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Last Minute Holiday Gifts for Gun Dog Owners

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December 20, 2012

Last Minute Holiday Gifts for Gun Dog Owners

By Chad Love

With Christmas just a few days away, here are some last-minute gift ideas for the wingshooting, dog-owning person on your list. Or yourself.

Some of them I may have previously mentioned and am mentioning again because, well, I like them; others I just haven't gotten around to writing about yet. But all of them are things I have personally used and can recommend.

First up is L.L. Bean's technical upland pants. I tried them on a hunt in Montana and fell in love with them—hand-down my new favorite bird-hunting pants. They're light, fit well, tough where they're supposed to be tough, and stretchy where they're supposed to be stretchy. In the words of sexy Ned Flanders, "It's like I'm wearing nothing at all!" However, as comfortable as they were in the relatively thorn-free fields of Montana, I had my doubts they'd hold up to the vicious sandplum thickets back in Oklahoma. I was wrong. Halfway through our quail season and they still look great and perform flawlessly. At $109, they're not cheap, but good things rarely are.

All waterfowlers need a good headlamp for their myriad of pre-dawn tasks, and this season I've been using the Tri-Tronics NightRazor. It's waterproof (I inadvertently tested this out last weekend, and it is...), cordless, and once charged, boasts 180 lumens and four intensity levels that seem to last forever before recharging. The beam is extremely bright. You will have no problems at all shining other hunters out of your area, or frying your corneas, if you are so inclined. It's also pretty damn rugged, at least I haven't killed it yet. I believe it's made primarily for houndsmen, who are not known to be gentle and caressing on equipment. $199.

I am a big fan of strap vests, and the Filson Pro Guide Strap Vest—which I've been using for the first time this season—is quickly becoming a favorite. This vest is constructed of Filson's famous oil finish tin cloth, which means it's basically indestructible and will last forever. It's pretty darn no-frills: no water bottle loops or hydration bladder compartment, no complicated compression straps system; just a straightforward, functional vest. It has two large outside pockets that are divided with six shell loops on each side, and a handy zippered inside pocket. It has a cavernous game bag and tabs on either side just below the straps on which you can hang electronics. $195.

Most dog first-aid kits are the canine equivalents of "take two aspirin and call me in the morning." They're not totally useless, just mostly so. This one isn't. The Sporting Dog First-Aid Kit from Creative Pet Products is what carry in my truck, and with the exception of a few specialized items I've added, it's one of the most complete and useful kits out there.

If you're looking for a great, low-cost e-collar and you're not too concerned about range, I don't think you can find a better one than the SportDog Field Trainer SD-400. For $159, you get an expandable (up to three dogs) system with a 400 yard range, 16 levels of stimulation, tone, and a transmitter that's small enough to wear comfortably on a lanyard around your neck. It's an ideal yard training/obedience collar, or if you have close-working dogs.

Here's a great-looking, inexpensive and for-a-good-cause gift for the quail hunter in your life. The National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative is now offering a cool "singing quail" lapel pin that only costs $9.95. You can order it here. Proceeds go to help continue funding the critically-important national policy work the NBCI is doing to bring back bobwhite quail populations.

And speaking of good causes, one of the best gifts you can give to the upland, waterfowl and dog person in your life is a membership to your favorite conservation organization, whether it's Pheasants or Quail Forever, Ducks Unlimited, Ruffed Grouse Society, Delta Waterfowl or some other group. They need our help now more than ever...

Comments (4)

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

That bird in the photo looks like the two birds my dogs brought to me the other day for XMAS. Hunted them today in the snow, and was right in fresh tracks hunting sage bordering the AG field, but no flushes. "Should have been there yesterday."

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from spentcartridge wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

Thanks for plugging the NBCI, Chad. Hope you get a stocking full of the good stuff.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

I recommend a compression collar as a gift for those who don't have the big bucks but know someone who needs to handle a dog on a leash. Best thing since buttered popcorn.

How do those pants hold up to barbed wire fences? Wrecked a few jeans this year. I like the idea of epoxy reinforced hems. Carharts dungarees are about done for half way through the season because they fall apart at the hems. Damned shame to throw them away so soon.

Vests are a great idea. Bought one for my brother last year. However, this Filson's model is pretty pricey! I was very thankful I DID NOT have a strapped vest this year. Weather was horrible almost every day I hunted pheasants in Montana. Often brutally cold. My Walls vest is very functional, broke the wind well, and it's cheap. About thirty-five bucks if memory serves me. I'm not a great big fan of waxed or oiled cotton fabric. It gets dirty and you really can't clean it except wiping it down. Also, I'm not sure I see the need for "tin cloth" in something so skimpy. Anyway, one is generally not hunting uplands in pouring down rain. Regular cotton canvas would seem sufficient. One thing I don't like about the Walls vest, and I don't see on Filson's, is the mesh water bottle holders. I'm cutting them off of my vest. They are magnets for burs and weed seeds! The twelve shell loops in the Filson vest is about right. Many only have five. Game pouches are where most vests fall down. Inspect them closely before purchasing one. See if the seam at the bottom is sealed up with something. Very important! My vest had snaps for electronic antennas. Didn't know what they were for until now.

