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2016 Gift Guide for Bird Hunters

Even most bird hunters deserve more than a few lumps of coal this holiday season. With help from  Contributors Kali Parmley and Andrea Haas we’ve assembled a list of gift ideas that should simplify shopping for the uplanders in your life.


Camp Chef Coven
When we came off the mountain from ptarmigan hunting in Colorado I surprised my hunting partners by making homemade apple pie in the Camp Chef Coven. Boiling, grilling, and frying have never been a problem at hunting camp. But sometimes you just want a loaf of bread or cinnamon rolls. Now with the Coven nothing is off-limits cooking in bird hunting camp from quail casseroles to pheasant quiche.

Even on the coldest mornings the Coven would fire up and climb to 350°+ using standard propane bottles. Multiple racks allow heating the 13 x 9″ lasagna at the same time as a baking sheet of rolls. And the two-burner cooktop will accommodate boiling, frying or scrambled eggs……getting hungry just thinking of all the possibilities. You may as well get the travel case too ($37), because the CampChef Coven ($130) is going to become required gear for every camp.

Nite Ize Glowstreak BallOne of the worst things about the shortened days of daylight savings is leaving for work in the dark and returning home in the dark. That schedule doesn’t mesh well with bird dogs that need to burn off excess energy. With the Nite Ize Glowstreak LED dog ball we can now play fetch into the wee hours without losing bumpers or dogs ($12).

Carhartt Upland Field

A reputation for rugged no-frills performance in the roughest work environments had many hunters wearing Carhartt clothing in upland brush for years. This season Carhartt made it official with a new trio specifically for bird hunters; the Upland Field Shirt, Pant and Jacket.

The jacket ($140) and pants ($80) in the Carhartt Brown canvas with Rain Defender® water repellent have reinforced seams and overlays in high-wear areas for durability. The khaki shirt ($70) also offers water resistance in the Quick Duck® canvas with spandex and poly in the blend for added mobility. This Upland Field shirt is as hard core as it gets, even with the vented back it may be too warm for early season but will be just right for running down educated roosters once winter arrives.

Tons of pockets, the right mix of blaze, built tough like the guys who wear it – if you’re a fan of Carhartt then you’re gonna like their upland lineup.

Lander Cascade Power BankIt seems like we’re always having to charge some device in order to share photos or videos from the field. Lander’s Cascade 7800 Power Bank ($53) gives you tons of backup power in a slim, lightweight profile to charge smartphones, tablets or action cameras when wandering far from outlets. In power-sapping, sub-freezing temps at elevation in Colorado the Cascade still managed to put multiple charges on our phone.

Go ahead and pair the power bank with Lander’s Neve cables that are virtually indestructible, reflective and made to insure your connections are always solid ($15-$25).

SPOT Gen3

Heading to the edge of the map in pursuit of wild birds has become a regular part of our autumns. That solitude can be a truly welcome change from the bustle of constant connections afforded by smartphones and dumb computers. The birds we’re after seem to have a keen awareness of the boundaries of cell service and congregate in those deep culverts and woods where one can’t alert anyone to their location.

Though chances are remote, there’s potential for injury or immobility. That’s where the SPOT GEN3 comes in. It tracks your paths for later review, or marks locations and shares via text or email with up to 10 friends and loved ones. But in the event of an emergency pushing the SOS button alerts the GEOS International Emergency Response Coordination Center who provide your GPS coordinates and information to local response teams. They send the cavalry, helicopter or whatever resources may be needed to get you and your bird dogs out  – yes, I made sure my dogs are part of my rescue plan. If the cavalry isn’t needed but assistance from another contact in a non-life-threatening situation the help alert is available as well. All this is accomplished via satellite, no cell signal required only a clear view of the sky.

When your family wants to know you’re safe but the birds lead you to places that aren’t, SPOT GEN3 is the answer. Take advantage of the holiday sale – 50% off retail for the unit ($75, service starting at $15 per month).

