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When heading out on an upland hunting trip with bird dogs, it’s crucial to be well-prepared and have all the necessary equipment and supplies. If you are like me, no matter how many times I’ve made the trips, I leave something behind. So, here’s an extensive packing list for an upland bird hunter and their bird dogs:
Upland Hunting Gear
- Shotgun(s): Choose a reliable shotgun suitable for upland game. It is nice to have more than one shotgun with you in case one breaks and for different upland birds and hunting situations, like woods and prairies.
- Ammunition: Carry an adequate supply of ammunition of different loads. Be sure to check for shot restrictions for the birds and areas you will be hunting.
- Choke Tubes: Have a selection of choke tubes for different upland hunting situations.
- Upland Hunting Vest: Opt for a comfortable, lightweight vest with large front pockets for carrying shells, bird tags, and other essentials and a large game pocket.
- Blaze Orange Hat and/or Vest: Check local hunting regulations for required blaze orange requirements.
- Shooting Glasses: Protect your eyes from debris and enhance visibility in different lighting conditions.
- Ear Protection: Use earplugs or earmuffs to protect your hearing.
Bird Dogs Supplies
- Dog Crate(s): Secure crates for safely transporting and housing your bird dogs.
- Dog Collar(s) and Leads: Have sturdy collars with identification tags and a leash for control in the field. I always keep an extra in my vest/jacket to lead my dogs out of a hunting area when approaching a road.
- Water and Food Bowls: Carry collapsible bowls for providing water and food to your dogs.
- Dog Bed, Towels, Blankets, or Bedding: Keep your dogs comfortable during downtime. Depending on your setup and situation, you likely will need to dry your dog off. If you use boxes or a dog trailer, straw is so lovely and dries and cleans them off. If the dog is kept inside the vehicle or in an RV or rental property, you’ll need many towels and a comfortable dog bed or blanket.
- Dog First Aid Kit: Include bandages, antiseptic, tweezers, pliers, or hemostats for porcupine quilts, and other essentials for dog emergencies.
- Dog Boots or a protectant suave: Protect your dogs’ paws from rough terrain, burrs, and thorns. Especially if it is terrain your dog is not used to, his or her feet will get very sore very quickly. Protect those feet!
- Dog Whistles, Bells, etc.: If you’ve trained to the whistle, make sure not to forget to pack one and at least one backup. A few bells so you can hear where your dog is.
- Training Collar: Don’t forget your bird dog’s training collar, charger, remote, etc. Ensure you have updated the collar and remote if your brand provides updated firmware.
- GPS Tracking Collar: An absolute essential for bird dogs. Make sure you pack the chargers, remotes, etc., and as above, updated maps and firmware before you leave.
- Vaccination Records: Keep a copy of your dog’s vaccination records with you–both a physical copy and a photo of them on your phone.
- Photos of your dog(s): Keep recent photos of your dogs on your phone in case they get lost. I also recommend making up a “lost dog” sign that includes the photo, contact information, etc. Even go so far as to make up physical copies of the signs and push pins or tacks that you can quickly put up in local shops, gas stations, diners, etc. if you lose a dog. This can save precious time. At least make one, convert it to a PDF, and keep it on your phone and you’ll have to find a local service to print them for you.
Clothing for an Upland Hunting Trip
- Hunting Jacket: Choose a durable and weather-resistant jacket with ample pockets.
- Hunting Pants: Opt for sturdy, breathable pants with reinforced knees.
- Layered Clothing: Pack moisture-wicking base layers, insulating mid-layers, and weatherproof outer layers.
- Rain Gear: Essential to keep dry for rainy days and morning hunts when the dew will have you very wet in no time.
- Hunting Boots: Invest in comfortable, waterproof boots suitable for walking all day.
- Socks: Bring several moisture-wicking socks to keep your feet dry and prevent blisters.
- Hats: Carry a brimmed hat for sun and eye protection, and a beanie for the cold days.
- Gloves: Choose gloves that provide warmth without hindering dexterity and protect your hands and fingers.
- Gaiters and/or Chaps: Protect your thighs and legs from thorns, burrs, and snakes.
Field and Upland Hunting Accessories
- Game Bag: Choose a game bag with ample storage capacity for carrying harvested birds.
- Hunting Knife: Carry a sharp, reliable knife for field dressing and cleaning game.
- GPS or Compass: Aid in navigation and mark important locations.
- Whistle: Use for communication or locating lost hunting partners.
- Water Bottles or Hydration System: To keep you and your dog hydrated throughout the hunt.
- Snacks: Pack lightweight, energy-rich snacks for quick refueling.