I prefer caps with LED lights built into the visor. No bulk and definitely have sufficient light. I walked out with my el-cheapo Walmart lighted cap many times during the last two years and sometimes several miles. Havne't changed the batteries yet! This is one of the most practical and affordable outdoor gifts you can pick up. Also great for plumbing work under sinks or working in tight places under the hood of the vehicle after dark. Helmets with lights on them tend to fall off when bending over, etc. Not nearly as nice for plumbing jobs. Also, lamps require "loading up" when needed. Not so handy when its snowing and blowing out and your hands are freezing! I use my cap's light to assemble decoys in the dark and it furnishes all the light I need.

When I was a kid I made key chains from empty shotshells that were pretty popular gifts. I "reloaded" the shell with a piece of doweling just the right length to fill it. Put a bit of epoxy on the top and bottom of the dowel and then crimped the shell closed. I usually left the primer out and sank a small screw eye into the dowel, then filled the primer cavity with epoxy. Best to do this with a real old empty casing as most of the shells manufactured today only use cheap steel painted with brass. As we all know, these will get rusty almost overnight. A 20 gauge 2 3/4 inch casing works best. Anyway, it's a nice idea for a stocking stuffer.

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from Trapper Vic wrote 1 year 16 weeks ago

Thanks for the NBCI connection as a member of Quail Forever I can appreciate all we can do to creat habitat!

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

That bird in the photo looks like the two birds my dogs brought to me the other day for XMAS. Hunted them today in the snow, and was right in fresh tracks hunting sage bordering the AG field, but no flushes. "Should have been there yesterday."

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from spentcartridge wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

Thanks for plugging the NBCI, Chad. Hope you get a stocking full of the good stuff.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

I recommend a compression collar as a gift for those who don't have the big bucks but know someone who needs to handle a dog on a leash. Best thing since buttered popcorn.

How do those pants hold up to barbed wire fences? Wrecked a few jeans this year. I like the idea of epoxy reinforced hems. Carharts dungarees are about done for half way through the season because they fall apart at the hems. Damned shame to throw them away so soon.

Vests are a great idea. Bought one for my brother last year. However, this Filson's model is pretty pricey! I was very thankful I DID NOT have a strapped vest this year. Weather was horrible almost every day I hunted pheasants in Montana. Often brutally cold. My Walls vest is very functional, broke the wind well, and it's cheap. About thirty-five bucks if memory serves me. I'm not a great big fan of waxed or oiled cotton fabric. It gets dirty and you really can't clean it except wiping it down. Also, I'm not sure I see the need for "tin cloth" in something so skimpy. Anyway, one is generally not hunting uplands in pouring down rain. Regular cotton canvas would seem sufficient. One thing I don't like about the Walls vest, and I don't see on Filson's, is the mesh water bottle holders. I'm cutting them off of my vest. They are magnets for burs and weed seeds! The twelve shell loops in the Filson vest is about right. Many only have five. Game pouches are where most vests fall down. Inspect them closely before purchasing one. See if the seam at the bottom is sealed up with something. Very important! My vest had snaps for electronic antennas. Didn't know what they were for until now.

I prefer caps with LED lights built into the visor. No bulk and definitely have sufficient light. I walked out with my el-cheapo Walmart lighted cap many times during the last two years and sometimes several miles. Havne't changed the batteries yet! This is one of the most practical and affordable outdoor gifts you can pick up. Also great for plumbing work under sinks or working in tight places under the hood of the vehicle after dark. Helmets with lights on them tend to fall off when bending over, etc. Not nearly as nice for plumbing jobs. Also, lamps require "loading up" when needed. Not so handy when its snowing and blowing out and your hands are freezing! I use my cap's light to assemble decoys in the dark and it furnishes all the light I need.

When I was a kid I made key chains from empty shotshells that were pretty popular gifts. I "reloaded" the shell with a piece of doweling just the right length to fill it. Put a bit of epoxy on the top and bottom of the dowel and then crimped the shell closed. I usually left the primer out and sank a small screw eye into the dowel, then filled the primer cavity with epoxy. Best to do this with a real old empty casing as most of the shells manufactured today only use cheap steel painted with brass. As we all know, these will get rusty almost overnight. A 20 gauge 2 3/4 inch casing works best. Anyway, it's a nice idea for a stocking stuffer.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Trapper Vic wrote 1 year 16 weeks ago

Thanks for the NBCI connection as a member of Quail Forever I can appreciate all we can do to creat habitat!

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

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