Like it or not, if you live an outdoor lifestyle, you have a certain appreciation for a well designed offroad vehicle.
When I first saw this 1992 Ford F150, designed and built by OGRE in Pisgah Forest, I fell in love. Now, I’m a Toyota guy through and through, but I’m also a fishing guy, and this is a fishing truck.
I recently met Jason Bowman, owner of OGRE, at a fly fishing tournament in Highlands, N.C. Turns out, we knew a lot of the same folks and he was a part of the Outdoor Gear Builders of WNC. After a couple drinks and talking about my failed first fishing tournament, he offered to take me and a buddy out in Pisgah to show us the ropes.
A couple weeks later, we swung by his shop for a Pisgah Trout Unlimited meeting and got to watch a couple films from the F3T tour. We shared some beers, watched some fishing, talked about kiosks, and of course, checked out this beautiful machine.
Custom Built From The Ground Up
After scouring Craigslist, Bowman found the old Ford just wasting away in Shelby, N.C. It was in rough shape, but the truck only had 60,000 miles on it. Once back at the shop, Jason and the team at OGRE got to work. After tearing it down to the frame, they sandblasted everything, then shipped the body off to Coachworks Auto Body for paint (They did a fantastic job). Then the OGRE team started to rebuild it, piece by piece.
“We build these trucks, and they’re badass, but what we really build them for is to test the outdoor equipment that we create.”
“F150s during those years have a TTB Suspension. It’s ok, but it’s not the best,” says Bowman. So they opted for Dana 60 front and rear axles. They’re a more heavy-duty solution from the Ford F350. Following the axles, they did a full coil spring conversion with custom built radius arms to keep the suspension soft but still offroad ready. The motor was replaced by a brand new 302 v8. The axles, transmission, and transfer case were all rebuilt in-house.
The front bumper and grill are one of the truck’s most prominent features. Known as an OBS (original body style), it is one of a kind. The design of the truck is based on Jason’s experience and knowledge of the outdoor industry, fly fishing in particular. This is the fourth fly fishing specific build they’ve done. Other notable builds include a ’00 Dodge Ram for David Grossman of Southern Culture on the Fly, and a ’72 Ford Bronco for Oliver White, a world-renowned fly fisherman.
“Is it overkill? Yeah, but it looks cool!”
This truck is really just a test vehicle to help fine tune their fly rod holders. “We build these trucks, and they’re badass, but what we really build them for is to test the outdoor equipment that we create,” says Bowman. The Fly Rod Rack, in particular, is one of his latest creations. During our brief time in the woods, he noticed several areas to improve on the design. In my opinion, it’s already very well done. Able to store four, twelve-foot rods, the whole thing locks up, keeping your rods safe. Drainage holes in the bottom let water escape the rod holder. The ease of access and organization of your gear is where it really shines.
Naturally, We Had To Go Fishing
We left the shop and headed out to the upper Davidson River, just north of the fish hatchery. Turns out, this was the first time Jason had taken the truck offroad. My little Tacoma, with its rusty leaf springs, was bouncing around in the rough and rutted roads. The F150 hardly moved. Every pothole and rut that was thrown its way barely shook the body. For anyone who’s driven up 475 from 276 in Pisgah, you know it’s not a smooth ride. We parked, set up the rods, and headed out into the woods.
This was my first time fishing the Davidson and man is this place beautiful. Bowman showed us the ropes, took us to some low-key spots, and got us hooked into a couple small fish (though I didn’t land any). On our way back home, just before dark, we stopped by the fish hatchery. Jason get’s down to the water, takes one cast, and hooks into a monster 20″ Rainbow Trout on a dry fly. Unfortunately, due to my poor filming skills, we have no proof. We all know how fisherman like to tell tales.
A Focus On Outdoor Recreation
Everything they build at OGRE is geared towards playing outside, not offroading. They work for the weekend warrior who mountain bikes, fly fishes, and kayaks. Whatever your pastime, they custom fabricate vehicle components catered to your needs. Their goal is to build practical gear for vehicles that helps maximize your time outside.
“Time is your most valuable asset out in the woods. If you’re driving out for the weekend, you don’t want to waste time digging through your vehicle to access your gear.”
The team at OGRE is currently working on a custom fabricated dog box for hunting dogs that features a mini HVAC system to keep your pups cool. The system runs on ice, which you add to a pullout tray. Fans circulate the air over the ice and around the box cooling it down. As the ice melts, it fills a tray at the bottom providing your dogs with water on the go. It’s an ingenious system. They get their first prototype back from the manufacturer any day now.
Bowman drew inspiration for the gear that he creates from his time in the military, “When I was in the Marine Corps, we had specific places to store our weapons and gear. When you’re out in the field and at war, you have to know where everything is at all times.”
Meet Jason Bowman of OGRE
A military veteran, Bowman served in the Marine Corps from ’92-’96 as a Hummer mechanic. This sparked his passion for working with vehicles. From there, he went to Denver, Colo. for school and apprenticed with Ford Motor Company. Bowman is from Southern Appalachia, starting OGRE in Virginia 16 years ago. He’s been making gear for outdoor recreation over the past five years and moved to Western North Carolina in 2015.
His love for the outdoors shines through his ethical business practices. 95% of the waste OGRE creates is recycled. In the cooler months, they even heat the shop with used motor oil.”This is the most gorgeous place in the world in my opinion,” says Bowman. “Nothing leaves my shop unless there is absolutely no way to recycle it.”
To learn more about OGRE, be sure to check out their website.