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

Season Preparation

The month of August is part of the Dog Days of Summer. However, not for the upland hunter and bird dog enthusiast. There are many activities to keep us busy prior to hunting season. Let’s take a look at those activities.

Although staying healthy and in shape should be a year around project for both dog and hunter, August should be the premier month for reaching fitness goals. Both human and dog should be getting exercise every day. If it’s hot, run your dog early in the morning before leaving for work. It’s unfair to take an out-of-shape dog hunting on opening day. Get off the couch and get outside. If you and your dog are in shape, hunting season will be much more enjoyable.

Part of being in-shape can be accomplished by searching for new coverts in August. Young birds are flying so no need to be concerned about your dog catching chicks. For the past twelve years, I’ve been filming August training sessions on wild birds in Northern New Hampshire. Birds are plentiful, and it gives your dog a great opportunity to sharpen his or her skills before actual hunting. Plus, you’ll discover new coverts for the hunting season.

Make the search for new coverts fun. Research maps for old logging roads. My wife and I have a goal of adding at least two new coverts every year. This search will always produce new views of woods and waters throughout your hunting area. Plus, seeing wild game such as moose, bears, eagles, etc. is always a bonus.

Dog food adjustments are always made in August at our home. Meeting dog owners across the country, I’m often asked how much food we feed our dogs. It’s a good question. Recognizing that all dogs are different, there are standard guidelines for feeding based on weight and activity level. A premium dog food, such as Native Performance Dog Food, will deliver 400 calories per cup of food. A working dog requires 27-30 calories per pound per day. For example, if your dog weighs 40 lbs., (range 20-50 lbs.) it needs 1200 calories (30 calories x 40 lbs. = 1200). That means your 40 lb. canine athlete requires three cups of food per day that delivers 400 calories per cup. During the off-season, we feed Native Level 2 which delivers 380 calories per cup. In August, we switch to Level 3 which delivers 440 calories per cup. Dog food scientists recommend the switch to the higher calories begins at least 30 days before the increased activity.

Another August activity is preparing your gear and truck. Regarding gear, are those hunting boots still in good shape? If you need a new pair, get them now. You don’t want to slip on a new pair of boots on opening day. Has your hunter orange cap faded so badly that it looks yellow? Time for a new cap. The past two years, there has been a shotshell shortage. If your inventory is low, now is the time to begin looking for shells. Is your shotgun in order? At the end of last season, did you say: I need to take this gun to a gunsmith before next season”? But, you never did it.

Don’t forget your truck. If you’re planning a trip to the prairies with a September 1 opener, you’ll be leaving late this month. For your author, it’s a very long trip. Before departure, my truck goes to the dealership for a complete checkup with an oil change. Imagine a break sown along the way with a truck full of dogs, shotguns and gear. It wouldn’t be pleasant.

How about hunting licenses? If you’re hunting multiple states, buy your license early. It will be one less worry as the season opener approaches. Today, all licenses can be purchased on-line.

Good planning will make for a much more enjoyable hunting season. Good luck!

Copyright 2022 Paul Fuller

Paul Fuller and his wife, Susan, are hosts of Bird Dogs Afield TV show. All past episodes are available on his website: Contact: