A good mountain dog kit should have a little bit of everything: basic medical supplies, extra parts, tools, extra shells, extra gloves, and anything else vital you might need on a bird hunt.
This preparation could save you hundreds of unnecessary dollars at a vet or save your hunting trip when the unexpected happens. Even if a hunt completion event occurs, there are things that can be done to make an injured hunting dog more comfortable or assist in efforts to leave.
The first thing you need to acquire is a pack to store in the truck. The segmented compartments are ideal for a mountain hunting dog kit. A typical gym bag with a single compartment will turn into an instant mess. Mesh organizational packing bins are great for optimizing space and ensuring you stay organized if your backpack doesn’t have numerous zippered compartments.
There are tons of medical kits and other pre-arranged options, but I have yet to find one that covers all the necessities. I’m picky
I took a combat lifeguard course in the military and currently hold an EMT-B and IV certification. I’m a geek on the medical side. If something happens, I like to be the one with the solution. You need to look at the type of dog, the equipment being used, the terrain you will be hunting in, and the conditions in which the hunts will occur to create your own custom kit. Know the factors and elements that your dog will face and you will most likely have the solution if something comes up. Barbed wire, loose shale with sharp edges, cacti and burrs are waiting in the fields.
The medkit is an important place to start the build. A generalized selection typically includes gauze, isopropyl alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, EMT gel, tweezers, extended forceps, compression wrap, superglue, duct tape, and buffered aspirin. Other potentially important pieces include a thermometer, Heal Pad, irrigation syringe, microfiber towels, ice packs, Quikclot, hand and foot warmers, scissors, and a staple gun. A close look at the items in the field should tell you what is really necessary.
A small kit of tools and equipment is also a welcome addition to any mountain dog kit. A Leatherman or Gerber multitool should have a home in the pack. Many hunting dog owners, like me, use electronic collars with GPS capabilities. Batteries die, GPS collar antennas bite, and guns jam. Learn about the tools you’ll need to take apart and put your computer back together.
I also like to carry a selection of shells in my kit. A 3-inch cartridge with a #4 shot has no place in my shotgun when I’m headed for strong quail habitat, just as a 2 3/4-inch cartridge with 7 1/2 shots is no use to a North Dakota rooster South trip. I like to have a few selections on hand. It’s easy to switch between different fields or hunts and you’ll have the right shell for the job.
I spend most of my time thinking about the puppies, but it’s also good to pack a few things for yourself. My preference is to have a small bottle of ibuprofen for CRP marches which gives me memories of basic training. It is also a question of when, not if, a blister will form. A moleskin pack or KT Tape Blister treatment patch are great options for keeping yourself stocked up. Single service power packs will always have a home in my kit too. They’re great for those post-lunch hikes or when you’re running low on fuel.
No kit is perfect, trust that. Hunting dogs will always find a way to surprise you with what they get into. However, a little effort with collecting a variety of these essentials will go a long way. Have fun, stay safe and shoot straight.
Or at least have a good excuse when you don’t.