Segueing our interview series into gear, we want to know what kind of pack or vest you use and what else you keep in your hunting bag, kit, or in your truck.
Michael: So first, you should always wear blaze orange. Most places this is mandatory. Just because Ball and Buck doesn’t make one (yet - don’t worry, it’s in the works) doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wear one.
I've used quite a few different boots for Upland Hunting or just being in the outdoors in general. The boots that are my go-to now are Crispis. I really can't say enough about these. They are an Italian company. They are a little bit pricey, but worth every penny. They're durable and extremely comfortable. They give phenomenal support, which you need when hunting because the terrain can be rough. Sometimes you're walking in an open field, sometimes you're walking on softball-sized rocks where you need ankle support.
I've hunted from the border of Southern Arizona and Mexico to Colorado to Utah, all in the same boot. I wouldn't have another pair of boots. They've been phenomenal and through my hunts they have really done well.
I have a friend who is a guide in Arizona, and he has put over 1700 miles on one pair of boots. He puts on about 800 miles a year just through Upland Season, which to me is insane. For them to last that long, you know, there's something to be said about that. These Crispis are literally made to just put hundreds and hundreds of miles on them.
I wear our Ball and Buck 17oz Field Pants. Mark Bollman has a pair that's ten years old. I mean, he got off the airplane in Saint Louis and he's wearing these old Ball and Brush pants that look phenomenal because as waxed-cotton gets older and more used, it gets a patina that almost looks like leather.
We have people who see photos or come into our booth and see an old pair of pants and want to buy those. They are willing to pay double and triple what a new pair of pants costs because they look awesome. You have to put in some work to get a pair of good, waxed-cotton brush pants to develop that look of a nice patina.
Gear - What about what you’re keeping in your truck, your pack, your vest? All three.
When I'm Upland Hunting, I use a 20-gauge Browning Citori. It's not a super expensive gun but it's a great gun. It's tried and true and it's been proven in the field since I think 1973.
Double guns, or side-by-sides, or over under, are considered to be more of a sporting gun. That being said, more of maybe a gentleman's gun. You know, you only have two shots and then you have to reload. It's also kind of how these guns originated before they had semi-automatics.
There are tons of different guns you can use from all the popular names like Remington, Winchester, you know, up to Benelli, up to Caesar Guerini, Baser, Fausti, Purdy, Holland and Holland that are on the very high end.
I know you hit on the orange safety, so that's good for a newbie, right? That includes the safety element of the hunt. Anything else you want to add to your vest?
Michael - So it's not required everywhere, but it's highly recommended due to, ‘no one wants to get shot.’ And if you're in this thick brush or thick grass, trees, you can easily lose sight of someone. So, the orange vest is definitely recommended to help with visibility. That’s why a lot of Ball and Buck products have Blaze Orange Accents.
I personally use a game vest, made by Marsupial. There are numerous amounts of game vests or strap vests which help you carry your shells, water, GPS, whistles, you can carry whatever you need on your hunt. They are basically giant pockets and obviously, the main reason is to put your dead game in it. To put your birds and to put your rabbits, squirrels, you know, whatever you're hunting. You throw in the vest or in the pouch so that you have free hands and are walking around comfortably still because you may not be close to the truck or lodge or homebase. So, it's kind of just a necessity.
Again, I think the pack is extremely important, especially when you're hunting across many miles. Keep water in there for your dogs, for yourself.
The specific pack that I use, the company has lots of different options, so you can customize each vest to suit each hunter. I comfortably had 5 pheasants and a rabbit in my back pouch the other day and continued to walk very comfortably.
Awesome. Anything else you want to add regarding other gear that’s necessary for the hunt?
I always have a first aid kit in the truck.
And depending on how far we're hunting or where we're at, I'll take some first aid stuff in my pack, in the field for dogs, and obviously for myself or whoever's hunting with me. It's quite common for a dog or person to get scratched, cut, or poked in the eye, so it's good to be able to take care of that on the spot. Most importantly, just to get it cleaned.
But the crazy thing is these dogs are so resilient. I've seen dogs who have awful arthritis and limp around, but as soon as they get in the field, it's almost like they forget that they have it.
Going back to the dogs and the wild. It’s just what they're made for. I have puppies that are pointing at feathers because it’s in their blood and to be a part of that and to watch it unfold is pretty phenomenal.
I always keep water. Obviously, extra shells. Lots of guys hunt with a GPS system, especially if they’re on public land or land without trails. Basically, you're walking into the middle of nowhere.
Also, the GPS is hooked up a lot of times to the dog collars so that you can see where your dogs are in relation to you. If the dog stops for more than two seconds or three seconds, the GPS in your hand will actually beep, letting you know that a dog up there is maybe on point, so that you can head that way.
What else do I keep in my bag? Sometimes I keep hand warmers. I always keep a spare pair of gloves. I always keep a warm hat. You just never know what you're going to run into. Having lots of extras is important too, if you will, on the truck or in your vehicle just to make sure that if something comes up, you're well prepared.
I always know if I'm OK or if I need anything. But back to the dogs, you know, it's just making sure that as much as they love it and as tough as they are, to just making sure you're taking care of your animals. Because ultimately, without them, you know, you're kind of **** out of luck when it comes to Upland Hunting.