Benchmade BarrageNot sure you can out-design the blade makers at Benchmade, but now you can give it a shot. Two of their most popular knives – the Griptilian® and Barrage® – can now be made-to-order with Benchmade Custom. From blade shape and metal to handle material and color, hardware color, even custom laser engraving; the combinations are nearly endless and allow crafting a hunting knife unlike any other in the world.

Your custom knife will go in the production queue and you’ll receive email updates reporting progress. In 10-15 days it will arrive on your doorstep razor sharp and ready to disassemble birds. I opted for the Barrage® with blaze handle, SV30 stainless and Ultimate Upland graphics. But I’ve already designed a Griptilian® with G10 handles that may need to find it’s way to my stocking ($165 – $250 depending on selected options).

Cabela's Range BagThe problem with most range bags is they can’t handle the weight of shotgun shells and end up folding under the pressure. Cabela’s Eliminator Range Bag is lightweight yet with enough structure to easily hold 12 boxes of 20 gauge. Padded sides and movable dividers allow arranging of gear to your liking. Tons of pockets for choke tubes, ear and eye protection, car keys, snacks….. it’s tough to imagine a better solution for under $35.

 

Farm to Feet SocksThough socks are rarely highlighted in gear discussions, they can be extremely important for upland pursuit. During the first half of the season we averaged over seven miles a day in all kinds of terrain and weather. Farm to Feet’s Ely line has both lightweight and mid-weight options ($23–$27) at varying lengths to match any conditions afield.

Made in North Carolina from nylon, Spandex and merino wool raised by American Farmers, the fit and compression from arch to the Achilles is what really makes Farm to Feet wear different. Seamless toe closures and extra cushioning in all the right places help protect your feet on days when the miles pile up. Give Farm to Feet Ely a try, they’ll make a good hunting boot even better.

Hoppe's Wax Gun ClothNothing is gonna make the “character marks” on my upland gun look new again, but Hoppe’s Wax Treated Gun Cloth may be the next best option. It cleans, polishes and protects wooden stocks, metal hardware and gun barrels. At under $6, it’s an easy stocking stuffer for any gun owner.

Strongback ChairThe STRONGBACK Low Gravity Chair was a big hit at bird camp. Finally there’s a campfire seating option that offers true back comfort with frame integrated lumbar support. Extra large feet keep the STRONGBACK chair from sinking into turf even with a 300 lb weight capacity. Still light and low profile, these chairs fold down into a carry bag with back pack straps that could even make the trip to a hunting blind.

Sit back, relax, put your drink in the holder and enjoy some campfire ergonomics thanks to STRONGBACK ($60).


Kali Parmley’s Picks….

Orvis Women's Upland VestIt’s hard to find a women’s specific upland vest—more often than not we are resorting to men’s vests that can be too large and cumbersome for us. If you’re looking for a vest that is simple, well-made, and actually fit for a woman, take a look at Orvis’s Women’s Upland Vest. This vest ($149) comes complete with mesh sides to reduce weight, two water bottle pockets, and a waterproof/bloodproof blaze orange game bag. Additionally, the vest features two front shell pockets with magnetic closures, a zip pocket on the front, and a hidden zip pocket inside. Bonus: Orvis has included a vertical loop on the outside of the vest for securing your dog collar transmitter. It sits low enough to reduce getting in the way of shouldering your gun on the flush.

Cabela's Pants
When chasing birds to the tops of peaks, flexible and unrestricted pants that still protect from the thickest of briars are a must. Cabela’s has answered that call with their Instinct Prairie Runner pants ($140) that are made with a flexible polyester/spandex shell and water-resistant nylon overlays to protect you in thick brush. I wore these pants on a three week road trip chasing birds across the west. Breathable and light, these pants allowed easy and quick movement while hunting running sharptails and huns across Montana.

