WOODS TRANSPORTATION: THE DO-IT-YOURSELF ELECTRIC BUGGY

On my first hunting trip to South Texas with my brother, Joey Holmes, a few years ago, I was surprised to see him load a golf cart on his trailer before we left Pearland. I asked if he planned to get in a few holes while we were in the South Texas brush, but he surprised me even more by saying the gas EZ-GO was his deer lease vehicle! Over the course of that weekend, I had to agree that it was a very handy little buggy. Of course, we didn’t have any mud on that trip, but the cart did a great job of hauling three hunters and their gear around the lease roads, bringing deer in for butchering, and hauling off guts and carcasses. Even more interesting was the fact that my brother kept saying he wished he had an electric cart, for it’s silent operation.

Before the end of that season, I traded a Catahoula puppy and some “boot” for an electric EZ-GO cart of 1997 vintage. It had a lift kit and oversized tires, but on our initial trial in the woods, the controller fried. Taking it home to Oyster Creek, I started shopping for components, eventually replacing the controller, Forward/Reverse switch, solenoid, and all the cables – all with heavy duty components – and a new high torque motor. What I ended up with was an electric buggy that pulls strong, goes great in mud, climbs very well, and is quiet. It has been an essential tool for me on my property outside of Brazoria, for both work and play. When it began giving me problems shortly before the start of deer season in 2012, I was lost! Not having the buggy forced me to WALK down to my stand, limiting the equipment I could carry, and required me to use my tractor to move anything of size or weight.

A modified electric golf cart can be a very effective woods buggy.

A modified electric golf cart can be a very effective woods buggy.

A hopped up electric cart has the power to be a real workhorse. I have used mine to haul feeders and stand back into the woods, as well as deer and hogs out.

A hopped up electric cart has the power to be a real workhorse. I have used mine to haul feeders and stands back into the woods, as well as deer and hogs out.

A receiver hitch "packer" will hold a good weight of hog , and using a limb and strong rope, he can be hung from a tree with the buggy pulling against it for butchering.

A receiver hitch “packer” will hold a good weight of hog , and using a limb and strong rope, he can be hung from a tree with the buggy pulling against it for butchering.

A good limb and the buggy will hang a big hog for butchering.

A good limb and the buggy will hang a big hog for butchering.

This round of repairs – the first really since my initial rebuild – required a new controller, and I had just replaced the Forward/Reverse switch again. I also took the plunge and replaced the batteries and the battery tray. The batteries in it when I took possession were old already, yet gave me 5 years of service. The new batteries – 125 amp hour units – really added power and greatly increased the range between charges. I had also replaced the winky-dink shifer that comes as a stock unit on older EZ-Go carts – newer 48 volt carts generally use a rocker switch for electric shifting – with a after-market shifter from Jakes Carts that bolts on where the old flipper switch mounts and connects to the stock linkage, but looks like a hot rod floor shift from 60’s and 70’s automotive hot rods. To me, it is a much more comfortable shift that having to blindly grope for the stock lever, which had very limited leveraging power. Also, I think it looks really sweet! Of course, I have also added necessities like a floor mounted gun rack, front gear tray, 12V winch (hooked to a separate 12V battery under the seat, camo seat covers, a homemade camp paint job, lights, and a new set of tires of 8″ offset rims on the back to replace the bigger tires that developed cracks from dry rot.If I do any further upgrades, one of the folding back seats that goes flat to make a cargo area would be high on the list, maybe even larger wheels and tires?

While there is not much chance of "sticking" the buggy in mud, this 12V winch will help get it out should that happen. I've used it to pull a heavy trailer that was down to the axle out of a hole, and to pull hogs over a limb for skinning. It has it's own dedicated 12V battery, rather than pulling off the cart batteries.

While there is not much chance of “sticking” the buggy in mud, this 12V winch will help get it out should that happen. I’ve used it to pull a heavy trailer that was down to the axle out of a hole, and to pull hogs over a limb for skinning. It has it’s own dedicated 12V battery, rather than pulling off the cart batteries.

This "floor shift" from Jakes replaces the flipper shift lever that is stock on older carts. It provides for more secure shifting, and adds to the looks of the cart as well.

This “floor shift” from Jakes replaces the flipper shift lever that is stock on older carts. It provides for more secure shifting, and adds to the looks of the cart as well.

New batteries are not cheap, but improve power, reliability, and increase range between charges.

New batteries are not cheap, but improve power, reliability, and increase range between charges.

While a modified golf cart is not as tough or powerful as an electric 4WD like a Stealth or Bad Boy buggy, it is much cheaper to “build” your own, and the stock cart – especially with a stronger motor and larger tires – goes through mud like it wasn’t there. A Stealth dealer told me that unless you needed to climb steep grades in rocky country, their 2WD does about anything the 4WD version can do. I had a camo enclosure on it for the first couple of years, and with the sides down and zipped closed and a propane catalytic “golf cart” heater running, it stayed warm and cozy in cold weather.

Soft mud with a "bottom" is no big problem for a lifted buggy with maybe a little extra power.

Soft mud with a “bottom” is no big problem for a lifted buggy with maybe a little extra power.

Deer season is winding down, but my electric buggy will stay busy doing “chores” on my properties in Brazoria and at home in Oyster Creek, as well as for hog and predator hunting. I may even haul it to the beach for some surf fishing expeditions

About MikeH

Texas hunter and fisherman for 50 years, published outdoor writer since 1979, licensed charter boat operator from 1982 to 2013. Past Member, Board of Directors, National Association of Charterboat Operators, current member Environmental Advisory Committee to the DOE and the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Married to Dorothy since 2000, one son, Michael who is recently married and living in Nederland, Texas. My wife and I live in Oyster Creek, Texas, near Freeport, and have a hunting property outside of Brazoria, Texas.
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One Response to WOODS TRANSPORTATION: THE DO-IT-YOURSELF ELECTRIC BUGGY

  1. Frank Truax says:

    Now that is a great buggy, thanks for posting this, I am looking for one!

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