one of the Republik family!

I rang base – “What’ya got for me today Jed?” It seems the weather in Bakersfield is bright and sunny – funny how a question about consignments and manifests starts off with a weather report – but that’s Jed all over! “Yeah – it’s a sunny morning over here too! – now quit stalling.” It turns out that jed has sourced a load of white goods – Toasters, Kettles and Microwaves – going south to an outlet in Las Cruces. “You’ve remembered I’m in Albuquerque, right?” “Yeah – collection is just across the interstate from where your at. They’re open and ready for you, said you can come ahead!” So that’s my first job of the day. “And…” Jed continues “I think the receiving company will have a follow-up consignment – I’m just negotiating that at the moment.” Now that’s good news – nothing costs a company more than dead time.

I haven’t told you but I’m out in a new truck – well I’ve had her about a week. We were ready to expand again so I popped into the local Pete dealer thinking about a second 579. I’ve been really pleased with the first one – reliable and economical. Mille certainly seems to be getting the best out of it. I told the dealer my thoughts – I like the 579 but I’d like something a little a little more traditional. He suggested the 567 – it’s a 579 but with a heritage twist. In fact they even do a Heritage model! I liked the idea and decided to get a special paint job – whilst Jed didn’t agree with spending the extra money I’m sure he’ll like her when he sees her first hand. You see, the Bakersfield dealer couldn’t source the special so he put me in touch with his fellow dealer in Flagstaff who was happy to help out. He even took a photo of her as I drove her around the block for the first time……579 inside but traditional outside – I like it!

So back to now – I picked up the load for Las Cruces and set off down I-25. Traffic was light until I reached Socorro. It was like night of the living dead driving through there and we came to a stand on a couple of occasions for no good reason other than people not knowing what lane they needed to be in. Losing momentum is frustrating for truckers and it gave me an excuse to test the air-horns – Yepp, they work! I was just crawling into Las Cruces when Jed called back – “That follow-up is confirmed – You got used packaging to take over to Roswell – I’ll fill you in while they unload you.” When I arrived at the delivery point it seemed like the only guy around was security……but I’d caught them on their coffee break and they quickly found me a bay to back into…

Jed came back with details of the used packaging consignment – it’s destination was unknown until just before he called me because the consigner was looking for the best price for handling the stuff. Now Roswell was confirmed. Used Packaging doesn’t pay very well but as a load to fill in the rest of the driver’s hours it’s a good option. My concern was whether I’d make Roswell inside my remaining hours. Jed said “You’ll be fine.” – and promptly hung up! With the cargo unloaded I had to shuffle to a different bay for the old boxes to be put on board. It always amazes me how empty boxes weigh more than full ones – close on 39000lbs to drag east.

Loaded up with a quick bite and some coffee I set off into the evening……skirting Alamogordo and up to Carrizozo before turning east once more. It’s quiet on the road late evening and you get to thinking. Names of places en-route remind me of the Westerns I saw when I was a kid – the Rio Grande that we crossed near Las Cruces. There’s the Pecos River over at Roswell – There’s no law west of Dodge and no God west of the Pecos. And we’re riding the Billy the Kid Trail – now hows that for a liturgy of westerns?

By the time I reached the outskirts of Roswell I was starting to feel tired. It’s funny how the signals seem to stay red for longer when you’re reaching the end of your drive and looking for a nice warm bed! I made it to the delivery just within my hours and the handlers unloaded the trailer pretty quickly. Then it was time to head for a motel – I needed a proper night’s sleep!..…I’ll tell Jed about the westerns in the morning and get a weather report too 😉

With more hunting time under my belt, I thought this post could be a bit of a ‘tips’ issue for those considering giving the game a try. Some of my tips may also be of use to people already playing, dependent upon their level or things that they have yet to try. The assumption is that the reader has the base game with just the two reserves – Layton Lakes and Hirschfelden.

