On my quest to outfit my 2017 F-150 with all the said modifications, last week I took delivery on a new Ranch Hand Legend Series Grille Guard. When Friday rolled around, I decided to enlist the help of a few good buds to install my grille guard, actually six of them, all named Bud Light. I was on my way home from town with my 6-pack in tow and a smile on my face, ready to install the grille guard that was sitting in my shop still wrapped, and on the palette, when it happened. A pheasant from hell flushed and flew out of the ditch sending itself like a missile toward the grille on my truck and immediately I heard the impact. Like the AC/DC song says, I was "Thunderstruck" and my heart sank. Seriously, moments before I have my Ranch Hand grille guard installed, a beautiful game bird ruins the day by cracking my grille, headlight and trim kit, which all combined cost me nearly $1000 dollars to replace.
I have had close encounters with coyotes and other small game, but truly, my wildlife nemesis isn't large animals like most may think, but rather pheasants. A few years back, my then RAM 1500 suffered the same fate when I was ambushed by a flushing kamikaze pheasant that decided to take up shop in my grill. The result ended up being the annihilation of that grill and sheer frustration, on my behalf, knowing my brand-new vehicle was now sporting some damage.
I have, somehow, been able to defy all statistics and avoid any large wildlife-vehicle collisions with the whitetail deer, mule deer and pronghorns, that call this area home. In Kansas, statistics say that 1 in every 127 drivers hit a deer last year. I don’t know what the pheasant collision statistics would be, but it’s clear that I could contribute to that study with my experiences. The reality is that collisions mean money – money to fix the damage incurred. If we’re talking about money, it is interesting to note that a Ranch Hand Legend Grille Guard, like the one I just installed, costs around 15% of the average deer strike insurance claim. A grille guard has the potential to save you some serious coin down the road.
So, after fixing the damage that ringneck caused, I was more than ready to get my Ranch Hand grille guard installed. You can have your grille guard installed by a dealer, however I chose to do it at home in my shop. I drive a 2017 Ford F-150 and truly, the installation was a breeze. I began by removing the plastic housing unit around the tow hooks. This housing unit requires some sweet talking to get out, but with a little elbow grease it’s not a problem. After that, I removed the factory tow hooks. From there, the included grille guard brackets were then mounted to the bottom of the frame and the tow hooks were remounted just beneath the grille guard brackets; sandwiching the brackets between the frame and tow hooks. All that is required for installation is a good set of sockets. With the brackets bolted to the frame on each side I then got my grille guard ready to be lifted into position. While you could have a few friends lift and hold your grille guard in position, I have an electronic cable hoist mounted in my shop and that was the perfect tool for the job. I was able to secure the grille guard to the hoist with a strap and lift, lower and swing it into the correct position. With the grille guard lined up, all that was required was to secure it to the brackets, previously installed, with the provided carriage bolts. At that point the installation is nearly complete. With the carriage bolts still a little loose, I then centered the grille guard from side to side until it was centered and also front to back, tweaking the angle at which it sat. Once pleased with the position, I tightened all of the carriage bolts down and the job was done. In total, I spent no more than 45 minutes – start to finish – and that includes getting my tools out and cleaning up when I was done.
The result? Well, you can see for yourself in the photos. I’m completely satisfied and pleased. The Ranch Hand Legend Series Grille Guard looks great on my truck…and it will also serve as a hefty warning to any oncoming pheasants :)
So, let’s get down to brass tacks. Many of you have asked if the investment of a grille guard is worth it? To answer that, you have to look at the purpose and function that they can possibly provide you with.
- Surface Protection:
Tall grass, thick brush, wheat and corn stubble, rocks and more are all expected elements in the backcountry. However, they are all notorious for leaving their mark on your vehicle as well. Scrapes, paint damage, and grille damage can be thwarted by a grille guard as it acts as a buffer between your vehicle and the oncoming vegetation in front of you.
- Front End Protection:
The installation of a grille guard has the potential to protect your front-end bumper, lights, grill and trim from low impact, and low speed collisions. So, if you roll into that light pole in the grocery store parking lot, if someone backs into your vehicle at church, if you are navigating the backwoods and happen to kiss a tree or rock, or if you meet up with an unexpected fence post – you’ll have modest protection that, in reasonable circumstances, can safeguard the front end of your vehicle.
- Wildlife Protection:
Aside from vehicle-on-vehicle collisions or vehicle-on-structure collisions, a grille guard also has the capacity to protect you in vehicle-on-animal collisions. Based on studies done by people far smarter than myself, it has been shown that grille guards can prevent major structural damage to your vehicle in the event of a collision with an animal. The degree of protection it can provide is, of course, dependent upon how fast you’re traveling and how big of an animal you encounter. As hunters, this is a very real scenario for us. If I had a dollar for every time an animal has dodged right in front of my vehicle (or a pheasant), well, I’d be able to buy several grille guards. In no way am I saying that a grille guard makes your vehicle invincible, however it has the capacity to give you, your passengers and your rig, protection.
Let’s be honest. It doesn’t hurt the cause that grille guards also look good. It’s like jewelry for your rig, it’s shiny and makes your vehicle look a little tougher, too. :)
- Peace of Mind
When it comes right down to it, the most important part of a vehicle is the passengers it is carrying. My truck is tasked with safely delivering my wife, kids, dogs and myself from Point A to Point B every time we pull out of the driveway. When it comes to safety, seatbelts and airbags come standard in a vehicle, but, if you could add another layer of protection to your vehicle, would you want to? For me, the answer is, overwhelmingly, “Yes”. My family is the most important thing in my life and their safety is certainly worth the investment in a grille guard.
I’m a believer in customizing, personalizing, and modifying your vehicle to meet your personal needs and for any outdoorsman or woman, I am also a firm believer that a Ranch Hand grille guard is an exceptional addition.
Hugs, Handshakes, and Safe Driving.