Orvis Field Bowl
I was about to hit the road for a three week road trip with my dog, Lincoln, and I was trying to travel as light as possible. Dog bowls can be bulky and take up too much space—that’s why I discovered Orvis’s Field Collection Travel Bowl ($29). Made of a cotton with a waterproof liner, the travel bowl is a full size dog bowl that zips down to the size of a wallet. I used this as Lincoln’s food and water dish for the entirety of the trip with no problems. When not in use, I tucked away easily, leaving me more room for birds.

Ruffwear Pad
When roughin’ it in the backcountry, your K9 companion needs to sleep just as well as you do to have the energy to find wild birds. In search of a lightweight pad to carry for Lincoln on our backpacking adventure up 12,000 feet to chase ptarmigan, I stumbled upon the Highlands Pad from Ruffwear ($30). A packable, lightweight (7 oz.), sleeping pad, the Highlands Pad is made of closed-cell foam that helped provide insulation from the cold ground for my tired pup. The pad folds down accordion style, making it simple to strap to the front of my pack.


Andrea Haas’s Picks… Be sure to follow Andrea at Huntress View

First Lite GlovesThe First Lite Talus Fingerless Merino Gloves ($18) are perfect for the upland hunter. The fingers are open so your hands remain warm while still being able to easily load your shotgun and feel your shotgun trigger. They’re made from 100% merino wool which is known to keep over 80% of its warmth and insulating properties, even after getting wet. These are my go-to gloves all season long, no matter what game I’m pursuing.

proishat
Like a lot of women, I am petite and have issues finding hats that fit me, even ones that are designed for women. The Prois Orange Cap with Brown Waxed Bill fit me perfectly and the size can easily be adjusted with a back Velcro closure. And to make it even better, they have so many colors to choose from, including the classic upland hunting colors: blaze orange and brown waxed canvas ($27).

SHE Hunting Boots
When the weather conditions are less than perfect, the SHE® Outdoor Expedition BONE-DRY Insulated Waterproof Hunting Boots go the extra mile in keeping your feet warm and dry. They are breathable, waterproof, and have a great fit and comfortable support that make them perfect for walking miles in search of upland birds in a variety of terrain and weather conditions. I have worn these the past 2 seasons and see no reason to try anything else! ($100)

Prois Safari Hoodie
Yes, the name has “Safari” in it, but don’t be fooled! This Prois Sojourn Safari Hoodie has become a staple item in my hunting closet and I have found it to be great for a variety of different hunting endeavors, including upland bird hunting. Constructed from cool polyester/spandex, this shirt provides moisture wicking properties, as well as UV protection AND antimicrobial properties. The thumbholes in the sleeves are a bonus, adding a little extra warmth to your hands when needed. I wore this hoodie alone during the cold morning hunts and carried it over into the warmer afternoon hunts without having to change up my wardrobe ($70).


Just think, the sooner you get all the shopping done, the more time you’ll have for wild places and wild birds. Head outside in some frightful weather and make it a great holiday. 

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.

Ruffwear

 

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.

Keens

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.

Dagger

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.

TRCPlogo

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.

OrvisUplandShell

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.

endurance

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.

RudyProjectMags

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:

FirstLiteandCabelas

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.

cabelasgundog

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.

campchefrainier

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.

SportDOG1875

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. 

2014 Gift Guide for Bird Hunters

Another year of putting great upland gear to the test has resulted in a list of field tested items that will make any bird hunter ready to unwrap this holiday. We enlisted the assistance of author and huntress Christine Cunningham to help round out our gift ideas for the female uplander in your life. Here are some gift ideas that shouldn’t need to include a receipt:

Brute Cooler

 

The Brute Cooler is appropriately named — hard core, roto-molded, large handles, rubber latches — it’s got it all. Made in America by Brute, a family run company with excellent customer service. The 50 qt. ($319) will keep your birds chilled for at least five days, but go with the 75 qt. ($369) if you want to throw lunch and drinks on board too.

