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Winners of 2017 Companions for Conservation

Companions For Conservation

SportDOG® Brand, the industry-leading manufacturer of electronic dog training products and accessories, has announced the winners of its fourth annual Companions for Conservation contest.

Earlier this year, SportDOG called for families with children between the ages of 10 and 18, who have an interest in hunting and conservation, to submit a dog training, youth-education project, hunting, or wildlife-habitat related photo via social media or online web form, after which, 9 finalists were chosen to have their images voted on by the public. In order to be eligible, the applicants must also be members of a conservation organization.

Below are the 2017 winners!

Grand Prize
Megan Halstead (13) from Idaho, will receive “Marco” a started black Labrador retriever, trained by SportDOG Senior ProStaff member Chris Akin of Webb Footed Kennel, a 2-day, all-expenses paid duck-hunting trip for 2 at Red Legs Lodge in Arkansas, and a SportDOG gear package. With her photo submission, Megan said, “I would love to have another Labrador retriever because my last dog Tank, who passed away just a few weeks ago, was my very best friend. Winning Marco would mean I’d have another loyal hunting partner to learn and grow with.” Megan and her dad Jeremy are members of Ducks Unlimited.

2nd Prize
Gage Sefton (12) from Indiana will take home a prize package including a 1-year membership to Ducks Unlimited and SportDOG gear.

3rd Prize
Railey Williams (14) from Arkansas is the winner of a Delta Waterfowl prize package, including a 1-year membership and SportDOG gear.

For more information about our conservation initiative, visit http://www.sportdog.com/companions-for- conservation.

SportDOG Kicks Off Companions for Conservation Contest

SportDOG® Brand, the industry-leading manufacturer of electronic dog-training products and accessories, has announced the continuation of its Companions for Conservation contest, a part of their Conservation Fund initiative. The social-media based contest will result in 3 lucky youth hunters winning prize packages with items related to hunting, conservation, and dog training.

Companions for Conservation Grand Prize

Grand Prize
• Started black Labrador retriever, trained by SportDOG Senior ProStaff member Chris Akin of Webb Footed Kennel
• All-expenses paid 2-day duck hunting trip for the youth hunter and their guardian at Red Legs Lodge in Arkansas
• SportDOG gear package including a remote trainer, whistles, check cords, dummies, and apparel

Companions for Conservation 2nd Prize
2nd Prize
• 1-Year Membership to Ducks Unlimited
• Ducks Unlimited Blades Camo Truck Seat Organizer and Blind Bag
• Mossy Oak® Dog Bed
• Ducks Unlimited Hat
• SportDOG Handler Bag and Gun Sleeve
• SportDOG T-Shirt and Hat

Companions for Conservation 3rd Prize
3rd Prize
• 1-Year Membership to Delta Waterfowl
• Rig ‘Em Right™ Gun Case with Delta Waterfowl logo
• Delta Waterfowl Cooler, Thermos, and Hat
• Delta Waterfowl “North American Waterfowl Identification Guide”
• SportDOG T-Shirt and Hat


How To Enter
The contest kicks off at 11am on June 1st, 2017 and is open to legal residents of the United States who have reached the age of majority (18) at the time of entry. To be eligible, you must be a parent or guardian of a child that’s age 10 – 18 and who’s also interested in hunting and conservation. You must also be a current member of a conservation group, and meet the other eligibility requirements found in the Official Contest Rules. Entry is limited to 1 photo submission per person.

To enter, submit an original dog-training, youth-education project, hunting, or wildlife-habitat related photo by using one of the options below:

• Enter through the SportDOG Facebook page on the “#C4C2017 Contest” tab
• Post 1 image on Twitter and include the following in your post: #C4C2017, @SportDOGBrand, and the name of the conservation group to which you belong
• Post 1 image on Instagram and include the following in your post: #C4C2017, @SportDOGBrand, and the name of the conservation group to which you belong
• Enter through the SportDOG website

The entry period will run from 11am EST on June 1st to 11am EST on June 22nd. A panel of judges will then choose 9 finalists, after which, a month-long public voting period for the grand prize winners will take place on the SportDOG website. The 3 lucky winners with the most votes will be announced on August 7th via the SportDOG social media accounts.

Open Letter to Governor John Kasich

Ohio Division of Wildlife

Governor Kasich:

Ohio’s wildlife and wild spaces are no place for power-brokering or politics.

