Upland hunting is great. Hunters get to watch the leaves change, then fall, feel the cool of an autumn breeze, and spend time with their favorite hunting partners (both two and four legged.) It’s hard to imagine improving upon this wonderful rite of fall, isn’t it. Well, we’ve figured out some ways to make it even better. These seven pieces of gear will leave you wondering how you ever went bird hunting without them.
Brush Pants or Chaps
Anyone who’s ever waded through a grouse covert without the aid of a good pair of brush pants or chaps will tell you that these seemingly optional items are anything but optional. Multi-floral rose bushes, thornapple trees, and prickly pear cacti are waiting to make their mark on upland hunters and leave them looking like they’ve been fighting wildcats. Wearing a quality pair of brush pants or chaps will result in less physical pain and more birds in the bag.
Early season often comes with hot weather, but you still need a place to store shells, water for you and your dog, and, of course, any birds you might be lucky enough to bring down. This is where a shooting vest excels. A shooting vest provides storage for everything you need to take afield on an early season hunt, blaze orange adds a level of safety by letting fellow hunters constantly monitor your position, and a shooting vest won’t leave drowning in your own perspiration.
It’s been said that upland hunters kill their game with two things: their shotguns and their feet. It only makes sense that you’d do your best to baby both of these important aspects of the hunt. Grouse hunters wading through dense thickets to reach a pointing dog or attempting to flush grouse on their own need a boot that is supportive, tough, and breathable all at the same time. Hunters hitting the wide open west in pursuit of sage grouse or chukar might want to choose a lighter option better suited for traversing miles of open terrain. Whatever your gamebird of choice, cater your footwear to the style of hunt you will be embarking on. Your feet will thank you.
High Quality Socks
This goes right along with your choice in boots, but quality socks will help your feet feel great at the end of the day. Choose socks made of wool or synthetic fabric that will wick moisture while retaining heat. Make your feet happier by wearing thicker socks in colder weather and thinner socks when the weather is warm.
A shooting shirt is not necessary to go upland hunting, but it sure does improve the experience. A shooting shirt offers freedom of movement when you’re swinging on a fast crossing bird. It also offers a padded shoulder for those days of high volume dove shooting or a round of sporting clays prior to your hunt. Once you’ve hunted in a good shooting shirt, you’ll never want to hit the field without it.
Shooting gloves offer protection from thorns and briars, as well as an improved grip on your shotgun. They keep the chill off you trigger finger when the cool autumn breezes blow. Pick up a pair of shooting gloves and give them a try this season. You’ll be glad you did.
The Right Load
Using the right ammunition can be the difference between a miss and a clean kill while hunting upland birds. There is no one size fits all load for upland hunting and hunters should cater their choice in ammunition to the birds they are hunting. For example, roughed grouse are quick flyers, but don’t require much killing if your shot connects. Choose number 7 1/2 shot and put more grouse in the gamebag. Pheasants on the other hand, particularly wild pheasants, are big, tough birds and hunters looking to bring them down should choose a more powerful load.
If you’re not using them already, give these pieces of upland gear a try and discover how good an upland hunt can be.