My first tip for when you start the game is to work through a day (0600-1900) in one of the reserves and then do the same in the other – the order doesn’t matter. This will put you through several simple beginner missions and give you a feel for each of the reserves. Because each mission at beginner level gives easy experience points and a good amount of cash for doing very little, doing one day in each reserve at the start will give you a very good financial base for your hunting campaign. At the end of the first day’s hunting at whichever reserve you went to first you will probably have reached level 4 – opening up the first of the weapon upgrades – and you will also probably have discovered and claimed 2 outposts.

Your first weapon purchase should be a bow – the Bearclaw is a good option. The smaller deer, Roe and Blacktail, can be suckered in to very close proximity using the callers you already have amongst your lures and are easily shot with the bow. Remember to aim low if they are very close or your shot will pass over them. It’s worth noting how Roe Deer only make a mating call very occasionally so don’t be peeping your’s too often – the trick is once and then sit and wait for them to come to you. Being stationary is important – they don’t have good eyesight and what they have is tuned to detect movement. Your first weapon upgrade should be Polymer tipped bullets for your .243 rifle and all future bullet purchases should be of this type where available.

Pick on someone your own size! Don’t waste your time and effort going for large game with the .243 you get at the start. Even Roe Deer are unlikely to go down instantly with this weapon and your initial accuracy is challenged by the poor quality of the sights and your inability to adjust them for range. Unless you get very lucky and have a clean heart-shot from very close range, like the one I had on a Red Deer, at best you’re going to have a long walk tracking the animal you shot. At worst – and I experimented with this – you’re setting your self up for trouble. I tried out the .243 with soft-tip bullets on a Black Bear for the purposes of this post. It was a clean shot to the chest which I know would have resulted in a reasonably quick kill if I was using the .270 with polymer bullets. The bear let out a roar and ran off – probably thought it had been stung by a bee! So I tracked it following the low bleed rate trail. It was only a matter of time before the bear turned round and charged me giving me a nasty whack before running off again. I put another shot into it during our decidely unfriendly meeting. I continued the pursuit and we repeated the process – another clawing and another shot put into the bear as it ran away. The bear turned to charge me again and I put my 4th shot into it which finally felled the beast. I was fortunate, that third charge would have killed me (returned me to the nearest outpost to recover) and the bear would have died of its wounds unharvested resulting in a financial and XP penalty for the next few kills. The message is – the .243 is a pop-gun which is why you will want to replace it as soon as possible.

Hunting Structures and other marked items on the map. Don’t go too far out of your way to do so, but investigating the question-marks on the map is worthwhile. Those beside trails and roads are often information relating to reserve lore and give an XP bonus. Those in the middle of nowhere can be another structure of interest but are most often ground blinds or towers for you to build. These give the minor advantage of reduced hunting pressure (remember that from my post back in July?) and some XP when you construct them but, I’d recommend not bothering to build them unless required to by a mission. Each one will cost you the financial equivalent of three Roe Deer kills – there are better ways to spend your money! Concentrate on honing your skill in using the available terrain and foliage to mask your presence.

Resolving the .243 issue… There is a lot of ‘hate’ directed towards this gun because it is so feeble. One way to get an improvement is to buy the .223 Docent rifle and carry it alongside the .270 Huntsman (Stradivarius version is free). The .223 is essential in Hirschfelden for Foxes and will take down Roe Deer if you get a good enough shot while the .270 works very well against Wild Boar. Here’s a Fox I shot from around 110m with the .223……Whether you go down this route or persevere with the .243 and the Huntsman, you have an issue – you’re taking up two equipment slots to cover the range of common smaller animals, which limits you when it comes to carrying a bow, handgun and weapons for larger game. Don’t forget that you will also have your binoculars and some lures with you. You can buy a backpack – which increases your carrying capacity a little but you still have only 10 immediate access slots and there is a noise and visibility penalty. My recommendation is to buy the Weapons Pack 2 DLC. This pack includes the Solokhin MN1890 – actually a Mosin Nagant 1890 – which is an old military rifle. Because it only uses soft-point amunition, it can be used to kill any of the small to medium deer without integrity penalty. It’s also a very accurate gun over long range – my longest vital hit kill was done with this gun, a Whitetail Deer at 230m. Because it is so versatile, you can use it to replace both the .243 and the .270, freeing up a weapons slot. Of course, if you want to hunt Red Fox or Rabbit, etc then you’ll still need to carry an appropriate smaller weapon.