 

1816 by Remington Gunsmith Shirt

 

The 1816 by Remington Gunsmith Shirt ($90) and Upland Bird Pant ($158) belong together afield. The shirt is a heavy weight blend of hemp and cotton, feels soft but sturdy enough to be bullet proof. Wore the pants daily for the entire first half of the season in all kinds of weather and cover for over 250 miles. Looks like they may have another 250 miles in them, but it might be time to wash them once. On Cyber Monday 1816 is offering 20% off and Free Shipping to all Ultimate Uplanders. Use promo code ULTIMATEUP

 

Filson Stryker

 

 

We ended up hunting in South Dakota in some of the most brutal conditions I’ve ever experienced afield. Filson’s Stryker Jacket ($325) gave us the perfect balance between insulation and weight. We had no problem wearing our strap vest over top and staying warm. The best part is we could still smoothly mount the shotgun without feeling over burdened by too many layers.

 

 

Ruffwear Mt. Bachelor Pad

If you own bird dogs, you need to know about Ruffwear. Their dog boots have been a part of our essential gear for years because of the premium design and construction. And now Ruffwear is making the Mt. Bachelor Pad dog bed ($70 – $90) which shares the same awesome construction of their other products and is perfect for road trips. When you’re done with the trip, throw it in the washing machine and then roll it up and stow it.

Helio Shower

 

 

Hunting in Alaska this year I went 20 days without a shower. Never again. NEMO makes the Helio Pressure Shower ($99) specifically for these backcountry adventures. It’s also a great solution for hosing off bird dogs that have rolled in mystery stench. Honestly, in Alaska I may have smelled worse than the dogs. The Helio packs up small and tucks away in a corner until needed.

Sage Fly Rod

 

 

 

 

 

Normally I’m all blast and no cast. But even the toughest bird dogs need to take breaks. Sage convinced us that during these down times we should try slinging some flies. It is addictive. The Sage One Fly Rod and 4250 Reel combo ($995) and a handful of flies gave us everything we needed to chase fish while the dogs recuperated from tough days afield. We’ll have the One in the truck on all our trips now.

 

 

The W.R. Case Pheasant Hunter ($120) may look like a collector’s edition but don’t be fooled. The stag handle and fixed blade feel great in hand and are perfect for taking apart birds in the field. When finished filleting, slide it back into the leather sheath, throw it in the truck console and head to the next field.

Case Pheasant Hunter Knife

Nite Ize Steelie

 

Turn your vehicle into a mobile bird hunting command unit just by adding the Nite Ize Steelie Car Mount ($35). Whoever is riding shotgun can use a smart phone or tablet with the Socket ($19) to checkout GPS and satellite imagery in real time while headed to the next covert.

 

 

 

Hoppes WipesHoppes Air Freshener

 

I hate when I go to clean the shotgun while traveling and find the bottle of solvent has leaked and is empty. These Hoppes 9 Wipes ($9) put an end to that. And to make sure the truck still has that new gun aroma, I’ve added the Hoppes 9 Air Freshener.

 

 

 

SportDOG Launcher

 

The SportDOG Launcher System ($425) is a great tool for owners of pointing breeds hoping to train steadiness to flush and shot. To add realism to training, the transmitter can signal the launcher to emit the sound of a pheasant cackle or shotgun report eliminating the need for multiple assistants or cap guns. SportDOG continues to make quality products that allow you to fully train your own bird dog.

 

 

Whether you have a mom, sister, wife, daughter or girlfriend who is an upland hunter, there’s no shortage of upland stuff they will want or need. Here’s Christine’s picks for the female hunter.

Dublin River Boots

Jameson BootsA new pair of shoes does not have to be a pair of luxury heels to be exhilarating. Waterproof and breathable field boots that transition well from the field to the everyday are a great gift for women hunters. My favorite are Dublin River Boots ($199). Another classic is the Le Chameau Jameson Lady Zip GTX ($520).  These are not a good choice for chukar hunts in sheep country, but they are a stylish option for most game fields.

