Bird Dogs Afield host Paul Fuller is the gun dog columnist for Northwoods Sporting Journal. The Journal has granted permission to re-print Paul’s articles. Thank you Northwoods Sporting Journal.

Northwoods Sporting Journal

Are You Ready?            

October…the magic month and it’s almost here.  Are you ready?  Here are suggestions you should consider before you hit the road for that much anticipated hunting trip.

First, let’s discuss your dog(s).  By now, you should have been running the dog everyday so both you and your dog are physically ready for the hunting season.  And, training should be over or perhaps just a finishing touch or two remains.  There are a few more details that might need attention.  How long has it been since your dog had a checkup with the vet?  A blood test and stool sample are a good idea.  Also, do a nail clip the day before you leave home.  And don’t forget dog food and water from home.  You don’t want to change either while traveling.  We fill several gallon jugs with water the dogs are used to drinking.  Check your canine first aid kit to make sure everything is fresh.  Replace if you’re unsure. How about a skid plate to protect your dog’s underbelly?     Then there is the support gear for our dogs.  Check all your e-collars.  Have they been freshly charged?  If they require a battery, do you have extra batteries?  We use a Garmin Alpha almost year around.  That means we replace a battery every year so we always carry a back-up.  How about your ID collars…are they in good shape?  Are your brass plates with your contact information in good condition?  Do you carry short 24” lead in your hunting jacket in case you need to lead your dog out of the woods?

Now let’s address your travel vehicle.  Get an oil change before starting the season.  How about your tires?  Speaking of tires, two years ago I had a blow-out deep in the woods in Northern Maine…and it was just getting dark.  I drive a RAM 1500 pick-up. The manufacturer supplied jacks for larger vehicles are simply inadequate on uneven ground. Fortunately, I learned many years ago to carry a large heavy- duty hydraulic jack. And, a few boards to put under the jack and one on top.  If you have trouble in the back woods, that jack will save the day.  Also, carry a small LED lantern for night-time work.  We also carry a bottle of glass cleaner and paper towels to help keep our windows clean.  The dust can collect quickly.  One more tip for the truck or SUV.  If you travel with portable crates or kennels, I strongly recommend you strap them down.  You never know when you might have to suddenly stop for a moose, deer, bear or logging truck.  Speaking about portable kennels, make sure the dogs have clean bedding…and bedding that will help absorb the shocks from a rough road.

We’ve taken care of the dog and your truck, now let’s talk about you.  Hopefully, you’ve been exercising with your dog and all is good with your health.  If you take prescription medications, make sure you have enough to cover a trip.  Check your guns carefully; everything in working order?  Plenty of shotgun shells for the season?  Are your shooting glasses clean and ready for the hunt?  How about a Peet shoe dryer for camp?  You’ll always have dry boots in the morning.  Here’s a tip you should consider.  I put single layer Scholl inserts in all my boots.  For me, I can really feel the difference in comfort.

And here are a few additional tips.  We always carry a pair of field glasses in the truck.  They can be very helpful watching game, birds or anything when you need a little magnification.  We also have several grocery store plastic bags stowed away for many different uses.  If we’re eating lunch on the tailgate, we put our trash in a plastic bag for storage until we can dispose of our trash.  If we stop at a rest area during our travels, we pick up our dog poop with a plastic bag.

I hope these tips are helpful.  And, I  hope everyone has a safe and rewarding hunting season.

Copyright 2018 Paul Fuller

Paul and his wife Susan are co-hosts of Bird Dogs Afield TV ( Paul can be contacted at t