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Try Upland: Bird Hunting Mentorship Goes Mobile

A digital mentorship application meant to connect novice uplanders with the experienced.

Try Upland: Bird Hunting Mentorship Goes Mobile

With so many barriers to entry and challanges to retain new upland bird hunters, the new Try Upland mobile app provides a viable solution at your fingertips.

Consider yourself lucky if you had a proper upland introduction and a hunting heritage that dates back several generations into your family. The introduction of some modern upland hunters is significantly different than it was even five years ago as individuals from all walks of life are now entering the sport and embracing the lifestyle of muddy dogs, feather-filled vests, and scatterguns.

The problem: Many of these new recruits face significant challenges and barriers to entry. While most of us embrace the conservation chorus and proudly preach our contribution to the R3 movement, our efforts often fall short of offering a real difference in someone’s life. Not to detract from the importance of a first exposure, but what most individuals need to remain connected after their initial introduction is an approachable and available mentor. Someone who can show them the ropes, educate, answer questions, but most importantly, inspire and empower the new hunter to forage ahead in their own journey into the uplands.

Insert the new wave of the 21st century and the first question that comes to mind: “Isn’t there an app for that?” And now, the answer is yes.

Two upland bird hunters
Mentorship often involves a one-on-one connection between a mentor who is willing to teach a mentee that is eager to learn. (Photo courtesy of Try Upland)

Mentorship. Conservation. Education.

Try Upland (tryupland.org) is a mobile application that was created to recruit new hunters, build community, educate, and promote mentorship.

“We wanted to create a space that is welcoming, inviting, and all-inclusive while lowering the barrier to entry,” said Will Jenkins, co-founder of Try Upland. “The app is completely free and offers immediate and real-time engagement with the bird hunting community.”

Users create a profile and choose whether they are a mentor or mentee. Try Upland features push notifications, private messaging, and the ability to follow others. It offers community networking through regional groups, a bird dog talk forum, and a buy-sell-trade bulletin. Still early in its growth and development, Jenkins discussed a few upgrades for users to watch for including integration with state and wildlife agencies and our favorite conservation groups.

If at First You Don’t Succeed, Keep Trying

Andrea Leiker of Kansas City, Missouri, grew up in the outdoors and enjoyed turkey and deer hunting with her father and three brothers. She developed an interest in bird hunting while in college but was intimated by the number of hunters and was turned off after a single bad encounter with another hunter who was a little too aggressive in protecting their cover. A few years later, she rekindled her interest in bird hunting and accompanied her brother on a few hunts.

Leiker decided to get a bird dog and found Cookie, a female English pointer who she adopted from a local rescue group. Cookie was said to have very little interest in birds, but Leiker observed her canine’s instincts and several distinguished points on songbirds and decided to see where her dog’s interest and abilities would lead. The two went on several hunts and flushed a few birds, but things weren’t quite coming together. They covered a lot of ground but had little reward to show for it.

female upland hunter with English pointer
The ultimate goal of mentorship should be to foster the comfort and confidence a new hunter needs to be able to hunt on their own. (Sam Wells photo)


Birds of a Feather 

Leiker discovered Try Upland and decided to download the new mobile app and give it a try. “It was time to try something different, a new resource that’s not like other groups and forums where everyone comes off as an expert,” she said. “I created a profile with my interests and joined my regional group. Immediately I noticed a different tone.”

She would soon connect with Heath Seiner, upland steward, and co-founder of the popular Hunt Redi brand. Leiker felt comfortable asking Seiner specific questions about what she might be doing wrong and how she could improve her success in the field.

“He was helpful in explaining things about habitat that completely changed the way I hunt a field. He helped me understand certain vocabulary like “wind breaks”, “brushy draws”, and “transitional cover” and even swapped photos with me to help me understand what I was looking at.”

Bobwhite quail habitat
Understanding and navigating upland bird cover can be very intimidating for the novice hunter. Can you spot any wind breaks, brushy draws, or transitional cover? (Photo courtesy of Andrea Leiker)

Leiker affirmed their virtual communication fostered her confidence and would ultimately lead to her bagging her first wild quail with Cookie.

Seiner was in his farm truck cutting wood when he got her text. “I stopped what I was doing and had my own little moment. Raising two daughters of my own, I will always have a soft spot for any woman working her way into the outdoors. Andrea has an incredible amount of grit and determination. So many others might have given up.”

Leiker expressed deep gratitude for Seiner’s role in helping her along. “He genuinely wants to help people. It would have taken me much longer to find someone in a traditional way. Heath helped me understand what I needed to know and how apply it. It sped up the process and gave me comfort to go out and enjoy it on my own.”

Hunter and English pointer with bobwhite quail
Andrea Leiker and her English pointer, Cookie, with their first wild bobwhite quail. (Photo courtesy of Andrea Leiker)

Make Your Upland Stand

Are you someone who is struggling with your entry into the uplands and don’t know where to start? Leiker suggests downloading Try Upland as a first step and offers some additional advice to overcome your challenges. “Be open with what your goals are and take things at your own pace. There are so many great people that want to help you learn and want to teach and mentor, so find someone that is willing to answer your questions and give you honest answers.”

Seiner added that many times an individual’s own insecurities and perceptions are the greatest barriers to entry and that anyone with an interest in the uplands should not be afraid to put themselves out there.

“No one is going to pull you in, but we can’t help you if we don’t know you need it,” said Seiner. “Be prepared to ask the right questions. ’Where can I go to shoot pheasants’ may not get you very far. Understand that we’ve all put in a lot of time and energy over the years to find covers and find birds. Show a little initiative, meet us in the middle, and we’ll be more than happy to help.”


Try Upland may be the missing link you’ve been looking for. Whether you’re embarking on your first bird season, travelling to hunt a new area, or have been searching for a meaningful way to give back to the sport, it’s time to try Try Upland and make a positive change in the bird hunting community in your own unique way.

Seiner reminds us about the ripple effect and how simple yet significant a single connection can be. “These individual interactions can have more of an effect on someone than we may know. One interaction at a time can lead to change.”

Try Upland may be the missing link you’ve been looking for. Whether you’re embarking on your first bird season, travelling to hunt a new area, or have been searching for a meaningful way to give back to the sport, it’s time to try Try Upland and make a positive change in the bird hunting community in your own unique way.

Try Upland is availabale for download on Android and mobile iOS devices. Learn more at www.tryupland.org

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