With a helicopter rise at the flush preceding its zippy horizontal flight for yonder, a long tail that’s distracted more than a few hunters to miss and a cackle that mocks when you do, this gaudy bird reigns the world of upland bird hunting. So popular is this bird in the vast plains of the Midwest that opening day is legitimate cause to skip school, work, church and afternoon college football. If you’ve ever been to an opening day in Pierre, South Dakota, you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about.
Most often a club or family activity, with lines of hunters on one end of a grain field and blockers on the other walking toward each other to “squeeze” the birds to flight and high-flying vertical shots coming fast and furious. You can also hunt them solo or with a best friend or two, long walks in good edge cover for the singular flush here and there … but add in a high-tailed English pointer or a close-working flushing cocker spaniel and you’ll have days afield you’ll never forget.
For more information, see our friends at Pheasants Forever.
The Basics: What is Upland HuntingThe term Upland isn't as easily understood as say waterfowl hunting or deer hunting. Upland refers to non-water fowl game birds such as Doves, pheasant, grouse, quail and others. Upland hunting can be done in a variety of locations but is most often depicted and done in open fields. This environment provides thick ground cover for the birds which is why many upland hunters bring along trained bird dogs. Hunting dogs help flush the game out of the brush and into the air, many dogs will also retrieve the downed birds.
Safety First when Upland HuntingBefore you can take your friend or family member out into the field it's important they understand safe and lawful hunting procedures. They will need to take a hunter's education course where they will learn all about firearm safety, hunting fundamentals, conservation, as well as hunting laws and regulations. Start an online hunter safety education course for your state at Hunter-ed.com. This course will teach them all they need to know, but it's always good to go over safe firearms handling and hunting procedures with your buddy before and while afield.
https://youtu.be/1I1o4t0xUA0In this video, NSSF offers a few upland hunting safety reminders that will help ensure your next day in the field is a safe and enjoyable experience. The video offers experienced hunters a quick review and is the perfect tool for introducing newcomers to the rules of the field.
Upland Hunting GearAlong with safe firearm and hunting practices, the proper gear is also important to ensure a safe hunt. If this is your friend or family member's first-time upland hunting they will likely need to borrow some gear or at least need some direction on what to buy before going out. While upland field clothes aren't essential, brush pants, quality outerwear and a good vest can go a long way. Clothing that is essential however is items that are Blaze Orange, whether that's a hat, vest, jacket or all three blaze orange plays a large role in each hunters' safety. Blaze orange allows hunters to see one another and safely be afield. Read more about the gear that will help make your upland hunt more successful. Also, check out some of the latest women's upland apparel that is practical and stylish.
Upland Game RecipesIf you decide to take someone hunting it's also nice to help them see their game from field to table. Hunting provides an ethical source of local and natural meat. Try out some of our favorite upland game recipes like grilled Dove poppers, quail and wild rice casserole and wild goose and pineapple stir fry. Ask your friends and family members to come afield with you and share all the joys that hunting has brought you. Make sure they are prepared for a safe and ethical hunt with the proper hunters' education, licenses and gear. If just one in three hunters adds one new person to our sport, we’ll secure a strong future for generations to come. So be the one. Ignite the passion that can change the course of someone’s life forever.
