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projectupland.com On The Go
9 minutes | Aug 3, 2021
A Beginner’s Guide to Dressing for Upland Hunting
Wearing an oversized camo jacket, a generic blaze orange hat, and awkwardly carrying a borrowed youth 20 gauge, I walked into the lobby of the local trap club where the participants of the Eastern Oregon Women’s Pheasant Hunt were gathering. It was clear almost immediately that I was not the only newbie; if not from the other neophyte’s nervous shuffling, then from their attire. Only the women who had attended the event in prior years seemed to know how to dress for the occasion. Over the next two years, I began to experience firsthand the frustrations of trying to find upland hunting apparel for women. My husband, who has a tall, lean build, also was having difficulty finding durable clothing that fit properly. Together, we discovered some invaluable hacks that I am eager to share with fellow newcomers.
19 minutes | Jul 14, 2021
Lesser Prairie-Chicken ESA Listing Proposal Highlights Unmet Goals, Need for Voluntary Private Land Management
It's one of the most dreaded announcements a North American government agency can make: a species has been proposed to be listed under the Endangered Species Act. The announcement that the lesser prairie-chicken had been suggested by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to be re-listed was painful but not unexpected. According to the USFWS, it's estimated that the species’ range has been reduced by as much as 90% from its historic dispersal.
9 minutes | Jul 12, 2021
How to Choose a Pair of Hunting Gloves
Hunting gloves are, perhaps, one of the less considered items in our kits. I’ve personally been on a quest to find a solid, all-around glove and have been met with mixed results. They all work for some applications, but I have struggled to find a general-purpose glove that checks all of the boxes. The “boxes” I look to check are fit (including any break-in period), which is affected by material, insulation/warmth, dexterity/tactility, and protection. For example, there are typically trade-offs in tactility where insulation is concerned. The more insulated the glove, the less tactility there tends to be, especially as it relates to operating finer mechanisms or buttons on your gear. There are other considerations that we will unravel as well.
11 minutes | Jul 7, 2021
Protect Your Dog from Overheating and Heat-Related Illness
A vast majority of hunting dogs in North America start their seasons with temperatures that can reach the 90s in the early season. Those same dogs may end their seasons by hunting in wind chills 10-20 degrees below zero. That is more than a 100-degree swing over the course of a working season. Emma was certainly one of those dogs who would start with early-season dove and grouse hunting and end the year on late-season ducks and pheasants. When asking a dog to work in such extremes, it is vital to understand your dog, the weather, and what to do should they experience the extremes of hyperthermia or hypothermia.
14 minutes | Jul 6, 2021
Trying it on for Size: The Tom Beckbe Tensaw Jacket
In many ways, that day set me on a course for what has become the obsession of my middle years. The Tensaw jacket lodged itself in my mind as a symbol of the old school appeal of all things upland, mingled with vague memories of my grandfathers’ hunting attire, and was a reminder of the joy of that first day at the quail hunt—trying things on for size, both figuratively and literally.
23 minutes | Jun 21, 2021
An Over-Under Shotgun History Lesson
A hundred years ago, side-by-sides were built by hundreds of makers. Some cost less than a good week’s wage, like the Belgian-made “Highly Engraved Diana Style Breech Shotguns” sold by Sears. Others, like an extra-finish pigeon gun from James Purdey & Sons, cost more than a new house. Back then, over-unders were around, but they were scarcer than wild grouse are today in New Jersey. So what happened? Where did all of today’s O/Us come from? Compared to side-by-sides, are they any better? Or are over-unders just—you’ll die if it’s true—fashionable?
13 minutes | Jun 17, 2021
History and Overview of the Ruger Red Label Shotgun
It was the same story each time we visited the Olathe Gun Shop in Kansas. As soon as he entered through the front door, my father would walk towards the over-under shotguns. There, neatly displayed upright, were a variety of stacked barrels. To the upland bird hunter shopping for a new shotgun, there were plenty to choose from. However, for my father there was only one that stood out: the Ruger Red Label. This time, his hands would carefully grab the shotgun’s forend to admire it one more time before taking it home. He had been saving for months. The time had come to purchase his first over-under.
16 minutes | Jun 10, 2021
Expansion of CRP Will Support Upland Bird Populations
A staple of American conversation is likely to see a resurgence in the early years of Joe Biden’s Administration, as U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on April 21 changes to the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).
18 minutes | Jun 3, 2021
21st Century Access: The MAPLand Act Looks to Revamp Archaic US Mapping System
There are a few pieces of legislation making a comeback in the early months of the 117th Congress, but one particularly holds a significant amount of weight to advance outdoor recreation and conservation in the first quarter of the 21st Century: the MAPLand Act.
11 minutes | Jun 1, 2021
Conservation and Hunting in North America's Grasslands
North America’s sea of grass once covered an area from Illinois to Wyoming and Canada to Texas, touching or encompassing around seventeen states. This “Great Plains” grassland ecosystem is most simply divided into three ecotones: tallgrass, mixed grass, and shortgrass. Within these ecotones there are many ecosites, such as the Sandhills of Nebraska or the Flint Hills of Kansas. These ecosites occur on gradients of longitude, precipitation, and soil.
8 minutes | May 27, 2021
Safe Air Travel with a Firearm and Ammunition
With spring in full swing and summer just around the corner, many hunters are planning their fall and winter hunting trips. While most excursions will take place in their home state or surrounding states, some will come to a crossroads: do I fly or drive for that hunting trip several states away? There are certainly benefits to both, but flying always raises some concerns for our beloved firearms.