Despite over 30 conservation and sporting organizations and five retired Ohio Division of Wildlife chiefs calling for modest price increases in Ohio hunting and fishing licenses, the Ohio Division of Natural Resources Director James Zehringer, Assistant Directors Fred Shemp and Gary Obermiller resist the call to action to properly fund Ohio’s wild places. They are doing you and the citizens of this state a disservice.

The majority of Ohio outdoorsmen and women recognize that 14 years without a license increase makes little sense in the face of rising costs. They are willing to shoulder more of a burden, actually many are happy to, if it insures the future of Ohio’s great outdoors, resources and beauty.

Director Zehringer’s actions defy logic. When sportsmen call to increase fees on themselves and the ODNR response is “we don’t want your money, we don’t care if you believe wildlife is being underfunded,” it makes one question the true motives. I suspect if you were to ask the biologists at the Ohio Division of Wildlife (ODOW) if they could use funds generated by a license increase to provide better programs, education, enforcement, access and help fill 25 open field officer positions their answer might be a bit different.

Fisherman and hunters wholly fund the Division of Wildlife. It is a self-sustaining model of which we are proud. We don’t need bureaucrats telling us when outdoor opportunities, habitat, wildlife protection and enforcement are lacking. As stewards of the outdoors, we supply that feedback directly to the folks charged with the task, the ones we pay to do the job. We don’t need our voices filtered through the Ohio Division of Natural Resources’ competing interests of oil and gas, mining, agriculture and lobbyists.

The Division of Wildlife should be a cabinet level position advocating Ohio’s wildlife and wild places and should not be muzzled by appointees who are not sportsmen, biologists or naturalists. Current Ohio Division of Wildlife Chief Ray Petering, holding a Bachelor of Science Degree in Fisheries Management from The Ohio State University as well as a Master of Science Degree in Fisheries Biology from the University of Georgia, should be reporting directly to you Governor Kasich.

Decreased participation has been repeatedly cited by both Zehringer and Obermiller as the counter to any resident license increase. But the main driver of participation is opportunity and education. Look at states where outdoor activities and opportunity abound supported by state recruitment and retention programs. Minnesota comes to mind with a solid 34% of their populace purchasing hunting and fishing licenses, compared to just 6.5% of Ohioans. Minnesota has a walk-in access program that opens 23,500 acres of private land at over 200 locations to hunters and 1.29 million acres of state owned land at 1,440 areas enrolled as Wildlife Management Areas. 16.1% of the state of Minnesota is open to public hunting versus just 2.5% of the state for Ohio. Coincidentally, Minnesota’s resident small game license is $22 – just $3 more than Ohio’s and exactly the increase that the coalition of conservation and sporting groups is advocating for Ohio.

Governor, unlike your appointed advisor, Zehringer, I won’t go beyond my depth to advise. But let me tell you what makes sense for Ohio’s bird hunters as someone who travels over 35,000 miles annually in this country hunting dozens of states 100 days a year:

• Increase the resident hunting license by $7 (just .50¢ per year for the 14 years with no increase).

• No increase to senior (65 and over) or youth (16 and under) licenses.

• Tie all license fees to inflation so that we never need to have this ridiculous discussion again – numerous other states have done this and it takes politics out of future funding decisions.

• Create a state upland bird stamp that covers the cost of the pheasant stocking program. Ohio releases 25,000 pen-raised birds costing the state at least $300,000 annually. The upland stamp should cover the cost of this program plus 100% which would be used as dedicated funds for habitat improvements for game birds on state lands. Ohio should not be in the game farm business unless it benefits a greater mission, plain and simple.

• Mandatory habitat stamp of $10 required for anyone accessing Ohio public lands or waters and all non-resident hunters. Proceeds would be dedicated to expanding access and opportunity with purchase of additional state lands and a private land access program which would strengthen cooperation between landowners, hunters and the Ohio Division of Wildlife.

Assistant Director Obermiller also seems concerned with morale under the current structure. Obermiller stated at a recent public event the Natural Resources Department and the Wildlife Division have “always had morale problems.” When experts and specialists in a field are placed beneath layers of burdensome, unqualified bureaucracy and management the obvious result is discontent.

Release the Ohio Division of Wildlife to report to those who employ them, the hunters and fishers of this state. Morale will soar as well as engagement. Task ODOW with fostering and growing Ohio’s outdoor community and hold them to it. They will deliver with cooperation from sportsmen once you untie their hands.

