WEAR ENOUGH BOOT

DON’T LET A HUNT BE RU­INED BY THE WRONG FOOTWEAR

Outdoor Life - - HUNTING - BY BEN LONG

We hunters have skewed pri­or­i­ties. We spend count­less hours and dis­pos­able in­come fret­ting over our ri­fles. We mea­sure in grains and mi­crom­e­ters to get MOA groups or a few hun­dred more feet per sec­ond.

Yet for ev­ery hunt ru­ined by a poor choice re­gard­ing firearms or am­mu­ni­tion, hun­dreds more are ru­ined be­cause a hunter made a bad choice of footwear. I en­joy toy­ing with my ri­fle and loads, but I have a sin­gle gun for ev­ery­thing from pronghorns to moose. On the other hand, I have enough high-end boots to stuff a gun safe.

I’ve spent nearly 50 years tromp­ing the north­ern Rock­ies. Here’s what is in my present boot col­lec­tion, and how I choose which to wear on a given hunt.

KENETREK MOUN­TAIN EX­TREME 

My go-to boots from late Oc­to­ber through Fe­bru­ary, these are light­weight, plenty rigid, of­fer great an­kle sup­port, and in­clude 400 grams of Thin­su­late. They’re warm enough to wear when wait­ing on a Thanks­giv­ing white­tail, yet light enough to be com­fort­able above the tim­ber­line when track­ing a mu­ley buck. ($475; kenetrek.com)

WHITE’S SMOKEJUMPE­RS

White’s Smokejumpe­rs are a pre­ferred pick for log­gers and fire­fight­ers who spend their time in steep, rain-slick forests while car­ry­ing sharp tools. I wear these when I’m do­ing heavy woods work like pack­ing elk quar­ters. They’re ide­ally suited for rough ter­rain yet quiet enough that you for­give their in­dus­tri­al­grade weight and lug soles. ($480; whites­boots.com)

WHITE’S ELK GUIDE

These are what to wear when win­ter gets se­ri­ous. In­su­lated with 9mm felt lin­ers, with rub­ber bot­toms and full-grain leather that goes to the knee, these are mag­num boots for cold and deep snow. They are made for frigid, late-sea­son hunts, ice­fish­ing, or rid­ing on a snow­mo­bile. A down­side is they are heavy, bulky, and so warm that your feet can sweat if you do much walk­ing. ($240; whites­boots.com)

SCHNEE’S GUIDE ADV

The “Bean boot” con­cept—a leather up­per stitched to rub­ber bot­toms—is time-tested. They nav­i­gate soggy ground and can­not be beat when the stalk de­mands ab­so­lute si­lence. They can be hosed off af­ter cross­ing a muddy corn­field. Their down­side is that since the boots are unin­su­lated, my toes suf­fer when the tem­per­a­ture dips much be­low freez­ing. ($260; schnees.com)

MAMMUT T-AD­VANCED GTX

I wear these light, lim­ber an­kle­high boots al­most ev­ery day: on train­ing climbs in the lo­cal hills, on week­end scram­bles, and on back­pack trips. I lace them on when I need a quiet boot for mild-weather turkey or elk hunt­ing, or for hik­ing into an alpine fish­ing lake. These are durable, breath­able, and, most im­por­tant, they are ex­tremely com­fort­able. ($120; mammut.com)

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