|2001 at a Field Trial|
|Mearns hunting on the Opener 2019 Warm Weather|
|Shelby and me South Dakota. Temps 20's to 40's|
|Shack and me. Kuhl down jacket.|
A windproof, light jacket with layers underneath is a must. I have an Orvis jacket (above) with a cotton shirt and wool pullover sweater underneath. My normal leather gloves were replaced with gloves my kids got me for wet, cold weather- Gore Tex lined shooting gloves. I was trying them out- loved 'em. A friend gave me a Gamehide upland jacket and it works as well as the Orvis jacket, and has big pockets, game bag, etc. Broad-brim hat, sunglasses, and vest, of course.
I had to go to the "big hat" theme when they started cutting pre-cancerous stuff off me. Most old men that have had an outdoor life will understand. (Young bucks! Wear a big hat, sunscreen, and ear protection. Don't be an idiot.) I've worn one for many years- different types, shapes, and fabrics. My current fav is a crushable, felt hat that will take a lot of abuse and still look pretty good after I shake it out. Typically, it will travel rolled up in my backpack on the plane heading out to fish, but fill out immediately when I pull it out.
|BJ, my wife, and me. South Dakota|
|Ruby, Shack, me in Nebraska with Prairie Chicken and Sharptail (Kuhl hunting pants)|
|South Dakota 2017 (LLBean wool pants)|
Sunglasses: Back when my vision hovered around 20/15, and I thought I was bullet proof, I wouldn't wear sunglasses. Now, my vision is NOT 20/15, and, in fact, to sharpen near and far vision, I wear bi-focals when I hunt. It’s not a show-stopper during the day, to not wear sunglasses, but it sure sharpens things in the field. I finally chose WileyX. They are, literally, bullet-proof (well, close. They will stop a pellet to the eye.), they have all the UVA protections, are light, and stay in place. (And the old Ball-and-Chain likes the way they look.) Note: Be sure to get some yellow lenses for low light, cloudy days. They really lighten everything up. As I said, mine are prescription lenses. None of them are cheap, but I like my eyes, and seeing is a good thing.
Boots: I've been all over the charts with boots. Rubber, leather, combination. Hiking, bird-hunting boots, Kangaroo leather, hand-made, custom fit, smooth bottom, aggressive tread, straight last, curved last, lace-up, zip up, slide in. I learned one thing. If they work for you, wear them. I buy hiking boots. I've found that most "bird hunting" boots fit some guy's idea of what we should encounter walking around a southern quail plantation to shoot, then climbing back on the mule-drawn wagon back to the "big house" for a finger or two of good Bourbon before lunch. In other words, they can't handle a season of hunting 4 or 5 different landscapes around the country. My favorites for years were Danner Pronghorns, but I'd go through a a pair a year. Lately, I’m currently wearing a pair of "Crispi" boots I got at Scheels. Once again, they aren't cheap, but they won't make you rob a bank, either.
Does any of my fashion advice make me a better bird hunter? My dogs think so, but you can't listen to them. They think everything I say is wise and wonderful. (We gotta love them.) Clothing doesn't make the bird hunter. Whatever you feel comfortable wearing that will keep you cool in the warm fall weather and warm in the winter wind will work. Nobody that's been doing this for any length of time cares what anyone else is wearing- they only care about what keeps them ready for the flush, is light enough to wear all day, and warm enough to keep them alert and not thinking about how cold and uncomfortable it is. So, the proper clothing will enhance your hunting, while on the other hand, poor clothing choices will make for a miserable experience.
An old grouse hunter told me, "Randy, when you meet a guy in the woods, look at his gloves, boots, and pants. If his gloves are well-used and cared for, his boots are scarred, but in good shape, and his pants are clean, patched and well-worn, you are most likely looking at a guy that knows what he's doing, and what he's talking about." Like most advice coming from an old guy peeling an apple with a pocket knife, I thought it was worth passing on.