Waterfowling on the Cheap: Dogs

posted on November 17, 2009

There are so many ways to save on traveling costs that an entire article could be devoted to the subject. Suffice it to say, the more research and planning that goes into a hunting trip, the more money you stand to save. Here are some ideas you may not have considered.

When scouting for a group hunt, go in one vehicle. Obviously two vehicles can cover more country, but carpooling saves gas and it’s also easy to miss distant flocks when you have to keep your eyes on the road. If you team up, one person can concentrate fully on spotting birds.

If you develop friendly relationships with landowners, you can leave the truck parked and do a lot of your scouting by phone. Farmers and ranchers know their land intimately and can tell you exactly where they’ve seen the most birds. And they’ll often reserve their fields for your trailer. If you have a goose trailer and have paid attention to how much gas you burn towing it, you’ll know it’s far more efficient to leave it in your hunting area rather than towing it back and forth from home. A rancher friend lets me park my trailer by her barn, which is great since I only get 11 miles to the gallon towing it.

If you can do without a trailer, all the better. Full-body goose decoys take lots of space. Silhouettes like Real Geese take next to nothing. I can carry 12 dozen Real Geese, two layout blinds, dog, guns, gear and a friend, plus 16 greater Canadas on the return trip, all in my beater Subaru Forester. Snow and Canada goose hunters can save tons of space and weight with Prairie Wind Decoys’ Sillosocks, which are inexpensive, compress into nothing and add great motion to a spread.

You can fit 800 in the back of a pickup and still have room for everything else. While we’re on the topic of saving room, this year I’m going to try some NRA FUDs (Fold Up Decoys). Six FUDs go for about $25, line and weights included and come in a box only 11x15x3 inches. Made from what looks like stiff neoprene, they come flat and can be assembled into three-dimensional decoys in seconds, with various head and body positions possible thanks to hinged necks and stakes. Made for land or water use, they’re perfect for hunters short on space.

As for dogs, I have a wealthy attorney friend who, the last time I hunted with him, still carried his dog in a busted travel crate sitting in an open truck bed, with no insulated cover to keep the dog warm. He did buy a stand for the Lab, but he was too cheap to get a neoprene vest, despite the dog shivering uncontrollably.

Can’t tell you what he feeds him, but I can only guess it’s Ole Roy. Needless to say, the fact that his dog is awesome in the field defies logic and makes me wonder how much better it could be if properly treated. Hunting dogs are athletes who get subjected to all sorts of adverse conditions and upon which we rely heavily each season. This is one area where going cheap doesn’t do anyone any good at all.


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