WON Landing Page OCT 2022

5 upland bird hunting essentials for woman’s best friend

As an avid upland bird hunter, it is important I keep my prized German shorthaired pointer, Chippewa Gracie’s Molteno Storm, healthy, happy and ready for our next hunt. An exceptional dog, Storm is more than a pet, more than a tool and more than an accessory in the field. She is a friend and my dearest hunting companion. Here are 5 essential gear items I use to keep that special bond between my 4-legged friend and myself, and to keep us both ready for our next adventure while upland bird hunting.

Huntress April Mack, of Oregon, understands the bond between woman and dog. April hunts regularly with her German wirehaired pointer, Bone Point Jinx. To April, “Having a strong bond with your dog is essential to a successful hunt. You need to be able to trust each other so you (both) can concentrate on the job at hand.”

Mud River Magnum Hoss Food Bag 


(Michelle Bodenheimer photo)

Traveling with a sufficient supply of food for Storm has been problematic. Most bags and storage containers fail to keep food contained, usually tearing and spilling everywhere. The Mud River Magnum Hoss Food Bag, however, makes this generally inconvenient task manageable.

This water-resistant laminate bag stores up to 30 pounds of dry food. The roll-top closure helps keep food in, while a zippered compartment on the bottom of the bag provides convenient storage for food and water bowls. The storage compartment also creates a flat base, helping keep the bag upright and preventing it from spilling over. Although the Magnum Hoss Food Bag is priced on a bit on the high side, the durable material resists tearing, unlike most competitors on the market.

Available in both orange and green, the Mud River Magnum Hoss Food Bag can be purchased directly from Mud River’s online store, as well as from most major outdoor retailers nationwide.

MSRP $42

Mud River Dog Handler Bag 


(Michelle Bodenheimer photo)

Not only must I pack a bag for myself, I also must pack a bag for Storm before each of our hunting and training adventures. Between training bumpers, check cords, e-collars and remotes, towels, brushes and treats, I am amazed at how much “stuff” a hunting dog requires. Fortunately, the Mud River Dog Handler Bag keeps Storm’s gear reliably organized.

True confession: From time to time, I also use the Dog Handler Bag to transport my own gear on an overnight get-away.

The Dog Handler Bag is made of a heavy-duty water resistant shell with a double reinforced, water-resistant bottom – keeping gear dry and protected from the elements. The bag’s multiple storage pockets are well placed, and its doctor’s-bag-style opening provides easy access to all contents. There is nothing worse than having to take everything out of a bag in order to reach 1 or 2 items tucked away in a corner. The design of this Mud River bag helps avoid having this problem! A padded-shoulder strap also makes for comfortable carry.

The Mud River Dog Handler Bag is available in brown or Realtree Max 5 and can be purchased directly from Mud River’s online store, as well as from most major outdoor retailers nationwide.

MSRP $53 to 65, depending on color selection

SportDOG Brand SportHunter 825 E-Collar 

SD-825 Combo V1

(SportDOG photo)

Although Storm is well trained, I appreciate the security of using an electronic training collar. The SportDOG Brand SportHunter 825 lives up to my high level of expectation, providing me a reliable means of communicating with my dog in the field.

The SportHunter 825 provides both versatility and dependability in all conditions. The collar’s DryTek waterproof design has held up to continued abuse presented by rain, snow and numerous water retrieves. The battery takes 2 hours to charge and will hold a charge between 50 and 70 hours, depending on frequency of use. Not once have I had the battery life fail in the field.

This e-collar extends up to a ½ mile, providing me control over my pointer when I set her to work in the field. The comfortable handheld remote quickly switches between stimulation, tone and vibration allowing me to communicate with Storm as necessary in each situation we face. The SportHunter 825 is easily expanded to control up to 3 dogs by adding SportDOG Add-A-Dog collar receivers.

The SportDOG Brand SportHunter 825 electronic collar is available directly from the SportDOG Brand online store, as well as from major outdoor retailers nationwide. Click here to find the retailer nearest you.

