Setting Up and Using Vests in the Field
Here we take a look at different ideas on carrying electronics, canine medical supplies, water, the must-haves-fast, and the must-haves when things go wrong and hunting stops.
First a run-down on the various storage options on the vest.
- The shell pockets on each side are undivided open bags with velcro-ed long pocket flaps designed to allow 50 oz spring water bottles to be carried for training if desired. The flaps also velcro inside the pockets to allow fast access to shells or training aids. We typically put shells in one side and quick access items in the other. The slash pockets on the sides of the shell pockets can fit some transmitters, multi-tools, knives, flashlights, hemostats, game shears (we like Fiskars ”take apart garden shears”), or a fork to flick off cactus balls. The shortest pockets on each side are for the base of the G2 and 3 TriTronics transmitters. We add a snap strap at the base of the antenna to lock them into place on the front/side of either shell pocket. The 1″ D ring at the base of both front shoulder straps can hold lanyards for items stored in the main shell or slash pockets.
- The shoulder harness offers a couple of options for accessories, one on the 2″ shoulder straps above the Hypalon patches off the sternum strap. The off-shooting shoulder is a good place for cameras, cell phones, transmitters and Astros, handy but high enough to be out of the way. Various cases and holsters are available that will thread onto a 2″ vertical strap, and we offer a few in Accessories. The other option is off an optional D ring mounted on the Hypalon patch itself, on the off-shooting side. Items hung here tend to be fairly steady, like standing in the center of a boat in rough water, and very handy. Transmitters can be hung upside down here, checked quickly and dropped. They can also be hung from the metal back clips seen on the smaller transmitters and GPS units. Transmitters with lanyards over the neck can be fitted with adhesive velcro and stuck out of the way on the off shoulder strap on a sewn-on piece of velcro.
- The game bag has the largest zippered accessory pocket of the vest on the back, suited to medical supplies, shotgun slings and tools, leashes and leads, lunch and toilet paper. The 2 zippered pockets on the gamebag sides are great for wallets and licenses, SPOT locators, keys and choke tubes. Inside the gamebag against the body is a mesh 9 x 9 inch open top pocket designed for the 54 oz extra water bottle sold in Accessories, but it can be used for many other incidentals including lunch or dog leads and collars. The 4″ leather strap base on the back was designed to carry a light fleece jacket or windbreaker, tied in the middle so the ends hang down. We’ve used it to carry moose, elk and deer sheds out occasionally.
- The 2″ waist belt offers space on the XL and XXL between the water holsters and shell bags to carry holsters for various items including pistols, transmitters and bear repellent, and holders for cameras, knives and multi-tools. Transmitters can be held upside down on lanyards in the smaller sizes between the water bottle and shell bags, for the use-and-drop program.
Regarding shell loops/holders, we have for a few years sold a 12 ga x 2 shell belt mount holder to either replace the tag end loop on the front of the vest, or just slid onto the other side loose. It’s easier to pull shells from the right side of the belt for a right handed shooter and vice versa. The rivet-on version is typically riveted or screwed onto the Hypalon patch facing down and across the chest towards the handed side of the shooter. We can do this for you or provide aluminum rivets. These holders will be offered soon with removeable inserts for sub-gauges from 16 ga to at least 28 ga, and we will have them in Accessories.
Grouse and woodcock hunters in heavy cover may be able to get by on water in the game bag pouch and unthread the outer bottle holsters for a slimmer profile in the thickets. It takes a few minutes to remove and reassemble but why carry what you don’t need.
Coyote Company Leather has a nice line of leather transmitter holders for a variety of units that ride upside down hanging off the belt. We recommend these on our XL and XXL vests between the shell and game bags. They’re well made, are easy to access and use, and are out of the way when you don’t need them. If you don’t see what you need on the site, phone them and discover how many different transmitter holders they really make. Their printed catalog is more up to date than the website we’ve seen.
There’s a local company that builds an accessory vest for all sorts of electronic gadgets from cell phones to GPS units. They have a patent for wiring clothing from pocket to pocket to facilitate the gadgets. Maybe bird vests will eventually be pre-wired for a more ergonomic use of e-collars, GPS, walkie/talkies, cell phones, personal locator beacons, headphones and hearing protection.
We’ve heard that a few companies are working on combining some of the modern functions into “super transmitters” that will simplify life for the walking hunter somewhat. Phones may be the first to package multiple functions of values to hunters. Less gadgets means less interference in the hunting experience, and a less complicated vest too.