Why Are Some Uplanders So Stubborn?

July 28, 2011 | By | 5 Replies More

Sometimes we feel that talking to our upland brothers (some of them – and not as much our upland sisters) is like talking to someone from another century.

We for sure get the brisk fall air, love of the birds, good dog work, respect for tradition and whatever else you want to throw in that upland basket. But we absolutely don’t get some folks’ stubborn resistance to new things that’ll improve their hunting.

Is this a reflection of the average age of upland hunters? That probably has something to do with it. (To ensure the future of this sport, that has to change or our grandkids will look at upland hunting with the same misty eyes we reserve for horse-drawn carriages.)

Anyhow, the reason this came up is a recent email from a reader. A few excerpts make a great case in point (edited for readability):

  • I read your book and respect most of your discoveries. However, I choose to fish with more modern-designed products [but] hunt with proven “old school” products.
  • Fishing, I use mostly all Gore-Tex-type breathable products. I love my Simms, Orvis, and Patagonia products. They serve me well when I am fishing. However, when it comes to hunting I love Filson products – other than my Smartwool socks, which fit me better…and my Garmin Astro 220 and Tri-Tronics dog beeper.
  • I have tried several other products, but they fail. I hunt at least 50 days a year. I ordered a pair of LL Bean Gore-Tex [Upland] Pants and promptly sent them back. They would never handle the hunting I do.

Got that? He has no problem keeping up with the times in fishing, but bird-hunting is a different story – completely different, as in 180 degrees. This makes zero sense to us.

Still the best gear?! (Kansas Historical Society photo)

Nothing against Filson products at all here – just for every product there is an optimal or best one for your use. And it’s likely not what your dad or granddad used. (In this case, the gent sent the Bean pants back without even trying them in the field!)

To us this seems to be a mental phenomenon, maybe one that’s upland-market-specific. To use the above example, new gear – graphite rods, high-tech lines, breathable waders, etc. – new tools, new fly-tying materials, new everything is embraced in fly fishing…and every other type of fishing and hunting. But in the upland world, new is often not embraced – except maybe some dog gear.

Maybe a good way to put it is: A good chunk of the upland scene seems to be where fly fishing was when fly fishermen complained about all those newfangled graphite rods being an unnecessary affront to tried and true bamboo.

We’ve heard from folks who won’t use shells with non-round pellets because they don’t believe they’ll work (they do – try ’em!), and some who feel that the esteemed upland brothers who wrote about bird-hunting 20, 30, 70 years ago are the only authorities (they’re not – not that we are!).

We just…don’t…get it. Where do you come out?


Category: Rants

Comments (5)

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  1. Cody Leonard says:

    I don’t know why this is. I know alot of upland hunters that don’t change anything for ever. I guess I don’t fit in that category. I’m always looking for the “new” thing to help the the pursuit of upland game. But you are right unless something changes in products/hunters mindset/habitat we won’t ever be able to pass this great sport on to our kids or grandkids.

  2. James Watts says:

    What works for you may not appeal to me, I have a several upland vests, but I always choose the waxed cotton strap vest that I bought on sale. Boots are another personal choice buy what works for you, but the buy the best you can afford. When I am hunting Wis. or Mich. I prefer rubber bottom pac style boots, at home in East TN I wear an all leather boot with lots of grip for going up and coming down. My shirts range from sweatshirts to traditional upland shirts and also an all orange long sleeve microfiber that I picked up at Gander Mountain. I wear Pointer brand nylon overalls extremely light weight and pretty much waterproof.

  3. GW Biggs says:

    Why are some uplanders stubbornly convinced that modern synthetics are superior to waxed cotton when it isn’t true? 😉 My Filson pants and bibs have taken far more abuse and lasted far longer than your imported synthetic pants in cold, wet, windy conditions in heavy, thorny brush. They are like armor, allowing me to wade into and right through stuff that would shred guys dressed like you. I use modern technology when I find it beneficial, like newer backpack-style hydration vests, modern baselayers, and Goretex/leather boots. But I wont discard superior older technology just to be “modern” or trendy.

  4. Glen says:

    Jay and friends,

    I have been accused of being a gear geek. This off season I have been re-outfitting everything. New wing works vest, new Asolo gortex boots (www.rei.com, Orvis all weather shell(www.orvis.com), Bean Pants, Mountain Hardware Hiker Hat, Bob Bertram hand braided kangaroo leather lanyard, ACR Personal Location Beacon (www.westmarine.com) ( Aqua Link View) Insect repellent Buff from (www.planetbuff.com) and my custom made base clothing from http://www.beyondclothing.com .

    Last year was a new Garmin Astro 220 system a new shotgun purchase and the year before was a new Tritronics Upland Special for two dogs.

    I think I qualify as progressive when I spend evenings looking for moisture wicking socks. But I believe your missing the point here with some of these guys. I am proud of some of my finds. I was real proud of an orange rain jacket I got at Sam’s Club Last year for $20 that Columbia makes for $120. But these guys are found their technology too. They are recognized some what but what they use and how they do it just as you are. My Hay Day was in the 1980’s when I was in college. I still put a bit of hair gel in because its comfortable and works but its not current and its not best.

    People are searching for memories. When I replaced my Filson Strap vest with my wing works vest (www.wingworks.biz) I stuffed it in my hunt bag. It’s a trophy for the beat down and adventures it represents. Fishing is fun but its not the searching for your dog in thick cover either. Give these guys a break and if they are having fun and looking good in their wool sweaters, Filson Tin, 20lbs RedSetters, and are sporting sweat rings. So be it. It is what they know and part of the adventure and memories of the past.

  5. Robert Bishop says:

    Not enough room for a rant about marketing here, but time for a few comments.

    I fly fish (for trout and Atlantic Salmon) and upland hunt, primarily for ruffed grouse (in the woods) and some ptarmigan on the barrens. In fly fishing there is no doubt that some things are a vast improvement, such as breathable waders but in many cases the adoption of “modern” equipment is a forced issue because of the lack of reasonably priced “traditional” equipment. Checked out the cost of a decent split cane fly rod lately? I use graphite rods, and a few old split cane ones, but my reels are old, or old designs, that work well, even if they take a dip, unlike many ultra modern disc drag reels. The cane rods work just as well as graphite ones if you take the time to learn how to use them, even with modern lines; again checked out the price of silk lines lately? And most people (me included) wouldn’t want the hassle of drying and greasing a silk line every time it’s used.

    For my upland hunting I use side by sides, just because I like them and because I inherited a beautiful old one that is solid and reliable and works just as well as a plastic and stainless steel auto stamped out in a factory who knows where. Unlike a previous poster I actually tried a pair of gore tex “upland pants” that lasted three days before I sent them back for a refund because they kept the wet out only as long as they were in one piece, which was about two and a half days in the October woods. Cheap plastic rain pants, when necessary, over double layer cotton duck works better and lasts longer, at least in my experience.

    As you note yourselves, the upland huinting demographic is not young and like many, when I started at this as a teenager there weren’t many alternatives to the traditional clothing and footwear. Now there are but I know what works for me and what’s comfortable. Why spent $$$ for something that might work when I can (usually) spend less for something I know works?

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