Girls With Guns Highland CollectionOne of the most comprehensive new upland lines available for women comes from Girls with Guns. This small company was founded by women who love to hunt and shoot; dove season openers are an annual tradition and an inspiration for this collection. [caption id="attachment_2941" align="aligncenter" width="650"] Girls With Guns brush pants and 1/4 zip long sleeve field shirt[/caption] The Highland line offers a comfortable pair of brush pants in a soft twill fabric, their plentiful pockets edged with blaze orange and with heavier-weight camouflage fabric lining the leg to fend off dense brush. With an adjustable waist and inseam, these pants would fit a wide variety of body types very comfortably. [caption id="attachment_2940" align="aligncenter" width="650"] Girls With Guns Shacket[/caption] Paired with the pants is the 1/4 zip long sleeve field shirt in a matching camo pattern with quilted blaze-orange shoulders. The antimicrobial finish to the shirt and lightweight fabric make it a great layering piece that can also be worn alone on warmer days. I personally love the “Shacket,” a quilted oxford outer layer with polyester fleece lining that will be a perfect outer layer for mid-season hunts. It was too warm to try on my September opening day dove hunt and probably wouldn’t be warm enough for the coldest seasons, but it will have lots of use in between and at other times of the year, and not just in the upland field. [caption id="attachment_2939" align="aligncenter" width="650"] Girls with Guns field vest[/caption] There are two more pieces I found very useful. The blaze orange hat with the GWG logo offers a cooling sweatband that claims to cool up to 5 degrees and includes a hole for a high ponytail. The field vest boasts a very large game pocket that unsnaps at the top for easy unloading, the straps are easily adjustable and there are deep pockets that could each hold a box of shells. I was able to try out all these pieces on my grouse and dove hunt on opening day, and they easily handled heavy grass cover, kept off most of the burrs and fit comfortably all day. You’ll also be pleased to know that Girls With Guns offers an affordable price point and a wide variety of sizes.
Beretta Women’s Upland ApparelNot just offering fantastic firearms, Beretta also has a quality line of upland apparel, including several items specifically tailored for women. [caption id="attachment_2934" align="aligncenter" width="650"] Beretta Women's Retriever Field Vest[/caption] The new Women’s Retriever Field Vest has a large, front-loading game bag that can be completely opened to unload and wash. Front-loading vests make it easier to slip the birds in the pocket and keep moving through the field. Beretta has threaded the needle well, and this vest maintains very feminine styling despite the bulkier appearance front-loading vests possess when filled with birds. [caption id="attachment_2935" align="aligncenter" width="650"] Beretta Covey Field Pant[/caption] The Covey Field Pant is also new. It’s a classically styled brush pant with a water-repellent and anti-abrasion overlay that will protect legs in thick brush. Constructed of comfortable cotton, they will be best for hunting in mild climates or for early hunting seasons. [caption id="attachment_2936" align="aligncenter" width="650"] Beretta blaze orange yoke field shirt (left) and Daybreak Field Jacket (right)[/caption] Beretta also has field shirts (with blaze orange yoke or without in a simple hunting brown) as well as a beautiful Daybreak Field Jacket that provides warmth and water repellency and would easily transition from the field to town thanks to its beautiful design.
Prois Pradlann[caption id="attachment_2938" align="aligncenter" width="650"] New Prois Pradlann collection[/caption] Prois completely revamped its upland line this year to produce the new Pradlann collection. The company had previously offered an excellent brush pant that I’ve hunted in many times and loved, but the new Pradlann Pant looks to be a real hit. The pants utilize a performance stretch fabric with an adjustable waistband that provides an optimal fit for a woman’s body. The legs are faced in a rugged fabric for durability in heavy cover and water resistance, and they have a zippered vent down the side. The blaze-orange 1/2 zip pullover has also been redesigned. Updates include 40+UPF UV protection and a high-grade wicking fabric, making it perfect as an outer layer when it is warm, or a layering piece for later, colder hunts. Adding in Prois’ blaze-orange ball cap or its reversible beanie and you’re ready for the field (and rumor is the company will be adding a field vest to the line very soon).
Filson[caption id="attachment_2942" align="aligncenter" width="650"] Filson Three-Layer Field Jacket (left) and Women's Ultralight PrimaLoft Jacket (right)[/caption] This brand is renowned for its outstanding field and lifestyle wear. While it doesn’t offer brush pants or traditional blaze orange and khaki women’s gear, it has designed several women’s jackets for the field. The Three-layer Field Jacket is waterproof and breathable while still resisting punctures from briars or heavy brush. It has large shell pockets and a zippered rear game bag, making it extremely versatile in the upland field. Filson also offers a new Women’s Ultralight PrimaLoft hooded layering jacket that packs small and insulates even when wet.
