I’ve come to the depressing realization that my upland season has more than likely come to an end. I look so forward to spending time in Michigan’s North Woods every fall and this season was one of the best I’ve ever had. Although, I don’t equate “success” with bag limits or shooting birds at all, for that matter. Nope, I hunt for the memories. Plus, my friend, Brian, over at Ultimate Upland figured out that one pound of woodcock meat costs the average hunter roughly $564, so I’m clearly not doing it to save money on my grocery bills.
This season, I was fortunate enough to try out a few products that really made life easier while busting brush in pursuit of ruffed grouse and woodcock. And believe me, all of the products listed below went through EXTENSIVE field testing and passed with flying feathers, er … colors.
1. Eddie Bauer – Mabton Flats Vest (Not meant to be used as a flotation device.)
As part of my extensive field testing, I decided to fall into a bog while hunting “Swamp Grouse” with my above mentioned friend, Brian. I’m not talking “stepped into a puddle and got water in my boot,” either. Fell. In. Into the abyss. Down. Anyway, the Mabton Flats vest is definitely a great staple piece for any lady uplander. Definitely not intended to be used as a flotation device but it IS made of cotton duck canvas/530-denier polyester/nylon with a durable, water-resistant finish.
Ladies, this is not your daddy’s hunting vest. I love how it’s cut to fit a women’s curves and it also allows for unrestricted arm movement when shouldering your gun. The only downfall to this vest is that it lacks a water bottle pocket or holder. I ended up putting my dog’s water bottle in the bottom of the game pouch, which was not convenient. I do like how the game pouch top zipped off completely to allow for easy access to your birds when it’s time to clean them.
I really do think that this is a great staple piece to any upland huntresses closet. Retail $169.99. This vest is made to last you many, many seasons in the woods.
2. Próis Hunting & Field Apparel — High Plains Brush Pants (Also good for climbing on big rocks.)
New for 2012, Próis continues their women’s-specific attention to detail with the High Plains Brush Pants.
Made out of cotton/poly base and heavy-duty Cordura facings, these pants are rugged and will hold up to any upland cover. They have an adjustable waist and cam-strap/ladder lock mechanism for perfect fit.
Adjustability also means room for movement, which is key both while in the woods and climbing up to my favorite “thinking place” after a long day of hunting.
Convenient boot zippers make lacing up your boots a breeze. There also is a one-inch overlay on the zipper, snaps at the bottom to keep sticks and leaves out AND an elastic drawstring to keep the pants tight to your boot, if you so choose. My favorite feature is the Cordura scuffplate that is added to the inside seam at the bottom of the pant leg, for extra durability.
Retail $139.99 and available in both olive and khaki.
Enter promo code BSTARR at checkout and receive 15% off!
3. TriTronics — Sport Upland G3 EXP remote trainer/beeper collar.
Okay, so this isn’t exactly a “women specific” product but I absolutely could not function in the grouse woods without it. This collar has so many features, I don’t even know where to start, so I’m going to list a few of my favorites.
- Waterproof transmitter and receiver
- 1/2 mile range
- Compact, TOUGH and dependable
- Remotely operated beeper
- 10 levels of momentary and 1o levels of continuous stimulation with a dial to allow quick level changes
- A neutral setting to avoid accidental stimulation
I put this collar through the paces up in the North Woods this season and I couldn’t be more pleased with its durability. It held up in every condition including rain and also proved its waterproof claims when my dog took a swim in the lake while wearing it. I find the beeper portion of this model imperative, since we are hunting in very thick cover. Sometimes it’s even difficult to see the dog when he is 20 yards in front of me and the last thing I want to do is bust in on a bird when he’s on point. I also love the fact that the beeper is controlled with the remote, as it makes for a quick shut off of the beeper when we stop for water breaks.
4. Eddie Bauer — Kettle Mountain Waxed Jacket (Perfect for pumpkin pickin’, skeet shootin’ and bird huntin’.)
It was love at first sight for me and the Kettle Mountain waxed jacket. As soon as it arrived I absolutely couldn’t wait to try it out so I wore it to the pumpkin patch. It wasn’t the nicest of pumpkin pickin’ days and actually was raining for most of the time I was outside. The waxed cotton finish gives the jacket a water repellent finish and I stayed nice and dry.
Since this jacket is actually supposed to be for bird hunting, I did wear it under my Mabton Flats vest during grouse and woodcock season when the weather turned chilly. I found it warm, comfortable and easy to shoot in. I busted a lot of brush and loved how the jacket stayed briar free. The belt is a nice detail for every day use and can be easily removed for hunting, if you so choose.
Now that my upland season is over, I am currently wearing this jacket when I shoot skeet, which I do quite frequently. The design and fit allow for unrestricted arm movement (this seems to be a trend with Eddie Bauer, and one that I certainly appreciate) both upward and forward, which is obviously key to shooting. I also love the deep shell-pockets and their tuck-in flaps that make it easier for me to load my shotgun quickly. I’ve received several compliments from male members of my club on the quality of construction and fit of the jacket, and I’m sure if any women shot skeet with me they would love it, too.
I really can’t get enough of the Kettle Mountain waxed jacket. I’m a fan of the water-repellent, waxed cotton and that coupled with its great fit and quality construction makes this coat a winner in my book. It’s become a staple piece in my wardrobe. Retail price $279.99.