I’m in the process of packing for the first extended bird-hunting trip of the season. I thought it would be interesting to list a few of the less obvious things I always take with me on these trips, and then solicit your essential items – since I always enjoy learning from you.

I carry a fairly extensive first-aid kit, but one thing I always keep in the bag are several syringes of an injectable antihistamine. Even though my dogs have the rattlesnake vaccine, an antihistamine can help stabilize a snake-bitten dog until you can reach a vet. Many guys carry Benadryl tablets for that purpose, but in the event of a snake bite I don’t want to mess with trying to get a dog to swallow a pill. Plus, an injection will go to work much more quickly. Talk to your vet about it.

And speaking of vets, I always make it a point to have the phone numbers of local vets handy when I’m hunting away from home. In an emergency that can save you precious time.

Here’s one I learned from a well-traveled hunting buddy of mine: If you’re hunting far from home, make up a bunch of lost dog fliers before you leave. No one wants to think about losing a dog, but it happens. If you can quickly blanket an area with fliers with a picture of your dog and contact info, chances are someone will eventually find your dog. And of course, it also goes without saying that your dogs should always, always have tagged collars on. That’s a no-brainer.

Bark collars. I learned this one the hard way. Even if your dog isn’t normally a barker, that can change quickly on a hunting trip when he’s taken out of his normal routine.

A pro-biotic. I’ve written about this one before. Color me a believer. I start feeding a few days before a trip, during, and a few days after. It helps tremendously with loose stools. And I’m for anything that helps with loose stools…

An extra collar (with tags), because sometimes they break.

An extra whistle, because sometimes you lose them.

Canned dog food, preferably the liquidy, gravy-type variety. My female setter is a hard keeper to begin with, and she becomes a notoriously poor eater on hunting trips. Mixing in a little wet food helps a lot with convincing her to finish eating.

Extra batteries for electronics that take them, and chargers for those that don’t. Yes, that should be obvious, but do you know how many times I’ve forgotten batteries and/or chargers. Which segues nicely into the next item, which is…

Instruction manuals for all your electronics, collars, GPS devices, etc. I know, I know, we should all be familiar enough with our dog electronics that we don’t need to consult the manual, for anything. But are we? I’m certainly not. I have a well-deserved reputation among my friends for technical incompetence, and last year on a hunt in Kansas one of my collars kept losing synch with the transmitter. It was a fairly new-to-me collar, and if I hadn’t had the manual to remind me of the synch procedure I might still be out there scratching my head.

So what are a few of those less obvious “damn, wish I’d remembered that!” items that you pack on your trips?