After four decades of hunting, you know when the gear you are wearing works and when it doesn’t. This past Friday while I was woodcock hunting in the woods of Ohio, I really felt that everything I was using was spot on. The morning temperature was 29 degrees and gradually climbed to about the low 40s. The land we were hunting had been clear cut about 7 years ago and the saplings were very thick. A large part of the sapling stand had some amount of standing water. The briars were thick in some areas and the brush was everywhere. There was a time when I even saw the English Setter having a hard time getting herself untangled from some of the undergrowth.
The first item we will look at are my boots.
I have been hunting in Danner Grouse boots for ages. I start the bird season on September 1 with a week or two in Kentucky dove shooting and I have these boots on every day. I then use them all season for upland hunting. I bought them with enough room to put in a Danner insole insert and still have room for a good pair of socks. The boots are made in Portland. The Gore-Tex has never let me down and as long as the streams I wade are not deeper than the boot is high, I am in good shape. The stitch-down sole construction adds durability for kicking logs, rocks and whatever comes your way. Because they are constructed using the stitch-down method versus a glued sole, I can have my favorite boots re-soled when the time is needed.
The next item to talk about are socks.
These Fox River Trailhead socks are some of my favorite. The Merino wool is a soft, non-itch wool that keeps my feet warm and provide a lot of cushion. I made sure when selecting my boot size that I could fit in a thicker sock. If I could not fit a pair of the Trailhead socks, I would probably go for the Trailmaster sock. When I am dove shooting in the hot September weather, I wear the Euro sock which is a CoolMax sock.
Here comes the body armor.
This is my pair of Filson Double Hunting Brush Pants. I have been wearing these for ages; probably about eighteen years. The suspenders have never been taken off and the only thing I do to care for them is….nothing. I can plow through the worst briar patches without looking where I am going. The bottoms are getting frayed and I have been thinking about running some leather around the hem. I think this coming summer I will apply some Filson Oil Finish Wax. I say that, but who knows if I will get around to it? (I did just reproof my Filson Waterfowl Coat: after 13 years I felt like it deserved it.)
Back to the pants; buy them big and hang them with suspenders. Under my brush pants, I wear an old pair of super comfortable Mountain Khakis Teton pants that have a rip in them. I also have worn Patagonia Capilene Lightweight pants or ThermalWeight, depending on the activity level.
I know you are not suppose to wear suspenders and a belt, but I need something to hang a multi-tool from. This Filson belt is probably twenty years old and I wear it almost every day. I do apply some Filson Boot Oil to this belt every once in awhile.
This is my Swiss Army SwissTool that I take on all of my hunting trips and other travels. It is very sturdy and constructed of stainless steel. With 27 tools, I know I will be ready for whatever happens.
I did not take a photo of my Petzl headlamp, but that is another item I do not travel without. I can’t tell you how many times I use this item each week.
This Patagonia Capilene Lightweight top is probably one of the most important parts of my hunting outfit. This garment performs just great. It is comfortable against the skin, breathes very well and wicks moisture away from the skin. I can’t say enough about this as a baselayer.
This is a Patagonia Capilene Midweight Zip-neck top. I like this over the Capilene Lightweight layer to provide a little warmth on a cool morning. The zip-neck can be pulled up for warmth or down to let body heat escape if needed. I found that over the last three weeks, I would shed this layer about late morning.
I wear my hunting shirt over the two layers of Capilene. This shirt is constructed of a heavy twill to brush through the brush and of course some bright blaze orange.
This is an old Filson hunting vest that was handed down to me. It has front and rear game pockets. There are pockets for shells and all the other gadgets that come in handy in the field. The one downside of this hand-me-down is that is does not have blaze orange on it. My cap and shirt probably do the trick, but I would like even more orange. When you are in the really thick woodcock/grouse woods, tons of orange is the order of the day. We work so hard for just a flush and I do not want to have to hesitate on a shot because I can’t see my hunting partner.
This vest does have a secured inside pocket for my vehicle keys. I would not own a hunting garment without a specific place for keys. It is not good enough to have your keys in a pocket with other items. If you are rooting through your pockets and the keys accidentally fall out onto the forest floor, have fun trying to find them four hours later.
This model of vest is no longer made, but Filson does make an Upland Hunt Vest with great blaze orange sections, double front pockets like my vest and the super important interior zipped security pocket.
Shooting glasses are a must in the woodcock and grouse woods. This past trip I had a thorn branch smack my glasses and I thought without these glasses my eyeball would have been scratched for sure.
These shooting gloves have seen a lot of action. They do not provide any warmth, but provide great grip and help when going through the heavy brush.
Hey, look what I found in the pockets of that hunting vest! Everyone needs a little bit of energy to keep you plowing through the briars.
Your blaze orange hat is very important. Look at the saplings in the background and you can see how thick it gets.