One of the benefits to the wide selection of rubber and neoprene-hybrid knee boots is the lack of break-in time required before going hunting.
By Alan Clemons, Southeast Managing Editor
No doubt, many of you have done the same thing as I have at least once: bought some Lacrosse Burly or Muck boots on the way to camp or a hunt, slipped them on, maybe roughed ‘em up with some mud at camp, doused the heck out of ‘em with scent killer and then you went hunting.
I’ve even pulled on boots straight out of the box and hit the woods. I don’t recommend that, honestly, because new boots do have an aroma. If you’re keen on trying to reduce your scent cloud – and we have one, like Pigpen in the Peanuts comic strip – this probably isn’t the best route to take. I’ve also taken new boots, knee and lace-up, and tromped through mud puddles, scuffed and rubbed mud, grass and cedar boughs all over them, and when possible have left them outside to air-dry after a few good sprays of Dead Down Wind or ATSKO N-O-Dor.
Part of the new boot process is breaking them in, or getting accustomed to them. Figuring out any hot spots on your heels or toes while wearing the socks you’ll use in winter. Seeing if they fit correctly (take your hunting socks when trying them in the store!) or pinch. Lacing them up loosely and tightly, depending on the terrain in your area.
Today’s boots are better than 10 or 20 years ago, from a flexibility and technology standpoint. The footbeds are more comfortable. Soles have better traction and durability, as do the rubber toe and heel counters. Even some lacing systems have improved, taking a nod from hiking boots.
For several years, two good friends of mine have extolled the virtues of Wolverine boots. Because I had several pairs of Lacrosse, Rocky and Muck boots, I didn’t need any more. Last spring I was heading to Mellon Creek Outfitters in south Texas for a turkey and hog hunt with Mossberg to try the new and wickedly cool Flex shotgun. I realized I didn’t have any lightweight, 8-inch lace-up boots, which really is all I wanted to wear down there.
(An aside: My pals said, “Don’t worry about snake boots. The big rattlers hit you in the thigh.” Nice. Reassuring. Fortunately, we didn’t see any.)
I ordered a pair of the Wolverine Forester, an 8-inch non-insulated lace-up. They’re waterproof, breathable, have a 1,000 denier upper and a footbed that felt like I was walking in tennis shoes. I’m talking about immediately comfortable, with no break-in required. I laced them up once at home and then headed to Texas.
Since then, I’ve worn these around the house mowing the yard and on hikes in varying terrain including slick mud and gravel. While in Texas in late April and at home this summer in temperatures pushing 100 degrees, they got pretty doggone sweaty. The upside? They dry out very quickly, usually within a day. I suspect a Peet boot dryer might do the trick in just a few hours if need be.
If you’re looking for a new pair of boots for early deer season, small-game hunting, bird hunting or just to knock around, plenty of options exist. We’re better off today with that variety and I look forward to seeing what’s down the road with fabrics and technological advances.