Brian Koch
Editor, Ultimate Upland

James Zehringer

Contact Director Zehringer to share your concerns:







Assistant Director Gary Obermiller


Contact Asst. Director Obermiller:







The Sportmen’s Alliance has done a great job unifying the voices of Ohio outdoorsmen. Use their legislative action tool to contact your state senator. Click here.

Bellville Elementary is Public Lands Proud

Ida at the podium

The halls and classrooms of Bellville Elementary flirted with the wild side with a visit from the latest addition to the Ultimate Upland Team, Ida. The nine-week-old chocolate lab puppy attended school to share the importance of socialization and enriched environments for brain development.

Brian Koch, founder of Ultimate Upland, also had the opportunity to talk to students about exploring public lands in the U.S. “Sharing this little bird dog puppy gives kids a different perspective about the ability to learn and soak up new information. And we’re always happy to talk about the wild places across this country that offer exploration beyond what many children can believe. These lands are an invaluable resource and we want to get kids engaged and invested in their future,” Koch said.

Stetson Wendling was the student who chaperoned Ida’s visit and helped introduce her to 345 new friends from grades one through five. For each of these new friends made on this day $1 will be donated by Ultimate Upland to the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP) as part of the ongoing #meetida campaign.

Ida and Koch will be crossing the country, making friends and sharing stories. If you’d like to take part in preservation of public lands, click the link below to sign the petition and learn more. And be sure to follow Ultimate Upland on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for all the latest updates.

SportDOG Brand & Mud River Sweepstakes

Puppy Rio Giveaway
SportDOG Brand® partners with Mud River on a giveaway that includes everything needed to get started training your dog. Spring is just around the corner and bored bird dogs need to get back to work. 

Enter to win a SportDOG Brand® FieldTrainer® 425 E-Collar, Mud River Handler Bag, Oasis Bowl, Quick Quack Bowl, Lead, Cache Cushion, Magnum Hoss Food Bag, and Hatch Leash by entering your name and email address. One random winner will be chosen on February 28th, 2017 at 9am EST. Click here to get entered today.

SportDOG Brand Giveaway

SportDOG® HoundHunter

Start the new year off right by entering to win a SportDOG® Brand HoundHunter® 3225 prize package! Products included are: (1) HoundHunter 3225 E-Collar, (1) Handler Bag, (1) Red Locator Beacon, and (1) Wax Brown Hat. Entry is simple; visit sportdog.com/giveaway and enter your name and email address. One random winner will be chosen on January 31, 2017, at 9:00am EST.

*Total retail value over $350.

Winners of 2016 Companions for Conservation Contest

Knoxville, Tennessee (August 4, 2016) – SportDOG® Brand, the industry-leading manufacturer of electronic dog training products and accessories, has announced the winners of its third annual Companions for Conservation contest. Three lucky young hunters will soon be taking ownership of started Labrador retrievers, trained SportDOG Brand® Senior ProStaff members Tom Dokken, Derek Randle, and Chris Akin.

Earlier this year, SportDOG called for families with children between the age of 8 and 18, who have an interest in hunting and conservation to submit a dog training, youth-education project, hunting, or wildlife-habitat related photo via social media or online web form. In order to be eligible, the applicants must also be members of a conservation organization.

Dokken, Randle, and Akin will provide training through the started stage for the three prize dogs, which are a black Lab, yellow Lab, and chocolate Lab, respectively – valued at $5,000 each.

11-year-old Weston Jowett from Frankfort, Michigan, will be the proud owner of the black Lab, trained by Tom Dokken. Weston is a Ducks Unlimited Legacy Greenwing.

Weston Jowett and Black Lab

Haley Singleton will welcome home a yellow Lab trained by Derek Randle. 8-year-old Haley, a Ducks Unlimited member, is from Conyers, Georgia.

Haley Singleton and Yellow Lab

Cy Young from Mountain View, Missouri, will soon enjoy hunting with a chocolate Lab, trained by Chris Akin. Cy is 12 years old, and a member of Delta Waterfowl – Riceland chapter.

Cy Young and Chocolate Lab

For more information about our conservation initiative, visit http://www.sportdog.com/companions-for- conservation.

2015 Gift Guide for Bird Hunters

‘Tis the giving season once again. It has been another solid year of putting outdoor gear to the test. Contributors Kali Parmley and Britney Starr add their wishes to this year’s list for outfitting the bird hunters in your life.



