Set Your Dog Up for a Successful Hunting Season

By Nick Simonson

Hunting without a dog is just a nature walk with a shotgun. For all the work that our four-legged friends do in the field, having them covered before, during and after a hunt to ensure their safety and comfort is as essential to successful hunting as ammunition and a good pair of boots. Runnings has all the canine gear to get your hunting buddy ready for the season, to keep things moving in all types of cover and terrain, to deal with in-field emergencies as they arise and to fuel high performance.

Gear Up

Of all the modern equipment available to hunters and their dogs, perhaps the most important is an electronic collar. For preventing wild sprints on a puppy’s first hunting experience, to tracking and locating a veteran dog in hot pursuit of a running pheasant, electronic collars from brand leaders such SportDOG and DT Systems provide options across a number of models to help train and control dogs in the field. Models like the Delta Upland XC from Garmin also provide pointing options which beep or set off other noises to let hunters know when a pointing dog has stopped and is locked up on a bird in cover.

In places on the prairie with heavy or hard-hitting cover such as buckbrush that hold sharptailed grouse, or those alder thickets and tangled branches of the Northwoods where ruffed grouse reign supreme, chest protectors such as those from Gamehide and Cuga help keep rubbing and scraping injuries to a minimum and add some color to a dog for hunts that coincide with deer seasons or for general visibility. For waterfowlers, floating jackets like those by Avery help with water retrieves and pull double-duty in keeping dogs warm on those chilly days at the edge of a slough. Gearing dogs up with the right clothes can be as vital to prolonging a good hunt as a great pair of field boots or waders. Additionally, Runnings has a wide selection of kennel options including covers and shields to keep man’s best friend in his best condition to and from a hunting destination.

Be Ready

In the field, dogs can cover up to five times more distance than the hunters working behind them. No single factor is more important to sustaining their pursuit than proper hydration, especially in the early upland seasons where temperatures can be warmer, and conditions more taxing on animals. Having a water source in the field is key to keeping hunting dogs in top form. Sport bottles with collapsible attached cups provide a compact water source which doesn’t take up much space, is easily deployed in the field and can be stored quickly when the hunt picks back up. More conventional options, such as bowls, water containers and the like can be stashed in the truck for use after each leg of the hunt. When temperatures begin to exceed 70 degrees, consider resting dogs and holding off until things cool down, or waiting until the following day to go out and watch for cues like heavy panting, and general weariness in your dog and remember it’s always better to call a hunt off early than it is to be calling a vet for heat-related issues later on.

Minor field injuries can also occur, and everything from a cactus needle in a paw pad to a scrape from an encounter with a barb wire fence can be dealt with on the fly with a compact first aid kit containing items such as tweezers, gauze, field tape and other items to remedy minor issues. Assemble your own based on hunting conditions or select a commercial option and keep it in a vest pocket for easy access throughout the fall and address immediately any concerns that arise in the field. It’s a good idea before the season to get the phone number of not only your dog’s regular veterinarian, but also the number for one in the area you’ll be hunting, and program them into your cell phone in case bigger issues arise.

Feeding Time

Finally, Runnings has all the rewards and nutrition necessary to keep dogs coming back to the field each day and each season at their best. These quick hits of food and energy make great rewards for a job well done, especially in young dogs learning the game and give them a quick shot of calories to stay on the move. Be generous with the praise and prizes each time a bird is brought to hand this fall by a pup after a summer of training, and to keep older dogs at their best.

Additionally, Runnings has a wide selection of food to help keep dogs in their finest condition throughout the season. As added energy is required from September to December for these hard-hunting companions, consider mixing in high performance dog foods. Be certain your hunting buddy is getting the calories necessary to sustain the field work they love to do.

Stop in at your local Runnings today to get all the gear needed for a successful season, starting with the e-collars and field clothing to keep them close and protected. Add in a hydration system and the right snack and food mix, and you’re certain to have an exciting fall afield, with less nature walks and more birds in the bag, thanks to your four-legged friend and the expert staff at Runnings.