 

Beretta Sweater

 

 

 

A well-constructed wool shooting sweater that keeps you warm in the field can pull double duty as an outer layer. The Beretta Windshield Sweater ($125) with its soft wool exterior and windproof liner, is an attractive mid-layer that acts as a wind block.

 

 

Eddie Bauer VestBarbour Vest

 

 

 

The Eddie Bauer Micro Therm StormDown Vest ($149) or padded vest by Barbour ($99) offer the perfect form-fitting mid-layer for the field.

 

 

 

My favorite merino socks are from Darn Tough Vermont ($20) and are guaranteed for life. The Merino beanie from First Lite ($35) is available in a variety of colors including Hunter Orange. Merino wool glove liners from Minus33 ($18) are perfect for inside mittens.

Merino SocksMerino BeanieMerino Gloves

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ammo Jewelry

 

 

Camo Ammo and SureShot jewelry have their gauges covered for shotgun casing jewelry and offer spent shell bracelets, necklaces, earrings and even a bejeweled flask. If you go with the flask, include a bottle of Bird Dog Whiskey.

 

 

 

This year, Syren USA, a division of Caesar Guerini, produced a line of field and target shotguns designed exclusively for women. I reviewed the Syren Elos Venti ($2,980) in 20 gauge this fall and fell in love with it. Why not make it a his and hers shotgun holiday, pickup an Ellipse in 20 gauge too ($4,325).

Syren ELOS

Caesar Guerini Ellipse

Women Hunting AlaskaMouthful of Feathers

There’s nothing like curling up by the fire with a good book. Christine’s Women Hunting Alaska ($19) makes a great read for inspiring the women in your life to challenge themselves afield. And Mouthful of Feathers – Upland in the West ($5) is a great compilation by talented writers of bird hunting tales for your tablet.

 

Be sure to get outside, stretch the legs and burn some powder with family and friends over this holiday season. 

 

 

2013 Gift Guide for Bird Hunters

It’s hard to believe it is already that time of year again. The waning bird hunting season has given everyone a chance to test their hunting equipment. We’ve put our share of gadgets through the wringer as well in search of the best gear for Ultimate Uplanders. Here’s our list of items that are required gear for the bird hunter. Click the included links to finish shopping for your uplander.

Kevin's Gun Case and Cleaning Kit

We figured a company featuring a Bobwhite in their logo must know a little something about upland hunting. And it turns out we were right. Lugging our gun cleaning gear around in a plastic bag was getting old. Kevin’s Saddle Leather and Canvas Roll-Up Cleaning Kit ($89) offers a stylish solution for carrying all your gun cleaning supplies combined with a nifty scratch-free surface to break down shotguns. Once your shooting stick is properly shined, stow it in the matching Kevin’s English Canvas Gun Slip ($119). We can’t guarantee that putting your favorite shotgun to bed in this high-quality case will make it shoot better…. but it worked for us. Because Kevin’s is a full-service retailer, pick up some cleaning supplies as stocking stuffers to go with this perfect duo for shotgunners. Click here to get your Kevin’s Gear.

WingOne

Brothers Tom and Jerry Black have an infectious enthusiasm that is just fun to be around. And they have reason to be excited; their WingOne Clay Thrower ($34.95) is a huge leap forward in product design. It beats the pants off the cheap plastic hand throwers that everyone is familiar with. No more shattering clays when loading and you get extra an umph with less throwing effort with the American made WingOne. Be sure to check out some of their videos for bonus holiday entertainment when visiting their site to purchase your WingOne.