Having dogs share the load can save a lot of leg on a pack-in to upland camp. Ruffwear builds hard core active-dog gear. The Ruffwear Approach Dog Backpack ($60) has all the right adjustment points, fits close to the dog’s body and distributes loads evenly. It took a little time for Rio the setter to learn her new dimensions while carrying her food and first aid kit, but soon she was scurrying uphill without losing a step. When the Bivy Bowl ($23) is collapsed flat it takes up almost no space in the backpack yet when expanded it still has the rigid sidewalls to which my dogs are accustomed. This is a perfect holiday combo for your camping bird dog and we even used the Approach with light loads to help build strength and endurance leading up to the hunting season.

Garmin VIRB

To list all the features of this duo in a gift guide is daunting. Garmin used to be known simply for preventing hunters from getting lost.  But it seems they are doubling down on their commitment to outdoorsman offering wearables, cameras and sporting dog gear. They are becoming an outdoor brand.

The Fenix 3 ($400) hasn’t left my wrist for anything but charging since the spring. It’s tracked my preseason workouts, warned of coming storms, pointed me in the right direction, foretold sunrise and sunsets, showed distances I’ve travelled and marked the truck’s location. An amazing piece of wearable tech that I still am not utilizing a fraction of its total potential. And now I can use it to control the VIRB XE ($399) action cameras to take first person video and stills.

Besides the 1080p video, 12MP capabilities and waterproof to 50M without a case, the stand out feature of the VIRB XE is the incorporation of data overlay which can track speed, g-force, position….. attach the VIRB to a bird dog and the possibilities become mind boggling. You’ll be seeing more and more video from Ultimate Upland in the coming months as we continue to explore this Garmin duo in bird hunting applications.


I’m always in search of the next great boot because footwear design and materials evolve so quickly relative to other outdoor gear. Every season there is something new and every season we’re hiking hundreds of miles in all kinds of conditions making the perfect grinder to test innovation. I’ve owned a few pairs of Keen before this season and noted them as lightweight, solid construction and extremely comfortable. When I learned about the Keen American Built initiative I knew it was time to take the new style Logans ($130-$160) to the field. Right now 25% of Keen’s line are built in its Portland factory, with hopes to one day have 100% made in the US footwear. That’s a tall order for boots with price points below $160. Comfortable straight out of the box, I’ve worn the Logan exclusively this season, Keen Logan in good weather and Keen Logan Mid when conditions turn sour. Single boots weigh right around a pound, less for Women’s Logan. Aggressive soles, waterproof membranes, solid stitching, synthetic miracle materials….. American Built. I’m sold.

Blitz Wipes

Blitz had it’s origins in jewelry cleaning but has expanded their offerings to include hunters’ bling. Besides being non-petroleum based and made in the USA, the Blitz Firearm Wipes ($7) just work really well. I’m not sure what proprietary oil is used, but every bird hunter should have a pack of these in the truck to wipe the stink off guns before returning them to the case.


The NEMO Equipment Dagger 2 Person Tent weighed in a full 2 lbs. lighter than my old backpacking tent. That may not sound like much but when you’re talking about hauling a crammed backpack miles up a mountain over 9,000′ above sea level, those couple pounds are fairly pronounced. We’ve become fans of NEMO’s equipment which is well thought out and designed. Easy setup, ample floor space for two bird dogs and one hunter (jump up to the 3P if another hunter is in tow), roomy vestibules for extra gear and extra headroom in this tent created by a single pole system means you never end up leaving poles on the mountain in a rushed pack out.


While we’re on the topic of camping and hunting in wild places, these opportunities depend on healthy habitat and good access for sportsmen. The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP) fights for all these and more in its mission to guarantee all Americans quality places to hunt and fish. The TRCP is the only group that seeks to unite all sportsmen around important federal issues that affect fish and wildlife habitat, funding for conservation programs, and sportsmen’s access.

This holiday season become a donor and take part in the Public Lands Challenge: from now through December 31, The Orvis Company will match any NEW donor’s gift to the TRCP or any gift INCREASE from a past donor. All donations will support the TRCP’s efforts to keep public lands public (and there are a number of great thank-you gifts to select in exchange for your donation).

You can help make the voice of sportsmen even stronger by supporting the TRCP today.

Learn more, sign up, and donate at www.TRCP.org.


