To what lengths do you go to break in your new hunting boots for deer season, those fresh out-of-the-box boots that look so handsome but will be gloriously covered with mud, blood and other awesome things this season?
Are you in the “just stick ’em outside” camp? Or maybe you don’t even worry about it at all, eh? A few weeks ago I was emailing with a friend about some hunting stuff and got this line: “I’m wearing my new boots around the office to help break them in.”
Lace-up boots, no doubt, because wearing knee boots would not be trendy. Or business attire. I’m not sure, though, because I didn’t ask. My friend could be attempting to start a new camo fashion frenzy.
I’m a weirdo about how to break in new hunting boots. I realize that. What I do sounds crazy. But it works for me. When I open a box of new Lacrosse Alphaburly Pro or Muck Arctic Pro boots, they’re spiffy sharp. Nary a scuff or scratch. And they have that nice new boot aroma.
That’s want I want to get rid of. You do, too. Here are my four tips to get rid of the boot smell before hunting season.
Mow the Lawn in Them
Yep, told you I was a weirdo. Mow the lawn? In neoprene-rubber boots, in summer?
Well, yes. That’s exactly the point. It’s summer, it’s hot, you’re blowing grass and weedeating the ditch and whatever else is going on. All that grassy mess gets on your boots. Maybe some mud in the ditch or your flower beds.
All that grass has a nice grassy aroma to it. You’re walking around through freshly-mown grass. What’s more natural than that?
I’ll do this two or three times with new boots and leave them sitting outside when I’m done. I don’t brush off or wash off the grass stuck to them, either.
But, What About Sweat?
Yep, in summer when I wear these and mow the yard or go fishing or whatever, I sweat in them. Sweat can help create odors via bacteria. We all know this from the different stories we read like this one and this one and this one about curtailing odors.
Shove your schnozz into the boot after you mow and it probably won’t smell like roses. That doesn’t bother me, either. I leave the boots sitting out to dry — turned upside down just in case any thing needs to drain (yeeechhh!) — and they smell fine after the summer sun takes care of everything.
Remember, sweat plus bacteria like under your nasty armpits or other manpart regions is what helps create odors. Sweat trapped in your nasty socks in shoes or boots that are too tight is what helps create odors (and foot fungus rot toejam nastiness). Let your boots (or shoes) dry out well.
Yeah, But They’re My Hunting Boots
OK, here’s my third weirdo thing that I do: I fill them with water and let them sit for a while. Usually in the blazing summer heat, for a few hours. I don’t add any soap or anything, just water.
This does a couple of things for me.
First, it lets me see if there are any leaks anywhere around the seams. There shouldn’t be any leaks, of course, but sometimes things happen during manufacturing. You never know. I’d rather find something in July than while crossing a creek in October or November when temperatures are cooler and the water wouldn’t feel good inside my boots.
Second, whatever funky nuggets may be residing in the boots now are going to be saturated. After dumping out the water I’ll turn them upside down again to finish draining and drying.
When they’re completely dry, and I usually give them a couple of days or more, they smell fine to me. No more new boot aroma, no funkiness inside. They’re just boots.
WATCH: USE THE BEST SCENT TACTICS TO FOOL DEER and IMPROVE YOUR HUNTING
OK, What’s the Last Thing?
Odor-controlling scent sprays aren’t a magic bullet. You cannot, ever, just make two or three spritzes with a bottle of No-Stinkum and be done. That would be like thinking you can swish with a teaspoon of mouthwash after eating a garlic-laden pasta dish and repel vampires. You’ll repel the ladies, for sure.
I use odor-controlling sprays because I think they’re helpful. One of my favorites is Wildlife Research Center’s ScentStorm Cedar cover scent spray. It’s one of five that WRC has, and a couple of places I hunt have a ton of cedars. So I use it pretty liberally on my apparel, caps, backpacks and boots.
In summer after my weirdo boot process, I’ll spray the ScentStorm Cedar into and on the outside of my boots. Then I let them dry. I may do this a couple of times. I use it again, liberally, when I’m hunting. I like the earth and pine scents, too, for the same reasons; they fit well where I hunt.
I didn’t worry about the scent with my Lacrosse snake boots because I had them for turkey season, wore them in the woods and took care of things. For lace-up boots, I’ll do everything except fill them with water. Mow the yard a few times, let them sit in the sun and then spray liberally.
Hey, everyone’s different. This works for me. Maybe it’ll work for you, too.