Setting up your ‘weapons slots’… Actually, the slots need to have all the items you need for your day’s hunting intentions. I usually put my binoculars in slot 5 where they form a useful marker between weapons and lures. Slot 1 is the lowest powered rifle, slot 2 is the next most powerful rifle, slot 3 will be either the bow or a rifle suited to the bigger game such as Black Bear, Bison or Moose, and slot 4 is always my Handgun. So a typical loadout for me in Hirschfelden might be – .223 Docent, Solokhin MN1890, Bearclaw Bow, Handgun. In Layton Lakes it could be a 20GA Shotgun, Solokhin MN1890, 7mm Regent Magnum and the Handgun. If you keep your weapons slots organised then the chance of you pulling out the wrong gun in a hot moment is greatly reduced.

I’ve mentioned Handguns. The first available to you is the Focoso .357 and there’s nothing wrong with it as personal defensive weapon. Remember that some animals can become agressive without warning – I was walking down the road, minding my own business, when a Wild Boar took exception to my presence and charged me from the undergrowth. Since then I have carried a Handgun and it’s been open-season on Piggies 😉 Turning once again to Weapons Pack 2, you’ll find an excellent .45 handgun, the Mangiafico 410/45 Colt. This is a very capable weapon which can be loaded with either .45 Hard-Cast bullets or .410 Birdshot (shotgun ammo), which makes it very versatile. I have used this gun with the Birdshot to kill Ducks and Jackrabbits. Earlier today with the .45 ammo it took down a Whitetail deer that blundered into me while I was checking something on the map! I was very glad to have it with me at Petershain Cornfields – an OK Corral meeting between me and a family of 6 Piggies. Hunter wounded twice; one piggie wounded and two dead 🙂 Here’s one I shot earlier in a less stressed situation…

Weapons Packs and other DLC’s.. Weapons added to the game by purchasing a weapons pack DLC are immediately available and are ‘free’ in terms of games currency – it’s not exactly ‘pay-to-win’, more pay to enhance your enjoyment. It’s up to you whether you start running around with a weapon beyond the game rank you’ve reached – personally I waited until the equivalent gun was unlocked. I’ve mentioned Pack 2 twice and the third gun that comes in the pack is also worth a look as it is also an example of versatility. This is the Grelck Drilling Rifle – a double-barrelled shotgun with a large bore rifle barrel below. I’ve tried it and found that it takes a bit of getting used to but it is certainly one to have in your ‘lets go hunting with that today’ collection. The shotgun mentioned in my Layton Lakes loadout above comes from a DLC called Wild Goose Chase – you’ll need this DLC if you want to hunt Canada Geese in Hirschfelden (otherwise they just fly overhead). The gun is the Strecker SxS 20G. I have used it against Geese and it works well (even if the hunter doesn’t!). I haven’t tried it on the Mallard Ducks in Layton Lakes but I had a field day shooting Jackrabbit yesterday……It was definitely Wabbit season and not one of them asked me ‘What’s up Doc?’

So there’s a few tips from me. There are lots more starter tips in videos on YouTube and it’s worth taking a look at some of those to hear other peoples ideas. There’s also the Wiki where you can check out the guns I’ve mentioned and find out a bit about the reserves and animals. The game may be a hunting game but sometimes it’s as much about the beauty – sometimes it’s nice to enjoy the Fallow Deer…

…That’s all Folks 😉