Aloe Care Comb

 

Early this season in Montana we spent 45 minutes after a morning hunt untangling collected cockle burs from Rio’s coat. Left unattended, burs can work their way into a dog’s pits and cause irritation while running. Then we found the Aloe Care Fine Tooth Pet Comb ($2.19) let’s you pull burs free from the hair with very little fuss in a fraction of the time of trying to untangle and clip out by hand. If you own a long hair dog it is a must have item for your travel kit.

 

 

 

Fitbit Flex

At the start of the season we began wearing the Fitbit Flex ($99.95) to track exactly how many miles we hike on a hunt. It has become an invaluable tool to help us learn more about our hunting habits. Unlike a bulky GPS, the Flex is a small unit always powered up that you wear on a wrist. Full charges by the supplied USB dongle tend to last 4-5 days. There is an easy online setup at fitbit.com that allows you to set goals and get started. Based on weight and height it tracks your calorie usage and distance among other things. A couple of taps of the Flex and small display lights on the unit show progress against your daily goal. Tracking is also available on your Bluetooth enabled smartphone. Once you reach your daily goal, the Flex vibrates to let you know. We’ve always figured that the dogs cover at least twice as much distance as we do. By setting our goal at five miles it gave us a quick visual reference to know when it was near quitting time to keep the dogs from burning themselves out in a single day. It’s a long season; I have walked 467 miles so far — 966,00 steps and 263,000 calories. Click here to start tracking your hunts too and let’s get upland fit together.

Wolverine Terrain II Boots

Every one of our miles afield this season the Wolverine Terrain II Mid-Cut Waterproof Trail Hiker ($142) have been on our feet. Aggressive soles, waterproof and rugged — you really can’t ask for much more from a hunting boot. But when you cover as much ground as we do, weight is the primary concern. The Terrain II weigh in at a slight 15 ounces each which is exactly why we’ve looked beyond Wolverine’s expansive hunting line to a boot they classify as hiking. We like to combine a low cut boot with a pant inseam a bit long for best results in the upland field. Wolverine makes these boots in standard and extra-wide to fit any foot. Click here to get your pair.

SportDOG Training Bumpers

Your bird dog works hard and deserves a present too. Our lab Wyatt goes bonkers for these SportDOG Orange Plastic Dummies. They come in both a regular and jumbo size and work great for both water and land retrieving practice. The 3-packs are the way to go ( Reg. $17.94 / Jumbo $24.95).  Stock up on SportDOG Brand® hats, t’s and gear bags for you too. They are offering  50% off apparel this Cyber Monday, 12/2 only.  Visit www.sportdog.com/apparel.

Blackwood Pet Food

You get your fill of turkey during the holidays, shouldn’t your four-legged hunting buddy get some turkey too. Blackwood Pet Foods offers canned foods containing all-natural grain-free premium ingredients. There’s no artificial flavor or colors in this Turkey and Tripe recipe which should satisfy your dogs holiday hunger. We also use this top-notch food to help stimulate hunger and keep weight on hard working bird dogs that often choose to pass on eating; just mix with regular dry food. A case of 24 cans ($67) should get you through the holidays and the rest of the hunting season.

 

Our friend and gunzel Britney Starr recommends the Eddie Bauer Mabton Flats vest ($199) for Ultimate Upland ladies. According to Britney, Eddie Bauer has a women’s-specific vest that will suit even the most hardcore upland huntress. It isn’t just a man’s vest in a smaller size, either. Cut with the female body in mind, the Mabton Flats vest allows for unrestricted arm movement. It has plenty of pockets for gear, and has external loops to hang a whistle or e-collar remote. The zippered game bag allows for easy access to birds when the hunt is over. Be sure to check out all of Britney’s gear selections for women.

 

ThermaCELL

There is a lot of down time during the season. Early on when the weather is still hot, that down time brings a whole host of annoying biting bugs to camp which make getting rest a challenge. We have to admit that we had our doubts with the plastic appearance of the ThermaCELL ($26.99). At our wit’s end we were willing to try anything and this little unit delivered.  Biting flies and mosquitos hate it, which guarantees we love it. You can’t put DEET on the dogs and it’s probably not a great idea to cake it on yourself either and with the ThermaCELL you no longer have to. Purchase a ThermaCELL.

 

 

Filson Belt

Filson is widely renowned for their indestructible Tin Cloth clothing. But this season we’ve been especially impressed with the quality of their leather. The Filson Double-Thick Belt ($88) may be the last belt you ever purchase. Sturdy is an understatement. Eat as much as you want over the holidays, we guarantee it can strap it in. This belt will last two lifetimes, plan on willing it to your favorite child. You may as well add the Filson Original Goat Skin Gloves ($88) to your cart as well — they’re a great combination of supple and durable. These gloves are just the right thickness for shotgunning and seem to retain a tackiness that lets your safety thumb still sing. If you spend $100 with Filson this Cyber Monday, you’ll get an American-made water bottle for free to go with your new leather gear.

 

Ganola Bars

Everyone needs a great snack to pair with that large cup of eggnog. In place of those empty holiday cookies try these healthy all-natural Ganola Cinnamon Coffee Bean Bars.  Ganola is giving Ultimate Uplanders 20% off  when you purchase a case. Use coupon code BirdBoom13 when you place your order and help fill out the stockings with these snacks.
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And remember, as the holiday stresses tend to pile up there is no better therapy than heading to the field with a shotgun for a brisk walk. Be safe, have fun and finish 2013 in Ultimate Upland style.

2012 Gift Guide for Bird Hunters

There’s a little something for everyone on the Ultimate Upland wish list for bird hunters. We’ve put a lot of gear through the wringer to come up with a number of products that we believe uplanders will truly enjoy.

Pachmayr Snap Caps
Snap caps are cheap insurance for a stored shotgun. These little buggers allow you to safely dry fire the weapon and relieve hammer spring tension. They make a great stocking stuffer and are an afterthought that many bird hunters don’t already own. Get a set or six in multiple gauges. ($9.98 set of two) Click here.

 

The Benchmade Custom Griptilian Knife
There may be blades more appropriate for breaking down birds, but being able to design your own knife in real-time online makes this Benchmade a must-have. You can choose from 12 different handle colors, three blades, different pocket clips and component colors….. the possibilities seem endless. After you have the knife formatted to your liking you can upload text and graphics to have lasermarked on the blade. (Of course we suggest “Ultimate Upland” and our pointing dog will make perfect additions.) We like the drop-point straight blade with thumb stud in hi-vis orange for starters. The custom order takes at least 3 weeks, so get your order in today. ($125) Click here.

 

Wigwam Socks
Wigwam has been around for over a century making socks in the US — and they have become very good at it. We’re fairly certain you can’t go wrong with any of their styles because the quality standards are extremely high. Our feet have sported Wigwam all season long without complaint in all kinds of conditions. We like the Hiking/Outdoor Pro ($12.99)  and the Merino Comfort Sportsman ($15.99).

 

 

 

The SportDOG TEK GPS + E-Collar
The trend toward technology is a turnoff for many traditionalist bird hunters. So it was with some hesitation that we strapped the SportDOG TEK on our young setter Rio this fall. The anxiety of becoming a slave to technology soon faded. This collar gives you the confidence to allow an inexperienced dog to explore, make mistakes and realize for themselves the value of proximity to the gun. And it removes the stress of losing the dog; the 7-mile range insures that you’ll be able to collect even the most wayward explorer. There are a number of unique features which set this collar apart, but the ability to separate the trainer from the GPS and the vibrate on-point alert are two of our favorites.($499 / $399 for the GPS sans trainer). Click here.

 

Prois Women’s High Plains Brush Pants
So much for women having to fend for themselves in upland gear. Prois has quickly become the premier maker of hunting gear for the fasting growing segment in the sport. And these upland pants have all the hallmarks of quality that will take a beating and last for years. Better still, they get the seal of approval from our favorite female gunzel and owner of Starr & Bodill African Safaris, Britney Starr. So we know they have to be great. ($139.99) Click here.

Enter promo code BSTARR at checkout and receive 15% off!

Checkout Britney’s other holiday
gift recommendations 
for the outdoorswoman.

 


 

 

 

Winchester Super-X Super Pheasant Shells
You can never have too much ammo. We’ve long been fans of copper-plated shot for bird lethality. Though Winchester has named their latest offering Super Pheasant, don’t hesitate to use the #6 loads on all medium to large upland game. We actually prefer the 2-3/4″ shells which we’ve found highly effective at reaching out to the long flushers. But if you want to amp up the distance and impact, shells are available in shots size 4-6 and come in the 3″ variety as well. ($18.99 box / $179.90 case) Click here for 12ga or here for 20 ga.

 


Smith Optics Aegis Echo
The importance of eye protection in shooting sports is often overlooked. And the peril to sight is real. Designed for tactical applications, the reason the Aegis Echo got our attention was the extremely light weight and minimal contact points which make them perfectly comfortable for long walks in the field. And the interchangeable lens PivLock system is easy and fast. The flat frames allow you to wear ear protection over the glasses so they’re great for that round of clays too. ($105 for 3 lens combo) Click here.

 

Timex Watches
We like having the backup to the backup to the backup when we’re in the field. And these Timex watches incorporate a compass which can help return you to camp or car if your GPS, smartphone or sense of direction falters. An Expedition series hasn’t left my wrist in over two years of hunting in every imaginable condition and is ‘still ticking’ as billed. If you like digital we suggest the Expedition Digital Compass ($75).  But if you prefer analog the Intelligent Quartz Tide Temp Compass will also let you know exactly how cold it is when the birds are holding ($170).

 

 

 

Grouse Feathers by Burton Spiller
This book is a classic that was first published in 1934. There’s no better way to get some perspective in the off season than to listen to Spiller recount the heydays of Ruffed pursuit. It’s a fast read, even available in Kindle version. ($16.55 paperback/ $12.62 Kindle) Click here.

 


 

Cabela’s Unlined Deerskin Gloves
When afield we like leather gloves that have balance. We need maximum feel and functionality so that we can click off the safety and pull the trigger. But gloves still need to provide enough protection to remove sand spurs from the dog and help weasel our way through thorns in the grouse woods. These deerskin gloves strike that good mix. Here’s a quick tip for once the gloves get good and scuffed; spit in the palm and rub it in really well. It helps to make the leather a little tacky which improves the grip on the gun and thumb safeties. ($25.99) Click here.


 

 

Blackwood ExPro for the Dog
One of the best ways to keep your bird dogs at peak performance is to make sure they are getting the best nutrition. Blackwood makes ExPro in small batches from the highest quality ingredients to get a food that is 33% protein and 23% fat; a fitting meal for a four-legged athlete. Use it as a supplement with your current food to help bump up the daily calorie count for your hard working canine friends. ($54.96 for qty 4 5lb bags) Click here.


 

 

 

Mud River Traveler Duffel
You’re going to need a place to stow all your new gadgets. We like keeping our bird hunting gear consolidated in a heavy duty bag, so we can pull it out and go hunting at a moment’s notice and know we’re not leaving anything behind. These blaze orange duffels are hi-vis, water resistant and nearly indestructible. They come in three sizes, be sure to get one for the dog’s gear too. ($57-77 depending on size). Click here.

If you use promo code MR12 you can get an extra 15% off your Mud River purchase through 12/17/12.

 

And if you already have everything else on the list, then it’s obvious the thing you truly need is another bird dog. We suggest you contact our friends at Jornada Setters to add a Llewellin pup to the family. Or Mountain Star Kennels can hook you up with one of the most stylish bird dogs in the country from the lines of top IRWS Runnie.

Have a Happy Holiday.