- Maps: Even if you have maps on your phone and GPS device, it is a very good idea to have physical maps, too.
- Camera/Video Equipment: Capture memories of your upland hunting experience rather it is with your phone, Go Pro, etc.
- Ziploc Bags: Store and preserve feathers, meat, or other items.
- Multi-tool: Carry a versatile tool for various small tasks.
- Tent: Provide shelter during overnight trips.
- Sleeping Bag and Sleeping Pad: Ensure a comfortable night’s sleep.
- Camp Stove and Cookware: Prepare meals and boil water.
- Food and Water: Carry sufficient food supplies and water for the duration of your trip.
- Camping Chair: Relax around the campfire.
- Headlamp or Flashlight: Aid in nighttime tasks and navigate in the dark.
- Personal Items: Include toiletries, sunscreen, insect repellent, and any necessary medications.
- Disposable Gloves: So nice for cleaning game.
- Bird Cleaning Kit: Include tools like shears, pliers, and a bird cleaning board.
- Bird Bag: Use a breathable bag to transport harvested birds.
- Cooler: Keep harvested birds cool and fresh.
- Trash Bags: Dispose of waste responsibly.
- Field Wipes or Towels: Clean your hands and equipment in the field.
- Biodegradable Soap: Use for cleaning purposes while camping.
- Water and Food for Dogs: Carry enough water (from home if possible to help avoid upsetting their system) and dog food for the duration of the trip.
- Dog Treats: Keep their favorite treats with you.
- Dog Brush: Keep your dogs’ coats clean and free from burrs or debris. You’ll be brushing them every night.
- Tick Remover: Check and remove ticks from your dogs.
- Dog Medications: Carry any necessary medications for your dogs.
- Portable Dog Water Bowl: Provide water for your dogs while on the move. Collapsable bowls are excellent for carrying in your vest or jacket.
- Cooling Vest or Mat: Help your dogs stay cool during hot weather.
Communication and Safety:
- Mobile Phone or Two-Way Radio: Stay in touch with your hunting partners or emergency services. Share your location via an app on your phone with at least one other person.
- Emergency Whistle or Signal Mirror: Use in case of emergencies.
- First Aid Kit: Include basic medical supplies for treating minor injuries.
- Personal Locator Beacon (PLB): Carry for emergencies and to alert authorities of your location.
- Fire Starters: Pack waterproof matches, lighters, or fire starters for warmth or signaling.
- Compass or GPS Navigation Device: Ensure you can navigate unfamiliar terrain accurately.
- Emergency Blanket: Provide warmth and shelter in case of emergencies.
- Multi-day Backpack: If embarking on an extended hunting trip, pack a backpack with the necessary supplies.
No matter where you pursue upland birds, you will likely get stuck some day. Having some basic recovery gear along can make a difference. Even 4-wheel drive trucks can get stuck in sand, mud, etc. and we’ve all gotten a flat tire in places AAA can’t get to or at least get to quickly.
- Full spare tire
- Portable Air Compressor
- Tire Repair Kit (tire plugs and tools)
- Tow Rope, Kinetic Strap
- Traction Boards: In many locations, such as the prairies, there may not be a tree conveniently located next to where you are stuck, nor another truck to pull you out. Traction boards are a must.
- Winch: There are many affordable and portable options available today.
- Chainsaw: Do you find yourself on a narrow track with no room to turn around and a tree down in front of you? I’ve had this happen so many times. Backing up for a very long way was the only other option. Having even a small chainsaw can save the day. A chainsaw might be overkill, so at the very least, have an axe.
- Field Journal and Pen: Document memorable moments and observations.
- Spare Batteries: Carry extra batteries for electronic devices and equipment.
- Portable Power Packs (solar, ac, dc) or: For charging phones, e-collars, remotes, cameras, GoPros, etc.
- Duct Tape: A versatile tool for repairs, improvisations, and even first-aid for you and your dogs.
- Zip Ties: Use for securing gear or attaching items to your vest or backpack as well as attaching bells to collars, and so much more.
- Paracord: A multi-purpose cordage for various needs.
- Boot Dryers: It is so nice to dry your boots at night so you keep your feet dry and healthy the whole trip. If camping, however, take some newspaper along. You can bunch it up and stuff it in your boots overnight. Check with your boot manufacturer for recommendations. For instance, for my leather-lined Chaussers, boot dryers are not recommended and newspaper is.
Remember to adapt the packing list based on the specific requirements of your hunting trip, including the duration, location, weather conditions, and hunting regulations. Stay organized, pack efficiently, and prioritize safety and comfort for both yourself and your bird dogs.