Besides doing their part to support public access, Orvis is also making some great improvements to their upland gear. When the leaves have yet to drop and shooting windows are minute, the ruffed grouse leave no time for thinking or for fumbling with the mount of the shotgun. The thing I like most about the Orvis Upland Shell ($198) is it provides warmth and water resistance without bulk. Tough fabric stands up to the briars but still breathes. The adjustable cuffs and addition of a blaze orange options are a big improvement from the previous model which I wore for years. When the weather turns cold this jacket has found permanent residence under my vest.

Nitize Spotlit

That conniving black lab of mine will no longer use cover of night to perform acts of mischief. Now I clip on a Nite Ize Disco SPOTLIT ($6) and he gives me the look of disdain as I send him outside to do his business. No more losing track of the dark dog in the darkness.

Benchmade Steep Country

I’ve lost two knives to briars and saplings snagging the pocket clip. Maddening. I decided this season I would teach the pick pocket coverts a lesson and hunt with a sheathed fix blade. To be honest, I still like the feel of a knife in my pocket, probably because most of my brush pants have a permanent impression from years of carry. But the edge retention, hunter orange santoprene polymer handle, the heft of this Benchmade Steep Country ($98) feels great in the hand. Whether it’s an upland bird or a Ponderosa pine, when I have this knife I feel like I can render it to pieces.


When I informed the folks at Hawke Optics that I needed a pair of high-power, high-performance, lightweight binoculars for upland hunting I’m pretty certain they thought I’d sprung a leak. Not really the kind of equipment one thinks of for pursuit of traditional upland game. But when I explained we’d be chasing Himalayan Snowcock in Nevada high country where the challenges of spotting birds before they jump from cliffs is real, Hawke recommended their Endurance 10×42 ($240). For the entire month of September the Endurance were our eyes during brutal mountain ascents and backcountry antics as the Snowcock turned us inside out. We never closed the distance on these spooky birds but still managed to fall on these Hawke binocs no less than three times in loose rocky terrain. None the worse for wear, they are great value, really good glass and live up to the name.

UST Wetfire

A human can survive without food for three weeks. Hypothermia and exposure are the real killers in the wild. I’ve added the UST WetFire™ Tinder ($7) to my vest as part of my mobile first aid and survival gear. In the event I can’t make it back to the truck due to weather, injury or poor navigation skills I will now always be able to start a fire and stay warm.

UA Base 4.0

I’m not normally a long john kind of guy because trudging through thick cover tends to produce enough body heat that shedding layers is more likely the norm. But last year hunting late season we got caught in a Midwest blizzard with winds cutting at ridiculous speeds and ambient temps in the teens. That’s when I broke out the Under Armour Base 4.0 and it made me a believer ($80 crew/ $80 legs). I felt like Spiderman when I stretched into this base layer. It hugs the body while still putting a cushion of air next to the skin. With windchills reaching deep negatives and freezing rain coming in sideways the hunt continued…. until I could no longer feel my face. Hoping UA Base 4.0 for the face comes out this year.


Everyone considers eye protection at the range required equipment. But vision is probably more at risk when bird hunters are afield. I’ve grown tired of taking sticks to the eye when busting cover. I didn’t think there were glasses that could perform in all the varying terrains and conditions I choose to hunt especially when those change throughout the day. I was wrong. Rudy Project Magster with ImpactX-2 photochromic clear-to-red lenses ($275) transition to any light condition afield. Insanely lightweight with what seems infinite adjustment, I often forget I’m even wearing eye protection. Rudy Project is adding shooting sports to their lineup for elite athletes. Other lens options exist, all with lifetime warranty and frames have a 3-year warranty. I expect these Magster will be with me for a long time because I’m no longer willing to risk my sight while hunting.

Cabela's Fleece

If you’ve stumbled into a Cabela’s store recently – and it’s tough not to because they are popping up like Whac-A-Mole – you may notice that more and more of the gear they sell is Cabela’s brand. It appears they’ve used the market research from selling all manner of other brands to produce the top sellers on their own, often at lower price points. I’ve been a skeptic of much of their clothing which in the early days seemed cheap and of inferior production. But my last visit I noticed a number of items that have made a quality leap. That’s how I came to own this Cabela’s Long-Sleeve Fleece ($60) .The shirt looks like an old-school thick wool flannel, but actually is super soft fleece, well-constructed, durable and the right weight over a t-shirt for hanging around a campfire in brisk air of a fall camp.

