It gets tougher every year for companies to come up with something truly innovative for the hunting market. “New” products are often little more than cosmetic refreshes on old themes. So, we’ve sifted through all the retreads to find those products that offer value, new technology, genuine improvements or all of the above to the upland hunter. Are they must-haves? You decide.
Irish Setter Ravine Boots: A Treat For Your Feet
“All-day-comfort” is how Irish Setter (irishsetterboots.com
) describes their Ravine Boots, light in weight but with good support and comfort from the Anti-Torsion Chassis that provides stability on uneven ground. They’re offered in seven-inch, non-insulated versions in composite build ($179.99) or all leather ($189.99), and in nine-inch non-insulated ($189.99) and insulated ($209.99) models. A large number of lacing eyelets help you customize their fit. The Ravines are waterproof, have a comfortable memory foam collar, and a specially designed tongue to baby your shins. The rubber sole provides excellent traction without being overly stiff. They look cool, too.
Sylmar Body Guard Dog Vest: In-Vestment in Your Dog’s Safety
Jerry Popelka had a problem. The tough, durable vests he always used on his hard-charging hunting dogs—vests he credited with saving thousands in vet bills, and possibly a dog’s life or two—were finally wearing out after years of service. The “new, improved” versions were cheap, poorly made imports. So, he sought out the original vest designer, then in his 80s, acquired his plans, and started his own company. The result is Sylmar Dogwear (sylmardogwear.com
), Jerry’s small, family-run company in northern Colorado committed to making the highest quality, best fitting dog vests and related products on the market. The Body Guard Dog Vest, for example, is available in three colors, eight sizes, with or without neoprene lining. They’re tough, visible, and can save your hunting pal from a trip or two to the emergency room. Find ‘em on the PF website from just $49.00.
SportDOG TEK 1.5 GPS Tracking + E-Collar: Hopping Good
Just what is HopTek technology, and why do you need it? It’s how SportDOG (sportdog.com
) incorporates Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum into their new TEK Series 1.5 tracking and training system. By reducing interference, it allows for higher transmitter output power, producing superior range performance. The TEK 1.5 pairs with the company’s proven TEK 2.0 collar, providing tracking and/or training of up to 12 dogs to seven miles. It has 99 stimulation levels, letting you tailor your training from the shyest to the most stubborn hounds. Not only will it track your crew via GPS, but it helps you navigate, too. At $549.95, it’s less expensive and infinitely more convenient than using separate systems for training and tracking.
Browning Lona Canvas & Leather Shotgun Case: Class Act
This elegant case harkens back to the days when fine shotguns nestled in felt-lined soft canvas and aged leather, not plastic and foam. Quilted, well-padded nine-ounce cotton canvas in black and brown is graced with leather accents and a sling-style adjustable shoulder strap. Brass hardware, including a double-pull zipper, adds to its good looks. A snap-closure side pocket contains loops for shells and/or choke tubes, distinguished with the iconic Browning Buckmark logo stamped in leather. Available in 48- and 52-inch lengths, the latter retailing for $89.99, you can tell your friends there’s a Purdey or Parker inside and they’ll believe you (browning.com
Carhartt Upland Field Pant: For Dirty Jobs. Like Hunting.
Known for toughness on the job, it makes sense that Carhartt would bring their no-nonsense durability and comfortable fit to the “job” of upland hunting. Priced right at $79.99 (carhartt.com
), these pants are a 60/40 cotton/polyester blend made rain-repellent with Rain Defender®. They have Carstrong® full-chapped front and half-chapped rear legs. A secure right-leg pocket holds your cell phone. The fit is relaxed and comfortable, with no limits on your freedom of movement. In Carhartt brown, they show that you take your job seriously.
Federal Premium® Hi-Bird™ 12-Gauge Shotshells: Say Goodbye, Bird
What upland hunter doesn’t welcome a little more lethal range from his shotshells? Federal (federalpremium.com
) has combined increased velocity (1275 fps in Hi-Bird standard, 1330 fps in high-speed) with a two-piece wad for maximum range, better patterns at long distances, and optimum penetration and retained energy. SoftCell™ wad technology has the added benefit of reducing perceived recoil. Hi-Bird™ shotshells are all 2 ¾” in length, offered in standard velocity 6, 7.5 and 8 shot configurations with 1 1/8 ounces of shot, retailing at $10.95 per box, and in 6 and 7.5-shot high velocity loads containing 1 ¼ ounces of shot at $12.95 per box. The lead shot is engineered for the best combination of hardness and density.
Garmin Vehicle/Handheld/Wristwatch GPS system: Never Lose Your Way. Or Your Dog.
) has created a GPS system for upland hunters and their dogs that will make lost dogs—or lost dog owners—a thing of the past. Start with the DriveTrack 70LMT ($399.99), an in-vehicle GPS with a large, bright display, preloaded with U.S. topo maps. On-road or off-road, it provides superb navigation. It will sync wirelessly with Garmin Astro 430 ($649.99) or Alpha 100 ($799.99) handheld dog tracking GPS devices, which allows you to pinpoint your bird dog’s location up to nine miles away. The slick new Garmin Fenix 5 GPS watch ($599.99) gives you even more dog tracking options, along with dozens of fitness and performance features. You’ll find overlooked hunting spots, spend more productive time in the field, and neither you or your dog will wonder where you are. Technology doesn’t get any better—or more useful—than this.
Orvis Women’s Upland Briar Pant: Field Fashion
Lots of ladies love to hunt. But they don’t want to look like men while doing it. Orvis (orvis.com
) understands perfectly, which is why they had women design and create this tough, functional yet good-looking pair of technical trousers. They incorporate European styling and German tradition with rugged faced fabric and nylon trim. There are two front pockets, two rear flap pockets, and one right-hand leg pocket with a built-in knife sleeve. Traditional olive in color, they retail for $219, but they’re often on sale.
Peet D’odoriz’r Module: Cure For Foul Feet
If the smell of your favorite hunting boots causes a gag reflex, call on the power of ozone to tame your foul footwear. The patented Peet D’odoriz’r (peetdryer.com
) uses ozone and molecular science to destroy odors, not just mask them with something equally smelly as sprays and powders do. Plug the device in to a 110V outlet (it uses less power than a night light), place it over your boots, and ozone molecules (O3) attach to and destroy odor-carrying oxygen molecules (O2). When not using the module for your boots, it will eliminate odors in any small area, which sounds ideal for certain popular rooms. Just $79.99, the Peet is safe for all footwear, is easily cleaned, and does its job in one to six hours.
Syren L4S Shotgun for Women: 12-Gauge Equality
Gunmakers have realized women represent one of the fastest-growing segments of hunting and shooting. But, their efforts at addressing this market are often little more than cutting down a stock or making it a “cute” color. Not Syren (syrenusa.com
), a division of Caesar Guerini and Fabarm that designs superb scatterguns from the ground up by—and for—women. The Fabarm L4S, a fine semi-auto that has become extremely popular with male bird hunters, has been redesigned with lighter weight (6 ¾ pounds), smaller pistol grip, Monte Carlo stock, and reworked cast at toe under the Syren heading strictly for women. Buy one for your lady—or yourself, if you happen to be a lady—for just $1385.
Editor’s Note: For additional new upland gear, check out the catalog inside the Fall 2017 issue of the Pheasants Forever Journal of Upland Conservation.