Orvis[caption id="attachment_2937" align="aligncenter" width="650"] Orvis Softshell Hunting Jacket (left) and PRO LT lightweight hunting pants (right)[/caption] The famed outdoor gear and clothing company has several new products in its growing line of women’s upland apparel including the PRO LT lightweight hunting shirt and hunting pants, both of which include venting and wicking fabrics for early-season hunts. Orvis has also added a Softshell Hunting Jacket that features an extremely versatile wind- and water-resistant outer layer, a sound choice for moderate weather conditions.
L.L. Bean[caption id="attachment_2944" align="aligncenter" width="650"] L.L. Bean - Technical Upland Vest Pack[/caption] Bean’s Precision-Fit Upland Briar Pants are a smartly priced, comfortable pair of hunting pants. The adjustable waist band allows for up to 3” of give when layering for colder weather (or whatever reason you may need for a little extra space!). The front portion of the legs on these pants are almost entirely covered in a tough but breathable nylon all the way up to the hips, almost akin to a pair of chaps. They are extremely durable in the heaviest of cover. I have had these pants for several years, and they have always been comfortable and effective in a variety of field conditions. L.L. Bean also has a Technical Upland Vest Pack women will appreciate. Though designed as unisex, it’s a super vest for long days walking in the field. I have an earlier version that is a sling pack and love it due to its comfort, many pockets and ergonomic design. This new pack is similar enough that it looks like it will be just as effective as mine, and it has the benefits of being lighter and more breathable than the previous design. You may also be interested in: https://www.letsgohunting.org/articles/pheasant-hunting-gear/ https://www.letsgohunting.org/articles/hunting-with-dogs-etiquette-and-safety/
https://youtu.be/1I1o4t0xUA0In this video, NSSF offers a few upland hunting safety reminders that will help ensure your next day in the field is a safe and enjoyable experience. The video offers experienced hunters a quick review, and is the perfect tool for introducing newcomers to the rules of the field.
Hunting dogs make hunting better. They find more game, they get you better shots, and they recover downed birds that would otherwise be lost. And, it’s just fun to watch dogs work. You may own a dog of your own someday, but you’ll probably hunt over other people’s dogs first. If you’re invited on a hunt with dogs, there are adjustments you’ll have to make. The dog’s safety is everyone’s concern. A dog isn’t of any use if it stays behind the firing line, so you’ll have to learn some new gun handling habits. There’s etiquette to learn, too, and expectations to adjust. Not every hunt with dogs is a joy. Some are terribly frustrating. Learn to take it in stride. It may be your dog running wild someday. Basically there are four types of hunting dogs you may encounter.
Pointing dogs (English setters, German shorthaired pointers, Brittanys and may others) freeze when they get close to upland birds. Commercial lodges like pointing dogs because they create a controlled situation, allowing hunters to get into position before the bird flushes. Most pointing dogs retrieve, too.
Retrievers (Labs, Chesapeake Bay retrievers, etc) are used primarily for waterfowl hunting. They wait in the blind with the hunters until birds fall, then fetch them.
Flushers (spaniels, mostly, as well as retriever breeds like Labs and golden retrievers) roust upland birds out of cover instead of stopping to point them.
Hounds (beagles are the most popular) chase four-footed game big and small, usually baying as they go. You may hunt deer, hogs, mountain lions or raccoons with hounds, although it's most likely you'll hunt rabbits with beagles.
Here’s what you need to know to have a safe, successful, enjoyable hunt with dogs.
See safety and etiquette rules at Range365.com.
https://youtu.be/jcZOO5Zqrjc?t=10In this video, Professional dog trainer Bev Millheim offers some sage advice for dog owners that are getting their young dog ready for its first hunting season. Tough the tips are focused on retrievers the substance can be applied to any breed. If Fido will see it on opening day he should see it first in training. Good luck on your first hunt!