Kali Parmley’s Picks:


With a myriad of upland gear available for men, women bird-chasers don’t have it that easy. Cabela’s has come to the rescue with their “OutfitHER” women’s specific line of clothing (no pink involved). Ladies looking for a reliable, comfortable, and durable pair of field pants for their adventures chasing ringnecks should turn to the Cabela’s OutfitHER Upland Pants ($60). Made from 100% cotton canvas, the pants are equipped with nylon weave panels that resist the toughest of brambles and thickets, and are lined with hunter orange to help with safety in the field. Best part: their price-point won’t break the bank.

Looking for a softshell jacket that can be warn in your early and late season hunts? Consider the North Branch Softshell from FirstLite ($250) as your go-to jacket. The softshell is lightweight, durable and provides warmth without bulk—a bird chasers best friend. The jacket is fleece lined, but breathable, highly water resistant, wind proof and quiet—all makings of the perfect field jacket. I’ve worn this as my go-to upland jacket this season, and couldn’t have been more pleased. Finding myself in different weather conditions while chasing Sharptails in North Dakota, the North Branch stood up against rain, snow and wind, all the while keeping me warm, comfortable, and still able to swing my shotgun with ease.


Traveling with your favorite four-legged hunting companion just got easier with Cabela’s Gun Dog Food and Hydration Pack ($70) that makes storing food for a long road trip to hunt camp simple. The pack not only keeps up to 8lbs. of food dry with its roll-top closure, it also holds 1.5 liters of water. Bonus features: A zip-open food-dispensing spout and pour valve for water. Also included is a zip-away food/water bowl, perfect for meals on the road. This pack stored food for 10 days, with plenty of room to spare, on my long road-trip to chase wild birds with my lab, Lincoln. This is a must-have for the hunter and dog on the go.


Small and portable, the Camp Chef Rainier Campers Combo Stove ($153) is complete with a one-burner stove, and a non-stick griddle and grill. The griddle and grill are easily switched for making pancakes in the morning, to grilling venison for dinner. Complete with a matchless ignition for ease of use, the Camper’s Combo is the perfect stove for hunting and camping adventures. I was fortunate enough to use the Rainier Camper’s Combo in North Dakota during my 3-day wild bird hunt camp. The stove performed flawlessly while cooking antelope over the grill, and even in tight quarters as my fellow hunters and I squeezed into a smaller camper to avoid freezing rain. Venison was grilled to medium-rare perfection, while noodles were boiling on the burner.

Britney Starr’s Picks:

Mabton Vest

Despite the fact that women’s hunting gear has come a long way, overall, since I first started busting brush, it can still be slim pickins when it comes to female-specific upland gear. Luckily, there are a few companies who are doing it right, not just men’s sizing made smaller, but actual women-designed and women-tailored gear. One of those companies is Eddie Bauer. I’ve worn their Mabton Flats vest ($199) for three seasons in Michigan’s North Woods, and South Dakota, and it’s held up beautifully. The vest is made of durable, water-resistant material, that really does stay dry … Except for if you fall, armpit deep, into a bog while hunting swamp grouse, but I digress. The back pouch is roomy enough for a limit of birds, as well as a water bottle for the dog, and the front pockets can fit an entire box of shells each – if you like to burn powder like I do, you’ll probably want to have that many. Overall, the Mabton Flats vest is a solid staple piece to your upland wardrobe and well worth the investment.

Mud River

My mom always told me to invest in nice luggage, well, that goes for toting your hunting gear, also. My Mud River Rolling Duffel ($192) has been to Africa, Saskatchewan, and multiple states in the US, and still looks as good as the day I bought it. The hard-sided bottom adds an extra measure of protection, as well as a great storage space. Mud River also offers a host of dog accessories to make your travels easier, including the Crate Cushion ($20 – $27) that gets “two paws up” from my GSP Wesson.


This comprehensive e-collar + beeper system is a great package for any uplander on your Christmas list. With a 1-mile range on the e-collar and 500-yard audible range on the beeper, the SportDOG Brand® UplandHunter® 1875 ($385) makes it just as easy to keep tabs on your big-running dog, as it is to locate your close-working pup in dense cover.

Packed with features like DRYTEK® waterproofing, expandability to add up to 3 dogs on one transmitter, seven levels of momentary and continuous stimulation, as well as the option to train with vibrate and tone, SportDOG Brand follows through with its motto of “Gear the Way You’d Design It.”

