June 03, 2022
By Tony J. Peterson
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.
I 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 new Lucky Kennel. 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 my time, the original Lucky Kennel Intermediate became my go-to 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
Primos – KennelUP
Primos stepped into the hunting dog world with their KennelUP offerings. I’ve been using one and it is a killer product. For starters, the KennelUP weighs 37 pounds, which may sound like a lot, but it’s not. When you consider that this crate is a one-piece, roto-molded beast designed to withstand serious abuse, its weight is actually pretty impressive. The KennelUP also features a reversible locking door, a removable back vent, and built-in drains for ease in clean-up. Aside from being nearly bomb-proof in construction, these crates are also built with aluminum tie-downs and heavy-duty rubber feet to keep it in place no matter how hairy your drive gets.
$500 | primos.com
Gunner – G1 Series
Gunner has garnered a reputation for churning out some of the best crates the industry has ever seen. Their G1 Series feature, 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.
$500-$900 | gunner.com
Ruff Land Performance Kennels – Double Door Insulated Kennel Cover
Buying a rock-solid dog crate is a no-brainer, but if you’re a field hunter or run into other situations where you need to hide your hound from the discriminating eyes of approaching waterfowl, then you also need a field blind of some sort. This is one of the reasons why the minds behind Ruff Land teamed up with Mud River to produce their Double Door Kennel Cover – that and the fact that it will just generally keep your retriever warm and dry and more comfortable during travel. It’s multi-use, and it’s also loaded with accessory pockets, heavy duty zippers, and will work with any Ruff Land Kennel door configuration.
$160-$200 | rufflandkennels.com
Dakota283 – G3 Series
The molded-and-assembled-in-the-USA G3 Framed Door Kennel from Dakota283 is one of the better deals going in the 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.
$410-$630 | dakota283.com
Avery Sporting Dog – Quick-Set Travel Kennel
Designed for interior-vehicle use (not the bed of your hunting truck), the Avery Sporting Dog Quick-Set is a must-have for anyone who needs to crate 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 solid colors and camo, weighs next to nothing, and will cost you only $70 - which is an absolute steal.
$100 | banded.com