I’m in the field with my 2 best friends, Texas, a springer spaniel, and Jim who I spend 45 days a year out in the wilds with. We’re in Eastern Oregon in October, upland hunting, he is with Maizy, a yellow lab.
The dogs are working hard to get scent in 30 mph wind. The clouds are high and sprinkles make it down occasionally. We split the hunting “beat” in 2 and walk the first side 15 yards or so from each other and will walk down the other side on the way back. This is big country for only 2 men and 2 dogs. We laugh and agree that there could be 5 men and 3 dogs and it still would seem like a small hunting party for this land.
These fields have pheasants, quail, hungarian partridge and chukar. It is a treat to have so many types of upland game birds. My favorite are the huns, closely followed by the quail. But I love them all.
The spaniel is 7, in his prime and energetic. His 3 blind retrieves save the day. Pheasant, quail and chukar all blind, using his nose and digging them out.
He has earned his dinner. Burrs in his ears, under his legs and in his tail, he looks at me with a bloody chin, cut on reeds, with eyes imploring me to get moving. So I do. He is a tireless hunter, born into a line of champions. He is a hunter and an unusually grumpy springer, but he is my partner.
Upland hunting like so many outdoor pursuits has specialized gear that oftentimes is accumulated over years. It takes time to find the right boots or leash for the dog.
The Orvis-Toughshell waterproof upland pants are specialized and relatively expensive. But they are water and thornproof. They keep me safe when hopping barbed wire. I did manage to puncture them, but aquaseal saved the day. They have belt loops, zipper pockets and buttons on the cuff to help keep burrs and water off the socks.
I carry a Franchi Instinct for Huns Pheasants, Grouse, quail and chukar. It is a field grade over/under and it is not an expensive shotgun, but it has all the beauty of an Italian shotgun and is very reliable. I shoot about 100 shells per month through it at sporting clays and carry it from September to January for upland hunting.
Today I have the bottom tube choked with Improved Cylinder and the top tube choked with Modified. It works well – all the birds we take will be eaten by me and friends and the meat is in perfect condition.