11 minutes | May 20, 2021
USFWS Releases Largest National Wildlife Refuge Expansion Proposal in U.S. History
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released a new proposal to expand hunting and sport fishing opportunities on 90 National Wildlife Refuges (NWRs) and one National Fish Hatchery, encompassing 2.1 million acres. It is the largest proposed expansion in United States history and adds to a list of expansions beginning in the George W. Bush Administration.
10 minutes | May 18, 2021
How to Acquire Furred Animals for Dog Training
If you own a bird dog, you’ve heard the adage that “it takes birds to make a bird dog.” Regardless of advances in technology and training devices, you can’t avoid the fact that it takes real birds to teach a dog about the expected behaviors while on a bird hunt. Finding suitable birds can be a challenge, which often leads to side projects such as housing your own pigeon flock or building quail recall houses. Versatile hunting dogs that will be used to hunt small game or track big game come with additional training needs beyond just the birds. Finding suitable furred animals or blood for tracking brings a whole set of unique challenges and considerations.
11 minutes | May 14, 2021
A Puppy Buyer's Guide to Finding a Bird Dog
There are a lot of dogs out there. It doesn’t take a master internet user to find someone, somewhere that has a litter from which they’d love to sell you a pup at almost any price you could imagine from innumerable (and potentially questionable) lines. A brief foray into breed-specific or hunting Facebook groups will quickly dissolve any illusion that there are universally-practiced ethics and procedures around dog breeding. It’s a lot of information to digest if you are new to buying dogs and it can be overwhelming when you’re trying to get oriented.
12 minutes | May 13, 2021
Porcupine Quills and Dog Encounters: A First Aid and Avoidance Guide
My Wirehaired Pointing Griffon worked the cover 50 yards ahead of me, his bell sounding gently in the warm, opening day of the ruffed grouse season in New Hampshire. We had hiked a mile and a half to get to a section of early successional growth that we had mapped out months before this moment of enjoyment squeezed between meetings on a busy Thursday schedule. My peaceful wait for the silence of his bell was shattered by the sudden eruption of yelping. I sprinted forward through the thick grouse habitat to get to him, my first thought being that he may be caught in a trap, and he could hurt his leg trying to get free. To my greater frustration, my path was intercepted, face to face, by a porcupine. I would love to say this was the first encounter with those needle pigs but I should have added my dog’s nickname is “porcospino.” It may be a curse of “versatile” gun dogs, but in his defense, he is usually steady on porcupines. Despite how prepared I felt myself to be for pulling those quills one by one from my dog’s face and mouth, this day rocked my worldview.
22 minutes | May 4, 2021
The Sage Grouse Crisis has Reached Critical Mass
Throughout the rural sprawl of the American West, the sagebrush ecosystem has slowly been disappearing, replaced by invasive annual grasses and conifers. With it, sage grouse are disappearing, too. According to new data from the U.S. Geological Survey first reported by the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, there are 80 percent fewer male sage grouse at leks compared to 1965, an annual loss of roughly three percent–one percent more than what was previously believed. Further, half of that loss has come in the last 17 years. This report highlighted five reasons sage grouse are in a steeper decline: habitat conversion to cropland, energy development and mining, conifer intrusion, climate change, and cheatgrass fueling more and hotter fires.
9 minutes | Apr 27, 2021
Truffle Hunting With Your Bird Dog
Training and conditioning are top priorities for the off-season, but it can be fun to mix up the routine a bit to avoid boredom and to continue developing the working partnership between you and your dog. If you’re fortunate to live in an area where truffles grow wild or are cultivated, learning to truffle hunt with your bird dog can be a fun and rewarding activity.
14 minutes | Apr 22, 2021
Defining a Gun Dog
Hunting dogs are as old as the hills and guns have been around since the 1300s, but the idea of hunting with dogs and guns together didn’t really catch on until nearly two centuries after firearms first appeared on the battlefield. And even though the words dog and gun both trace back to the 14th century1, they weren’t combined to form the term "gundog" until the mid-1700s and didn't become part of the common vocabulary until the mid-1800s.
19 minutes | Apr 19, 2021
Irish Water Spaniel: A Versatile Dog Breed Indeed
Is that a Doodle? …No, it is an Irish Water Spaniel. I thought water dogs were from Portugal? …It is a spaniel. Oh, a Portuguese Water Spaniel! …No, an Irish Water Spaniel. Are you sure it is not a Doodle? It looks like one. …I’m sure. This common conversation is one way that you can tell that your 65-pound, curly brown gundog is a rare breed. But the Irish Water Spaniel was once the third most popular hunting dog in the U.S. When the founders of the American Kennel Club established the AKC in 1878, this common dog was included as one of eight breeds that could be registered—all of which were gundogs.
10 minutes | Apr 13, 2021
Determining the Age of a Quail from Wing Feathers
Hunters throughout the uplands walk many miles each season in pursuit of various quail species. From the bobwhites in the Southeast, Gambel’s and scaled quail in the desert Southwest, Mearns and mountain quail in the hills, and California quail throughout the west, several million birds are shot on the wing, loaded in game bags, and eventually cleaned and consumed. Sure, most hunters will note the sex of each bird harvested, but there is one more piece of data that is often skipped by most hunters: aging their birds. For many game birds, distinguishing between juvenile and adult is fairly easy, and quail are no exception. In fact, quail lend themselves to determining the actual hatch date of a juvenile to within just a few days of when the bird pipped its way out of a quarter-sized egg. This information can add a bit of scientific fun for an upland junkie, but can also be useful information to help explain previous reproductive output and possibly even help guide future habitat management.
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