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

What to Pack            

What to pack? This month’s column is a product of a recent email. The email sender wrote that, this October, he was taking his first trip to the North Maine Woods (NMW) for ruffed grouse. Beyond the toothbrush, he asked me for suggestions on what to pack and how to prepare. It’s a good question and makes for a good column for this month.

The North Maine Woods (NMW) is a huge piece of property; three and one-half million acres huge. In certain areas, you can drive all-day long and not meet another vehicle. Susan, my wife, and I hunt all over the country and Canada; however, we never miss spending a week in October in the North Maine Woods.

Let’s first discuss your vehicle. Make sure it’s been serviced and checked for any problems that might develop. There is no cell phone service (except at a limited number of commercial camps) so if you have vehicle troubles, you could sit for a very long time. Make sure you have a good tires…Kevlar if possible. And, that includes carefully checking your spare tire. The stones and rocks you’ll encounter easily cut tires. Also highly recommend you carry a hydraulic jack. And, a board that fits under the four wheels of the jack. Plus, a good under the truck light for changing tires in the dark. In your truck, you should have a tow rope, axe (or electric chainsaw) and lopping shears.

Due to the remoteness of the NMW and due to an emergency dog injury last year, we’ve decided we definitely need a personal locator device. After much research, we’ve decided on a Garmin In-Reach Mini. No matter what our location, we’ll have communication with the civilized world. That’s a very comforting thought. It’s our understanding that many of the people working in the woods have given up their satellite phone for the Garmin In-Reach Mini. We won’t leave camp without it.

How about the dogs? Yes, going remote means taking extra time thinking about our hunting buddies. First, find the nearest vet to the NMW gate you’ll be using. If you have a dog injury emergency, you don’t want to take time to search for a vet. Have their telephone number handy. For lesser injuries, carry a canine first aid kit. Google exactly that and you’ll have several choices. Make sure you carry plenty of water…for both you and your dog. We run three dogs. Each dog is run once in the morning and once in the afternoon. They’re offered water after each run. If it’s an exceptionally warm fall day, we carry bottled water in our vest; for both us and the dogs. We never give our dog water from a camp faucet…nor do we drink from a camp faucet. We always use bottled spring water. Also, when you pack dog food, be sure to add for an additional day or two. If a snow storm or hurricane comes through and blocks the roads for a few days, you don’t want to be short on dog food. The last comment on dogs: when hunting in big unknown country, always use a GPS collar on your dog…always! If you’re concerned about both you and your dog, then something similar to a Garmin Alpha would work well. If you’re just worried about your dog, then the Garmin 550 Plus will work very nicely.

Always pack a gun cleaning kit when traveling for a hunt. I’m not suggesting you hunt in a downpour; however, a little rain has never stopped us from stepping into the woods. Hunting season is too short to give up hunting time to a little bad weather.

If you’ve rented a housekeeping cabin (no meals served), plan your meals carefully. Susan and I always stop at the last grocery store before getting to the camp. That keeps our groceries as fresh as possible before the long journey through the woods.

Travel and hunt safely this fall.

Copyright 2020 Paul Fuller

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