What's Your Beef? Are You Stuck Up?

Montana Grant

Few trucks or cars are without a bumper sticker. Some rides are completely covered. Some rigs sport only a couple. Too many bumper stickers are tacky. Bumper stickers display our right and freedom of expression. Finding a sweet spot that is entertaining without being insulting is a challenge. 

Hunters and fishermen are very consistent with their sporting bumper sticker themes. They relate to size, weapons, booze, and freedom! Their statements often border on rude, insulting, or distasteful. A swinging pair of bull testicles is often hanging off the truck hitch with a dead critter in the back bed, and naked girl mud flaps with matching nasty bumper stickers. Oh Well. Having a sense of humor is important when interpreting bumper stickers and visual statements. 

Most sporting rigs carry an NRA sticker. One of my friends got pulled over for driving a few miles over the limit. The cop was a hunter and noticed his NRA sticker immediately. A conversation began about hunting, and not the ticket. After a few minutes of hunter banter, the cop said, “slow down and good luck this hunting season!”

Yuppies and millennials have rides that usually carry the family stick people cartoons or something about their personal agendas. Political stickers can create Road Rage. Free pot, help pets, lives that matter, religion, peace, or other symbols abound. Many support this group or that themes. Save the Whales!, free the somethings, hug the trees, change the climate, or my kid is an honor student at the local school.

Bumper stickers tell others about who we are and what we believe. Religion is often reflected by bountiful stickers. “God is my Co-Pilot.” Crosses, church symbols and popular beliefs are displayed. When we see them riding down the road, they make us start discussions or make comments. Debates are fine, but we must always keep them civil. This is especially true when kids are in the car. 

Most stickers end up on the rear bumper. If other drivers are paying attention to your rear, then that’s a good thing. “If you can read this then you are driving too close!” When the car behind you passes, you may get a signal that they read your bumper stickers. Maybe you get a thumbs up, a wave, a smile or the finger. Thank you for reading!

Tourists display stickers from every state that they have visited. Windows will be covered with Wall Drug, Yellowstone Park, and visuals of where they have been, and “Make it to Montana or Bust!” stickers. If they don’t have a ride, then a t-shirt or hat will take the place of a bumper sticker. 

Some rides are very specific about where the stickers are placed. Other folks cover the windows and fenders or tailgate. Try to keep the stickers displayed horizontally. Stickers near the front will get more weather and windblown. Stickers in the back are more protected. Remember not to block the view from your rear-view mirrors. 

Care and maintenance of your stickers are important. Coat the new stickers with some car wax to help protect them from the sun and elements. Car washes can destroy your carefully placed statements. Magnet attached stickers will get swept away with rotating brushes. To remove old stickers, use a decent cleaner and a sponge. Razor blades work well on metal, but vinyl bumpers need more care. Don’t apply a new sticker onto a dirty surface or surface with old sticker residue.

Hikers and tree huggers apply club decals or anti-gun/ hunting sentiments. Vehicles are personal property and you can surely apply what you want but… I remember a show called “The Dukes of Hazzard”. The characters drove the General Lee hot rod into the deepest and darkest part of a southern town. Their car sported a huge confederate flag on the roof. The locals spotted the flag and immediately ganged up on the Duke Boys. Display what you want, but you may need to defend your opinion.

Bumper stickers are labels and targets. They stick out and draw attention. Know this before you get drawn into a sticky situation. Not everyone is respectful. If you think your bumper sticker statement is too distasteful, outrageous, or politically incorrect, you are probably right. Don’t get mad because someone else vandalizes your ride or bumper sticker attitude. Place the more raucous stickers on your garage refrigerator, or a more secure and private location. 

Sports teams and events offer a wide selection of bumper sticker choices. “Cats Kick it and Griz Lick it! Go Cats/Griz!” Montana does not have a local NFL or national baseball team, so a large choice of teams will be represented. Seahawks, Steelers, Patriots, and Ravens are represented and tell others where you are probably from. 

Making your ride unique is important. Many of us can locate our rides in a crowded lot by looking for our labels. Back in the day, folks would put a fake banana or fruit on their antennae. Most rides today do not have exterior antennas. 

Marking our territory is important. We are proud of who we are and what we believe. It is a way we take ownership of our property. Others may not like the message but must respect it. Many of us Honk if you like this or that. Others wave to folks with similar themes. Holiday add-ons, like wreaths, antlers, and Santa grill guards make us smile and enjoy the season.  It is okay to say who we are and what we like or dislike. 

Sometimes, you may need to explain your messages.   

This was made by

Montana Grant

Montana Grant is a retired Educator, Consultant, Naturalist, Guide, and freelance writer, he spends much of his time sharing and teaching about the great outdoors. For more Montana Grant, visit his blog at www.montanagrantfishing.com.

View more of Montana Grant's work »