June 18, 2012
While packing for a weekend of scouting I threw a pair of high-budge boots in the truck. I used them on a coyote hunt in Illinois. I'm scouting for elk and I felt wearing them on flat stuff for four full days of hunting would be sufficient to make them usable. It wasn't.
Friday morning we started up a steep trail and then hiked overland to find some lookouts. Even though the labeling indicated the company designed the boots specifically for elk hunting, within .8 miles I was breaking into my first aid kit and applying moleskin to the blister on my left heel and adjusting the laces. At one mile we turned around. Walking further would have put me out of commission in short order.
I spent the rest of Friday and all day Saturday in my flip-flops. I've spent a lot of time in Africa so I know flip-flops can be great mountain shoes for the right guy, but I'm accustomed to boots.
Saturday we tried to make the most of me being bootless so we drove a road that turned out to be exceedingly treacherous. Not wise. We got in deeper than I expected faster than I expected. Had we stuck the truck, I would have hiked out in my flip-flops.
Sunday, I really wanted to explore a valley about six miles off the road. I patched up my left heal, donned my best wool socks, laced the boots very carefully and set out. By the two mile mark my right heal was blistering and I was out of moleskin. I trudged on barefoot another mile then gave up.
As I limped back to the truck, losing an entire day of scouting, I thought a great deal about where I went wrong. I easily could have completed Sunday's hike in sneakers. It was idiotic not to pack them. In my humble opinion having a pair of boots fail me in the mountains is emotionally just below finding my wife in bed with a Canadian. I also couldn't help but daydream about the gorgeous pair of Kenetrek Mountain Extremes sitting lonely on my boot shelf in my basement.
I know there are certain readers who lose their minds when I endorse products on this blog so I'm going to be very clear here. My boss buys my boots. I spend so much time in the mountains making him mountains of money I just send him the receipt. And if I can get him to pay for Kenetrek boots, I can clearly get him to buy me any boot in the world. I'm that good. The point is this; I can have any boot in the world, therefore, I'm objective.
I tape mountain hunts for Petersen's Hunting TV. My resume includies B.C. mountain goat, Bezoar ibex, Gredos ibex, not even naming the easy, boring ibex, Carpathian chamois, Pyrenean chamois, desert bighorn, mule deer and lots and lots of elk. There is only one boot that I stuff in my duffel with complete confidence and that's the Kenetrek. As a side note, when I first received my Kenetreks I cheated on the break in miles prior to a chamois hunt. Guess what? I taped that hunt comfy and blister free.
My Ghandiesque hike down the stony path allowed me to meditate on a few things. 1) If you're coming out West, go cheap on your rifle or optics before your boots. You may or may not shoot. You will hike. 2) Scouting is about learning the turf, but also about working out the kinks before the starting shot is fired on opening day. I'm grateful I figured this boot fail out in June rather than on October 20th. 3) If it's your first time out in the Mountain West or you're trying any new tricks, throw every viable piece of footwear you own in a duffle. You may be surprised what works. My flip-flops kept me in the game€¦at least a little. 4) This one eliminates the previous three. Just put in some O.T. and buy the Kenetreks.
The Essentials Gear Box.
Our editors have hand-picked these essential pieces of gear to make you a more successful hunter when you hit the game trails this season.