The Ultimate City Escape is in the covers of the Upland World.
Long before I was head first into upland hunting, I was a diehard bowhunter—or more accurately a diehard urban deer hunter. I worked in Boston, hunted around Boston, and spent more time around high rises than wilderness. The escape, however, to a tree stand before or after work could only satisfy so much of my need for the wild. I took mature buck hunting seriously. Over time that would not only wear me down, it would make me look north to the grouse camps of my youth for the ultimate city escape.
The interesting catch is that I could have gone north to hunt deer. As modern deer hunting culture shifts to trophy-obsessed, many turn their nose at the idea of hunting uncharted territory. Including me, once upon a time. But mature bucks, trail cameras, and perfect planning usually adds up to lots of spent time. City dwellers simply don’t have that time to spend. That means urban deer for city dwellers, not a six hour drive to a new spot.
As my need for the wild increased, I began to travel to the northern areas of New England with the ideals of being a “weekend warrior” of the ruffed grouse and American woodcock. Upland hunting did not require me to have months of scouting. Although as my passion evolved, the time I spent scouting added up. All I needed was a couple decent covers and I could free myself of pavement, humans, and loud noises. Other than the distant noises of chainsaws in logging country, which is a beauty of its own, my senses were full of a true wilderness escape. The fresh autumn air and breathtaking fall view does wonders for the soul.
“Upland hunting did not require me to have months of scouting.”
You can hunt these pristine places on just a weekend trip from any major city. However, it requires some basic knowledge of wilderness navigation and minimal gear. Any old shotgun with the right choke and right load is about all that separates us from miles of upland hunting. Rent a cabin, pitch a tent, sleep in your car—and step away. Let your mind wander to the old days of big wilderness and adventure.
Now some diehard upland hunting folk may cringe at this, but no dog is necessary. Yes, the dog brings on a whole different addiction and passion, but most of my upland hunting experiences were without a dog. Sure, tactics require more patience and a lot more boots on the ground. But it’s still worth the time and experience for a city escape.
The timing of upland hunting is a bit different than most hunting engagements. Have an unusual work schedule? No reason to feel guilty sleeping in, the birds will be there all day. Still want to see the sunrise? Enjoy. There are not the restrictions of early morning and late evening to hinder how you choose your adventure.
Since those first city escapes to the Northwoods, I have had the pleasure to meet some talented upland hunters. As I began to alter my own methods, I thought it would be important that there be more knowledge readily available to novice upland hunters. That is why we continue to expand articles (and eventually videos) to help satisfy not just city dwellers, but anyone looking to pursue upland hunting.
If a true wilderness hunting experience is what you dream of from your high-rise office, upland hunting is just the adventure to satisfy those day dreams of the ultimate city escape.
A.J. DeRosa is an American filmmaker and the Founder and Creative Director of Northwoods Collective. While he is most widely known for the award-winning Project Upland series, he made his first mark in the hunting industry as the critically-acclaimed author of the cult classic The Urban Deer Complex and, more recently, The Urban Deer Complex 2.0. A.J. expanded his work toward the larger mission of recruiting and welcoming millennial hunters by conducting and applying cutting-edge market research across the Northwoods Collective brands. Now a passionate bird hunter, you can find A.J. following Grim, a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, through the uplands with his wife, Sabrina, and oldest son, Marty McFly.