June 15, 2023
Having your duck dog riding shotgun on the way to your hunting spot may seem like a good idea. After all, what are the odds that you’ll ever need to slam on your brakes or smash into a stalled vehicle on the side of the road? Not high, of course, but also not zero. And that’s important.
A retriever that isn’t contained in some fashion will become a flying doggo if your truck suddenly isn’t going the speed it was a fraction of a second before. When that happens, all bets are off. For the mornings when you avoid catastrophe and make it to the boat ramp easy enough, there is the reality of keeping an excited duck dog contained.
We don’t know what the number-one cause is for retrievers prematurely ending up in doggy heaven, but it’s a good bet that getting squished on the road ranks pretty high with sporting dogs. Keeping a dog contained until everyone is ready to hop into the boat or hike to the blind is a good way to keep your amped-up retriever from blindly sprinting out onto a nearby road.
In other words, a good dog kennel is an excellent insurance policy against something terrible happening to your favorite duck hunting partner. If you’re not using one, or are interested in an upgrade, check out these offerings.
Lucky Duck Lucky Kennel
If your duck dog is too big for his kennel and you’re sick of having to lube him up just to get him to fit, check out the Lucky Kennel from Lucky Duck. This 5 Star Crash Test Rated crate is a one-piece rotomolded option for at-home and over-the-road use. It’s designed with easy-clean drain holes, powder-coated tie downs, and is compatible with the Lucky Ratchet Strap Kit. Having messed with a fair amount of crates in our time, the original Lucky Kennel Intermediate became one of our go-tos for a variety of reasons, but the bottom line is that it’s a lightweight, bulletproof crate that is designed well. Available in sizes Large and Intermediate.
$600-$700 | luckyduck.com
Gunner G1 Series Kennel
Gunner has garnered a reputation for churning out some of the best dog crates the industry has ever seen. Their G1 Series features a double-wall, roto-molded kennel that can withstand 4,000 pounds of force, which means you pretty much can’t offer your retriever better travel protection. The American-made G1 kennels also feature a reversible door, water-repelling windows, and a suite of souped-up tie-downs, stainless steel hardware, and a lifetime warranty. These kennels aren’t cheap, but buying one means that you’re not going to have to buy another crate for a long, long time.
$550-$900 | gunner.com
Ruff Land Kennels Large Kennel
The high-performance products from Ruff Land Kennels feature Ruff Flex technology built into the top, floor, and walls of each kennel that adds flexibility and absorbs energy rather than transferring it to your dog. Each kennel has a StackRight® design that is ready to be stacked or coupled for loading up the whole pack for your next training session or duck hunting road trip. A SureVent® tapered wall design with holes on each side allows for proper air circulation to keep your dog cool and comfortable. An UpSide® raised floor interior makes for superior cushioning and drains liquids away from your dog. Proudly made in the USA, Ruff Land Kennels are available with a single front door or with two doors (front/back or front/side) with two-way swing in Millstone grey or Rockstone tan color options. The Large Ruff Land weighs just 30 pounds and a rugged, padded handle on each end makes loading and carrying a breeze.
$377-$397 | rufflandkennels.com
Dakota283 G3 Series Kennel
The molded-and-assembled-in-the-USA G3 Framed Door Kennel from Dakota283 is one of the better deals going in the dog crate market these days. It’s also outfitted with an easy-grip handle, large ventilation holes, and a keyed paddle latching door. If you’re running a whole pack of retrievers and need multiple kennels without taking up too much space, consider that the G3 that is recessed for crate stacking (requires an extra kit). Choose from eight colors in the lineup, which offers crates in three sizes.
$330-$600 | dakota283.com
Avery Sporting Dog Quick-Set Travel Kennel
Designed for non-vehicle use (not the bed of your hunting truck), the Avery Sporting Dog Quick-Set Travel Kennel is a must-have for anyone who needs to contain a dog at home, in a hotel room, or in a hunting camp. Four sizes are offered, and each is designed with a 900D DuraMax cover to keep bugs out and rain off of your dog. It also boasts vinyl storage pockets to hold everything from e-collars to training bumpers. The Quick-Set is available in marsh brown and Mossy Oak Bottomland camo, weighs next to nothing, and won’t cost a fortune.
$70-$105 | banded.com