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

The Upland Life

The upland life brings continuous joy to your author. Let’s take a look at all the factors that contribute to every breath I take, every hour I live and every hour I look forward to living. It’s a community with open doors and friendly faces.

Bird dogs. Dogs have been man’s best friend for thousands of years. A partnership that has helped evolve society. A partnership that creates a bond like no other relationship. We love them and they love us. The bond begins the moment we pickup a puppy and hold it. It’s love at first touch. The bond and love grows every day as we train our pup to be a reliable and well-mannered companion. The bond grows in leaps and bounds as the pup begins to show-off their natural instincts by pointing birds and perhaps naturally honoring a point. And we beam with pride as we slowly develop the pup to remain steady to the flush and shot. A human training partner comments on how stylish our dog looks on point and we again glow with pride. This pup is ready to hunt we say.

Ready to hunt means planning a hunting trip. We first need to decide what wild bird we will hunt. Planning a hunt is truly an enjoyable segment of the upland life. Do we travel to New England or the Great Lakes States for ruffed grouse and/or woodcock? Do we go south for bobwhite quail? How about the prairies for sharptail, Huns and/or pheasants? Or, if retired, do we try it all?

For ruffed grouse and woodcock, we can look at some very old and traditional hunting camps. Maine has hunting camps which have been in operation for over 100 years. In fact, I believe Maine developed the hunting camp concept. In the 1800s, hunting sports from New York and Boston were taking trains and then horse and buggy to river landings where they met their guide. And then, a very long canoe trip up the river to the sporting camp. From departure from the city to arrival at camp often took two weeks of travel. For the upland hunter, the sporting camp provides a feeling of security and camaraderie. We meet new hunters, make new friends, exchange stories, sleep well and enjoy great food. It may mean reading from a kerosine lantern and throwing wood on the fire frequently but we enjoy every minute we’re there. And, we bond even further with our best friend by having the pup in the cabin with us. Speaking of our best friend, we marvel as our dog attempts to figure out the mysteries of the ruffed grouse. The upland life is good.

Or, we may head for the prairies where birds are plentiful. The primary bird species you might be hunting are Huns, sharptail and pheasant. Many say that a week in the prairies will make a bird dog. We quickly are amazed at how our young dog adjusts to the wide open spaces. There are a few traditional hunting camps in the prairies, however, you’re often staying in a small strip motel in a small town. However, that’s not bad. That little town typically has a diner where all the farmers and local townspeople meet for coffee and breakfast. Prairie people are very friendly. They give you suggestions on where to hunt. In one small prairie town with one diner, a farmer would get up frequently and refill everyone’s coffee cup. He didn’t know us but that was okay. It’s fun to listen to prairie talk: Is it time to harvest crops? What will prices be this year? Why did you switch from wheat to beans? The upland life is good.

Leaving the Dakotas and Montana prairies, we head south to either Oklahoma or Kansas for bobwhite quail; and maybe a pheasant. The only difference between the Northern prairie states and the Southern prairie states is replacing Huns and sharptail with the bobwhite quail. Upland hunters easily become addicted to bobwhite hunting. Wild bobwhites flush hard, fast and in large coveys. Several years ago, at one of those little local diners, my wife and I were given an outstanding tip on where to hunt. We went there the next morning and had six large bobwhite covey flushes before noon. We were thrilled. The upland life is good.

The one consistent in all of living the upland life is your bird dog. The bond and love created is irreplaceable. The upland life is good.

Copyright 2022 Paul Fuller

Susan and Paul Fuller host the Bird Dogs Afield TV show. Their website is Contact: