Get Started Upland Hunting
Upland hunting is a challenging, active and rewarding way to spend time outside. It’s challenging because hitting a flying bird with a shotgun requires a lot of skill. It’s great exercise as you walk for hours through brush and field in search of your quarry. And the reward of success is a tasty meal on your dinner table that you harvested. Even if you don’t see a bird, you’ve at least spent a wonderful day walking outdoors.
Things to Know Before You Get Started
Most states require a hunter safety course before you can hunt. Even if your state does not require this class, it’s a good idea to take one anyway. Attending classes and seminars by hunting experts is a great way to learn the ropes. These often occur at hunting expos and shows at your local hunting & fishing shops. Finally, there’s a plethora of upland hunting videos and articles online.
Getting to know an experienced and successful upland hunter with a trained bird dog who’s willing to take you under his wing is probably the best thing to ensure your fun, success and safety. They can take you out on pre-season scouting trips, help you identify good locations and get you comfortable working with a bird dog. They can also show you how to hunt safely with a dog and other hunters. Then, you can hunt together during the season for some “on-the-job” training.
Every state’s hunting regulations are different. It’s critical you become very familiar with the rules of your state. These include season dates, bag limits, open and closed areas, the types of licenses/permits you need and special regulations.
What to Wear and How to Carry Your Gear
Upland seasons—and weather—vary from state to state. This means you’ll likely need to prepare for a variety of conditions ranging from heat, cold, wind, rain, snow and more. Think about where you’re likely to hunt and do a little research on what kind of weather you’re most likely to encounter. Upland apparel is unique in that it is also your method for carrying your gear.
Like pants, shirts and jackets feature super-durable construction to help you fend off brush and briars. Jackets offer efficient organization for gear and game, including a game pouch to carry 3-4 upland birds and pockets to hold boxes of shells with ammo loops. Shirts feature reinforced elbow and shoulder patches and chest pockets for gear. Both are equipped with articulation to allow an unimpeded gun swing and mount.
These are also effective ways to carry your upland gear. They feature the same organizational features as a jacket. The way you choose to carry your gear is a personal decision; the best way to decide is to try everything out and see what feels best.
L.L. Bean used to say, “If your feet are happy, you’re happy.” That’s never been truer than when it comes to upland hunting where you’re likely covering some miles each day. Since you’ll be covering some miles, it’s crucial your hunting boots fit well and are exceptionally comfortable. Regular hiking boots because are fine as long as they are at least 8 to 9 inches high to ward off thorns and brush. Your boots should be waterproof and if you’ll be hunting in colder months they should also be insulated.
Upland pants feature a double-layer front to protect your legs from thorns, briars and brush. A reinforced cuff resists wear as you hike through tough underbrush and thorns. Some styles have a built-in waterproof membrane, a good choice if you hunt in wet climates.
Getting prepared before the season starts is probably the most important ingredient to success. You need to know where you’re going to hunt and be familiar with the terrain if possible. This is where you really need to lean on your buddy/mentor in order to be ready. Finally, you need to be as familiar with your gun as possible.
The best way to find good land to hunt is to go with your hunting buddy/mentor. This might be the most important ingredient of successful upland hunting. He or she can show their favorite spots/situations where they consistently find birds.
All the pre-season scouting in the world won’t matter if you’re not familiar with your gun and are not able to shoot it accurately. This is where you might need to be a little obsessive. Go to your local range and shoot skeet—also known as clay pigeons—as often as possible. Got a couple hours to kill? Go to the range. Even better, take a skeet shooting course with a professional instructor.
More Upland Gear to Consider
Whether you’re shooting at the range or in the field, eye protection is critical. Good shooting glasses will also protect your eyes from twigs and branches
A hat with Hunter Orange will help you stay visible to other hunters.
Shooting gloves offer protection while still allowing the dexterity to handle your gun. Most styles feature finger tips that are compatible with phones.
Occasionally people are unsettled at the sight of someone taking gun from or to their vehicle or house. A good case offers concealment and necessary protection to your valuable firearm.
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