I’m working on a piece for our October issue of Outdoor Life on ways to effectively hunt upland birds without a dog.

As I write, I notice I’m getting frequent sideways looks from my yellow Lab, Willow. She’ll be 8 years old on Thanksgiving, and she and I both know that our time together in the field is finite.

Honestly, it’s hard to imagine hunting without her. Much of the pleasure I derive from bird hunting comes from watching Willow figure out a scent trail, stay on the tracks of a running rooster, and put a bird in the sky. And her steady retrieving brings far more birds to my hand than I probably deserve.

But many of us don’t have the ability to keep a hunting dog. Or we’re between pups. Should that keep us from bird hunting? I don’t think so, but I want to hear from you.

Would you hunt birds without a dog? And if you do, what specific advice do you have for the rest of the dogless hunters out there?