MSRP $204.95

Dokken Deadfowl Trainers 

Dokken_Deadfowl_Trainer_Pheasant copy 2

Storm takes modeling very seriously. (Michelle Bodenheimer photo)

Between hunts, I work with Storm to keep her in prime condition and to ensure her continued cooperation in the field. The Dokken Deadfowl Trainer series provides realistic training dummies just right for the task. These training dummies present a lifelike weight and feel, helping teach a dog how to properly carry birds of varying sizes.

The Dokken Deadfowl Trainer series includes lifelike ducks, geese, and almost all species of upland game birds. The Trainers’ hard, free-hanging head helps discipline aggressive shaking. Although I own several Deadfowl Trainers, my favorite is the pheasant — likely, as this is my favorite upland species to hunt. Storm and I regularly train with the pheasant and I am continually amazed by the dummy’s ability to hold up to the abuse of heavy field training.

Dokken’s Deadfowl Trainers, including my favorite Dokken Deadfowl Pheasant, are available at most major outdoor retailers nationwide. Click here to locate a retailer near you.

MSRP $25.99 for Dokken Deadfowl Pheasant, other models vary by price

Musher’s Secret


(April Mack photo)

A few years ago, I learned the hard way that I must condition Storm’s sensitive pads before we take to new terrain. Halfway into a hunt in Central Oregon, the poor girl simply stopped hunting and refused to carry on. After close inspection, I realized she had torn open each of her pads on the rough lava rock covering the canyon we explored. This was a difficult and painful lesson for both of us to learn, as I was forced to hoist Storm over my shoulders and carry her back to my vehicle. Shortly after this terrible experience, I began using Musher’s Secret, an all season treatment to help protect a dog’s sensitive paws from the most extreme conditions.

This 100%-natural, food-grade wax product was first developed to help protect Canadian sled dogs’ paws from wear and tear. The dense wax is intended to create a breathable barrier over sensitive pads, while still allowing dogs to properly perspire between toes. Musher’s Secret helps protect from ice-build up, snowballing, cuts from sharp ice and snow, sand and sandburn, and hot pavement. It also softens the skin, making it more pliable and resistant to tears from sharp rocks and rough terrain. The wax is easy to apply by simply rubbing into the exposed skin of a dog’s paws. I now coat Storm’s paws before each outing, helping prevent injury in the field.

Musher’s Secret is available in 3 sizes – ranging from 60 grams to a 1-pound canister, and can be purchased at select retailers nationwide. Click here to find a retailer near you.

MSRP $14.95 and up, depending on size


(Todd Bodenheimer photo)

“Whoever said diamonds are a girl’s best friend never had a dog!”

  • About Michelle Whitney Bodenheimer

    An experienced huntress, Michelle Whitney Bodenheimer has pursued big game, upland birds and waterfowl throughout North America and Africa. Although Michelle loves to hunt and shoot (both rifle and bow), her biggest passion in life is sharing her love for the outdoors with others. Michelle is the dedicated gear review columnist for Women’s Outdoor News, in a column called “Her Gear.” Michelle’s writings and photography also have been published in a number of outdoor journals, including On Target, Lady Angler, The Gun Dog Journal, The Shooting Channel and African Hunting Gazette. Michelle has been a repeat contributing guest on Outdoor GPS,a live hunting and fishing television program broadcast on Comcast SportsNet NW. When Michelle is not writing, she is serving her time as an outdoor educator. She is an active volunteer for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) Outdoor Skills Program. Her primary responsibilities with ODFW are serving as a shotgunning coach and dog handler/guide for ODFW’s upland bird hunting clinics. Michelle also teaches regularly for Women in the Outdoors (WITO) and Becoming and Outdoors Woman (BOW) programs. She serves on the Pro Staff team for Cabela’s, as well as for the NW Ladies Hunt Camp, an educational outreach program hosted in conjunction with the NRA’s Women on Target Program and Extreme Desire TV, and is a member of the field staff for Próis Hunting and Field Apparel for Women. A current member of a number of national conservation organizations, Michelle is a life member of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundations, as well as a life member of the National Rifle Association. She also served as a past director for the Southwest Washington chapter of Safari Club International. Take caution, however, if Michelle invites you along on a hunt. Having been stalked by a cougar and attacked by a cheetah, she tends to live life a bit on the wild side.