With hunting season right around the corner, hunters across the country are preparing gear and equipment for their time in the woods or backcountry. Aside from your weapon and the ability to shoot it, you better have quality footwear toward the top of the list of gear items you don’t take lightly. The boots you wear can make or break your hunt. Make the wrong choice in footwear and you’ll quickly turn your dream hunt into hell on earth with every step. If you want to know how to pick the perfect hunting boot, read on. The information below will help steer you in the right direction when selecting your next hunting boots.
What’s the best boot for your next hunting adventure?
Answering the When, Where and Why
Before you set out to buy your new boots, you need to establish the when, where and why regarding your hunt. Asking the right questions before you buy will save time and tons of headache when you’re actually on the hunt. Yes, it seems pretty obvious, but you might be surprised at how many hunters walk in to a sporting goods store and buy the boots that look cool, regardless of what they were designed to do. They buy the ones that feature their favorite camo rather than the ones that were built for the hunt they have coming up. Be sure to take the time to answer the right questions before you buy your next boots.
What are You Using them For?
Several years ago a buddy of mine set out for a Colorado elk hunt after a year of planning and preparation. When asked about what boots he planned to wear, his answer was a pair of LaCrosse rubber knee boots. Don’t get me wrong. I love my LaCrosse boots. I pretty much wear them on a daily basis. But they were not designed to be mountain boots. They are incredibly comfortable, but not exactly built for chasing elk. I encouraged my friend to take another pair of boots that were designed for the hunt he was headed into. You need to know what you’re buying the boots for before you fork out the cash. Don’t buy swamp boots for hunting the hills. And don’t buy mountain boots if you’re going to be tromping through the swampy stuff. Knowing what you’ll be using the boots for will quickly help you determine which direction to take on a purchase.
The boots you wear hunting mule deer out west won’t likely be the same boots you’ll wear while chasing whitetail deer in the southeast.
What Time of Year Will You Be Hunting?
As much as we’d like to have one boot to get us through the entire hunting season, that’s just not the case. There will come a time when you have to swap out your warm weather boots for ones with insulation to get you through the cold days in the woods. Wearing heavily insulated boots in the early season can be miserable. And we all know the misery that comes with cold feet in the winter months. You need to answer the question of when you plan to use the boots before you buy them. And as much as you’d like to get multi-season use out of your boots, don’t stretch it. Be sure to buy exactly what you need for the season – and weather – you’ll be hunting. The boots you’ll wear for a September elk hunt out west won’t be the same boots you’ll wear while sitting in a late-season treestand in Wisconsin.
What Type of Terrain Will You Be Hunting?
As mentioned previously, swamp boots and mountain boots don’t mix. Don’t skimp here. The right boots for the right terrain is a must. What type of terrain will you be moving around in? What kind of load will you be hauling on your back? The bigger the load on your back, the more support you’ll want for your ankles. If you’ve got horses carrying the load for you, you can get away with a more comfortable/less stiff boot.
Good friend, Jeremy Scotton, of LaCrosse says, “A DIY backcountry elk hunt would get a different boot recommendation than a guided pack-in hunt or hunting out of a lodge. The key is to be really specific on what you’ll be using the boots for before you buy.”
Early season morning hunts in the east can often mean moisture on the ground for your walk in. If you don’t have waterproof boots, your feet will be soaked in a hurry. Tall rubber knee boots are a great option to keep you high and dry. The terrain you’ll be hunting should impact your decision on what boots you need.
Our friend, Erin Braun, of LaCrosse Footwear shared some insight on how she selects the perfect hunting boot. “For me, picking the perfect hunting boot comes down to both comfort and versatility. The outsole tread is also really important to me – it has to provide stability and grip on steep or unstable terrain. For elk season, my go-to is Danner’s Wayfinder boot. Being designed specifically for women, it feels like it was made to fit my foot and is lightweight yet supportive enough to handle long days of chasing bugling bulls in the Oregon backcountry.”
Hunting Snake Country?
I’ve had a handful of way-too-close snake encounters over the years, including two rattlesnake encounters at my feet in recent years. I’ve grown to love a good pair of snake boots when hunting in areas where the snakes tend to hang out. Snake boots are like insurance. You’ll never truly appreciate them until you really need them. They provide peace of mind when tromping around in sketchy snake country in the low-light hours before and after your hunt. You won’t often see people across the midwest wearing snake boots, however, they’re often considered standard equipment for warm weather hunting for hunters in Texas, Florida and many other southern states.
Select boots that were built to handle the terrain you’ll be hunting this season.
How to Pick the Perfect Hunting Boot – Conclusion
I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard hunters say, “I just can’t spend $200 on hunting boots!” Those same hunters wouldn’t think twice about spending far more than that on other pieces of gear in their hunting arsenal. Remember, boots are gear – one of the most important pieces of gear you can possibly own. Don’t skimp on your boots. Buy quality boots that were built for your next hunt.