What I learned from a five-week road trip

A five-week-long hunting trip will test your organizational skills as much as your shooting abilities and dog’s stamina. All three are important, but sometimes it’s the mundane stuff that matters most. If you’re packing or planning for an extended trip, here are some of the lessons I learned, luckily not the hard way.
Everything in its place ... or I'll buy it here.
Everything in its place … or I’ll buy it here.
1. There really is a place for everything, and everything in its place. Pack, store, and organize your gear according to how and when it will be used. I have a “day bag” with the gear I’ll take when someone else is driving to a hunting area and I’m along for the ride. In the Amped toy hauler, dog food, supplements, etc. are near the dog crates, within easy reach when the day ends. I have a bag solely for foul weather gear; it stays out of sight and mind until the clouds open up.
2. Dogs function best within a routine, so anything you can do to maintain it on the road will ensure they remain happy and healthy. Regular waking and bedtime hours, a few training drills every day, a familiar crate to sleep in … all minimize anxiety in your hunting partners.
3. Plan for spontaneity. I know that reads funny, but leaving some holes in your schedule for unexpected opportunities, or simply to catch up with your work (or laundry!) keep your personal stress level at a manageable level. Example: I was at loose ends heading toward opening weekend in South Dakota, but a chance meeting at Cabela’s put me on beautiful ground with new friends.
4. Take your vitamins. Eat carefully. Get enough sleep. Drink plenty of water. Do I sound like your mother? Seriously though, the last thing you want is to catch a bug or be at less than your physical best on what is likely the trip of a lifetime.
5. Breathe deep. Be grateful for small miracles. Watch the sun set with a good Scotch and friends. Memories are made of much more than a full game bag.
Bird hunting puts us in beautiful places with good friends and loyal dogs. With a little preparation, the little bumps along the road never get big enough to worry about. Got more advice along these lines? Share it here.
See you down the road!