Brush Busters for Upland Excursions

Take a look at these upland hunting pants and chaps.

Brush Busters for Upland Excursions

While upland bird hunting has fallen in popularity over the past few decades, there are still millions of stalwart hunters who each year strap on their boots, load up their shotguns and release their gun dogs in pursuit of any of a couple dozen different bird species spread across the United States. From ruffed grouse in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to ring-necked pheasants in western Kansas to chukars way out West, there are avid hunters willing to do whatever it takes to pursue their favorite quarry — including spending plenty of money on gear along the way.

One interesting aspect of hunting birds for most species is the thick cover they often inhabit — especially when receiving lots of hunting pressure during the open season. Many upland species live on the edges between open ground and thick cover, and when they retreat to that cover, it can cause a hunter to go through jeans faster and lose more blood than he or she would like.

Of course, the answer to that problem is easy to find. Brush pants and hunting chaps protect hunters from briars, plum thickets and a variety of other sticky, scratchy, pokey plants, allowing hunters to get into the thick stuff where birds are often hunted without shedding blood or ruining clothing. In fact, for hunting most upland species successfully and comfortably, good brush pants or chaps are nearly a necessity.

Note also that upland hunting pants and brush chaps aren’t just for bird hunters. Many other types of hunters spend lots of time in thick brush, particularly rabbit and even hog hunters. Plus, many hound hunters who run raccoons at night wear such outer garments to protect themselves from cuts and scrapes when traipsing down brushy creek bottoms in the dark.


Pants or Chaps?

While you might think choosing between upland pants or chaps is largely a matter of personal preference — and it is to some extent — both brush pants and chaps have their advantages and disadvantages. That’s why I own and hunt with both, depending on the circumstances.

Upland brush pants are the real deal, created for comfort, protection, moisture wicking and a number of other aspects of hunting. During warmer weather, upland pants allow you to stay cooler by having one single layer, compared to two layers when wearing chaps over jeans. Many models also look great, and it can be a source of pride to wear them into a convenience store for an early morning cup of coffee and be welcomed by a conversation about bird hunting, thanks to your trousers.

When I’m going to be busting the brush for the entire day — or even for several straight days — I prefer upland pants. They’re purpose-made for that activity and keep me comfortable, as well as protected, no matter how thick the cover.

Chaps, on the other hand, are great for times when you’re just going to make a quick jaunt to a bobwhite honeyhole to try to get into a few coveys during a quick afternoon hunt. Slip them right on over your jeans, and you’re good to go immediately with no fuss or muss.

Chaps are also great for those who are in that life stage when constant weight gain is a problem. Since chaps don’t have a waistband, you never have to worry about not being able to button them when you’ve spent a little extra time around the table at Thanksgiving dinner.

Also, when I’m going to be riding my horse, I prefer the chaps, as they don’t bind up around the crotch and upper thighs when mounting and dismounting. They’re also more handy than upland pants if you want to be able to run into a convenience store or restaurant without your wardrobe screaming, “I’m hunting today!” Simply slip them off and you’re back to jeans or whatever other trousers you prefer.

For most hunters, chaps with a full-length zipper will serve their needs best. That’s because when unzipped, you can slip them on and off without having to take off your boots in most cases. Shorter zippers often won’t allow this, resulting in frustration when having to take boots on and off to put on and remove chaps.

You’ll likely have customers who greatly prefer one over the other, which is why it’s a good idea for retailers in areas with lots of bird hunters to carry a nice selection of both. Now, let’s take a look at some specific upland hunting pants and chaps that hunting retailers might want to consider adding to their inventory.


Upland Pants

When quality, fit and durability are important — and they definitely are when busting through the thick stuff in search of ruffies, ringnecks or scaled quail — many hunters turn to the Browning Upland Pant. These pants are made from rugged 10-ounce cotton for comfort and feature a water-resistant polyester overlay to protect hunters’ legs from the biggest, toughest thorns. The four-pocket design of the pants gives hunters plenty of places to carry a pocket knife, some spare shotshells or any number of other gear items a person might need on the hunt. Plus, articulated knee darts aid in flexibility when getting up and down, and when getting in and out of a vehicle to move from one hunting hotspot to another.

The Gamehide Heavy Duty Briar Proof Upland Pants is another option preferred by many. The pants feature a reinforced seat and durable 10-ounce fabric. They also feature a heavy-duty hook and D ring for leashes, electronic collar controls or key rings. Two front slash pockets and a rear pocket protect your license and keys. All facings are waterproof coated 1000 denier nylon fabric. They’re available in dark brown and marsh brown, giving bird hunters a bit of a fashion choice. Plus, they have a modest MSRP that nearly any bird hunter can afford.

At the higher priced end of the upland hunting pants spectrum are the Filson Shelter Cloth Brush Pants. These hunting pants are made of the storied company’s 11-ounce Shelter Cloth, a tightly woven wax cotton so named because of its similarity to the durable tent fabric used by military troops back in the mid-1900s. This cloth ensures these pants are comfortable the very first hunt and stay that way throughout their lifetime. The overlay is oil-finish Shelter Cloth, and the pants feature a button fly and suspender buttons. While they might be pricey, these pants are about as good as you can get for the serious hunter who really hits the thick stuff on a regular basis.

Hunting Chaps 

Browning brags that their Upland Chaps are made for those fearless individuals who battle the nastiest brush to find their birds, and if you look at how tough these chaps are, that’s not a hard statement to believe. They’re made of 12-ounce, 100% cotton canvas with a tough, briar-resistant overlay. They feature double-sized adjustment loops with hook-and-loop closure, alleviating the need for buckles. The side opening is held closed by a series of snaps, making them easy to put on and remove, even over boots. The main part of the chap is an attractive tan color, while the brush guard portion is a darker chocolate hue, making them look great as well as being quite functional.

Filson’s Double Tin Chaps are made to bust the thickets and thorny briars where birds love to hide. They’re made of two layers of heavy, 12.5-ounce cotton canvas combined with what Filson calls Oil Finish Tin Cloth. A neat feature on these chaps is each leg has two straps that slide under your belt (one on either side of the belt loop) to prevent the chaps from twisting. Plus, two snaps on each strap allow for very good length adjustment. The Double Tin Chaps also feature 13-inch zippers on the outside of each leg, with mud flaps that snap shut on both the inside and outside of the zipper.

The Heavy Duty Upland Chap from Gamehide is another fine brush-busting product preferred by many upland hunters not satisfied with just working the outer edges of thick cover. For added durability, the makers reinforced the fabric to mid-calf on back, and the front is faced with 1000 denier brush-busting, water-repellent coated fabric. Full-length leg zippers make these chaps very easy to put on and take off, and the cuffs feature a triple layer of material for long time wear. Adjustable hip straps on each side keep the chaps in place and allow for easy length adjustment. The Heavy Duty Upland Chap is available in dark brown, marsh brown and upland green, all with a chocolate colored brush-buster layer.

Don’t miss out on the dollars that avid upland bird hunters spend to chase their feathered quarry. Keep some pants and chaps in stock as these hunters begin gearing up for this fall’s upland seasons.


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