To make things even better, SportDOG Brand is offering a $50 rebate on gear priced $199 and above, now through 12/31/2015!

There’s nothing like chasing some late season birds to help get the blood flowing and burn off the extra mugs of eggnog. Get all that shopping done and get outside. 

Upland Stamp Gains Momentum

Franklin's Spruce GrouseEarlier this year, after months of discussion on the state of upland birds and conservation in this country we released an article titled “It’s Time for the Federal Upland Stamp.” The week we published coincided with Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) biannual meeting in Omaha sponsored by the Wildlife Management Institute (WMI)  — often referred to as “The North American” by biologists and wildlife professionals, not known by many others including hunters.

The North American got its start in 1936, but credits Jay N. “Ding” Darling, founder of the duck stamp, with the vision for the national conference as an annual forum for scientists, managers, educators, administrators, and non-governmental conservation interests. Although it is a business meeting, it is also a meeting for and about the organizations and individuals who shoulder the stewardship of conservation in our country. As upland hunters who wished to make upland conservation a priority, it seemed fitting to suggest the idea for a federal upland stamp at the 100th Anniversary of a conference proposed by the founder of the federal duck stamp.

Though there are numerous conservation organization reps in attendance, the conference is primarily biologists, state and federal agency employees, the policy makers and shakers for wildlife and wild places. Hunters are not the focus here. Upland Bird hunters are even a smaller slice, especially ones from the “media.” Truth is, there was very little media at all in attendance, which we found shocking considering the depth of decision and policy being discussed and shaped at the event.

We were asked to speak about the upland stamp at the Resident Game Bird Working Group meeting which is attended by numerous state wildlife officials and members of most of the national upland conservation organizations. If there is one group in the entire country where this idea could credibly be germinated and developed, it would need to come through these members.

Honestly, our presentation to a group of upland bird biologists hit them cold. There were more questions and a general awkwardness in the room than support for the idea of a federal upland stamp. But there were glimmers of hope, private conversations with scientists who had seen the same data we researched to reach the idea for a federal upland stamp. Directors and assistant directors of state departments expressed intrigue. We left WMI with hope that the rest of the conservation establishment would join the discussion.

In July, under the leadership and vision of Director Don McKenzie, the Federal Upland Stamp received public backing of the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) and their entire board comprised of conservationists and biologists. See McKenzie’s insights in his Ammoland op-ed.  

View the entire letter recommending the upland stamp to the AFWA’s recently assembled Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources, below:

NBCI Letter

Read Full Letter

Last week in New Jersey the National Bobwhite Technical Committee (NBTC) held its annual meeting where McKenzie presented the stamp for discussion. Months after the idea appeared too big for serious discussion, it continues to gain momentum as the best national funding opportunity to address the glaring shortfalls in wildlife conservation for upland game birds.

Backers are no longer just forward thinking hunters. Join the conversation and become a part of conservation history by signing the petition for a Federal Upland Stamp today.


SportDOG Brand Announces Second Annual Companions for Conservation Contest

Birddog PuppyKnoxville, Tennessee (June 2, 2015) – SportDOG Brand®, an industry-leading brand of electronic dog tracking and training products, has announced the continuation of its Conservation Fund initiative. After overwhelming success in its inaugural year, the Companions for Conservation contest will again result in three lucky youths taking ownership of new hunting dogs, trained by SportDOG Brand Senior ProStaff members.

The contest seeks to give families with children ages 8 to 18, who have an interest in hunting and conservation, the opportunity to win a new hunting companion. Three of the country’s top trainers, Shawn Kinkelaar, Kim Bishop, and Chris Akin, will provide training through the started stage for the prize dogs – a pointer, hound, and retriever, respectively.

To enter, post your original dog training, youth education, hunting, or wildlife habitat related photo to the SportDOG Brand Facebook page, Twitter account, or via the online web form. The post must contain the hashtag corresponding to the dog you’d like to win (#SDC4CPointer, #SDC4CHound, or #SDC4CRetriever). All entries should be submitted between 11 a.m. ET, on June 1, 2015, and 5 p.m. ET, on July 1, 2015. A panel of seven judges will then vote and decide on three finalists for each dog, after which, public voting for the grand prize winners will take place on sportdog.com. The three lucky winner’s names will be announced at 11a.m. ET, on July 31, 2015. Complete details and official rules can be found in the Conservation Fund section of the SportDOG Brand website.

Companions for Conservation