December 18, 2020
Here’s a quick list on great gear for the upland bird hunter on your gift list.
Double-Duty Dog Collar
Never before has the team of man and dog hunted so efficiently as it does when using a Garmin Astro 320 or Alpha 100 dog collar and tracker. As with other e-collars, you can use them to train your pooches, but these models offer so much more, including a color GPS tracker with 100K topography and live tracking via the training collar.
You can run up to 10 dogs on the Astro and as many as 20 on the Alpha, but most importantly you can look over the parcel as you hunt it and see how well you've covered the prime spots. Miss a low cattail swale? Head back and send in the dogs. Didn't do justice to the northwest end? Reload the gun and go push the corner.
We've all mapped parcels in our heads and assumed that we covered them adequately. Now we have the ability to know if we did or not. (Astro 320, $599.99; Alpha 100, $699.99; garmin.com)
For simplified remote scouting, the advent of mapping apps in recent years has proven to be a boon for hunters. One of the best available is the onX Hunt app, which can be used on a phone, tablet, computer or GPS. Aerial photography with 24K topography offers clear visuals of potential hunting grounds, so hunters can investigate before ever stepping foot on the land. The boundaries for public and private lands are also clearly marked, and landownership info is available for those wishing to make a permission ask.
Maps can be downloaded and used offline, and customized waypoints can be added afield if you run across something noteworthy. With all these features, you’ll be retiring your old paper plat books in no time. ($29.99 for one state for a year; $99.99 annually or $14.99 per month for all 50 states; onxmaps.com)
The Danner Vital is where comfortable hiking boots meet technical hunting boots. This excellent upland offering is lightweight, well cushioned and keeps your feet dry. The sole is built for superior traction on fall hunting terrains. ($120; danner.com)
The new JaegerPair drop-point hunting knife and gutter from Outdoor Edge will hack through tough bones of either big game or upland birds, and the blunt-pointed gutter will take care of the entrails without puncturing the squishy parts. ($25; outdooredge.com)
Carhartt might not be the first brand you associate with upland hunting, but the company's hard-wearing canvas and simple functionality has made it a favorite with hard-core bird hunters. The simple Upland Field Vest has all the pockets and features you need. ($59.99; carhartt.com)
If you don't want to have to worry about switching between lead and non-toxic depending on your destination, go with a single non-tox load. Federal's new MeatEater bismuth loads are pricey but effective. (from $70 per box; federalpremium.com)
Just as the revolution of affordable and hyper-accurate rifles has changed the expectation of entry-level deer hunters, a new wave of affordable, capable shotguns is on the way, led by Savage's 555. It's a well-balanced and fast-swinging over-and-under that can handle every upland task you throw its way. ($679; savagearms.com)