Keep your Furry Best Friend Warm this Winter!

This weather has been a cold, freezing one for us this year! All I want to do is stay in bed or cuddled up on the couch, and try to stay warm. But as it is cold for us, it is cold for your loving animals. Fur or no fur, cold is cold. Please keep you animals inside during these types of weather. We here at Bass Pro Shop can help you and your furry best friend keep warm. As well help them gear up for the hunting season for the cold.

RedHead® Pet Throw-

blsnket 

While it keeps your pet warm, it will also protect your furniture at home or the back of your SUV from pet hair or dirt, the RedHead Pet Throw is a great all-purpose pet throw. http://www.basspro.com/RedHead-Pet-Throw/product/64063/

 

 

Woolrich Heritage Mattress Pet Bed-

bed

I love when my dog sleeps with me but there are plenty of times when he tries to take up the whole bed. Or sometimes smells for being outside. Here is the solution for those times! Giving your pet the same comfort as a bed, while you don't have to worry with getting your bed dirty or having to share that space. http://www.basspro.com/Woolrich-Heritage-Mattress-Pet-Bed/product/1311051014/

Ruffwear® Quinzee™ Insulated Dog Jacket-

kacket

 For you trips out to the ranch, your pet will be able to brave the elements in warmth and comfort with the Ruffwear Quinzee Insulated Dog Jacket. The fully-insulated Quinzee is made of a warm, weather-resistant material that protects your dog from extreme cold and rain. http://www.basspro.com/Ruffwear-Quinzee-Insulated-Dog-Jacket/product/11110805010446/

RedHead® Neoprene Dog Boots-

boots

Your dogs will love you even more once you get them these RedHead Neoprene Dog Boots! It helps save them of troublesome stickers, thorns, and cactus tines when out hunting. The No-slip bottom, great for snow and ice protection or traction on rough, dry, or rocky terrain. http://www.basspro.com/RedHead-Neoprene-Dog-Boots/product/81044/

 

With all this gear for them, you will be getting plenty of tail-waging and kisses from your best buds!

 

 

 

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Selecting the Right Boot This Season

By Bart Hiter

When it comes to hunting boots, today’s technology creates many different options to choose from.  But when purchasing your new boots, it is important to understand the conditions you will be hunting in. 

Redhead Bayou Zip Men's

Redhead Bayou Side Zip For Men

Early season may require a snakeboot like the RedHead Camo Bayou Side Zip or Bayou Lace-Up for protection in the warmer scouting season and on into bow season.  As the weather begins to cool, a more traditional lace-up boot might be more suited for early conditions.

Redhead Trialblazer Boot

Redhead Trailblazer Boot

Based on your location, there are a number of different boots to keep you warm and dry in any hunting environment.  Here in the southeast where the temperatures tend to be warmer, most hunters will go with a non-insulated, waterproof boot.   Ideal boots for these conditions would be the RedHead Trail Blazer, Silent Hide, or Trekker III.  Similar boots are available from well known brands such as Wolverine, Rocky, Under Armour, Danner and more.  For colder temperature areas, more insulation or Thinsulate will keep you warm as the season goes on.  Thinsulate is measured in grams and when you see a number in a boot description, it identifies the amount of insulation in the boot.  The higher the number, the warmer the boot.  To keep warm in colder temperatures, try the RedHead RCT 9” Insulated, Osage II, or Expedition.  Again, more boots are available through a variety of manufacturers.

Redhead RCT Boot

Redhead RCT Boot

 

No matter the situation, Bass Pro Shops has you covered for all your hunting boot needs.  Stop by and see our footwear specialist today.

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Rutting Elk in November?

 

 

Packing out

Elk Rutting in November ?

Photos by Mark Campagnola

 

Rutting elk in November? No way! The rut was over a month ago and you’re saying you seen these bulls breeding cows and bugling their heads off. Well that was my nephew TJ telling me this and he knows what he’s talking about. TJ started going out with me elk and turkey hunting when he was 8 learning everything he could about hunting, and now 25 years later he has turned out to be one of the best hunters and guide I know. If he said the elk were rutting, then they were rutting.

This whole hunt started back in the spring when my brother Gene, his girlfriend Sharon, her brother Mike, and his best friend Lin (wow I didn’t think I was going to get all that out) drew 4th season rifle bull tags for Southern Colorado. Out of the four only Gene had hunted elk before with over 40 years of experience, but he had a bummed up knee so he couldn’t walk long distances.

Mike's tasting I mean checking for freshness of elk droppings

Once they received their tags in the mail the planning began. We told them to be prepared for any type of weather from sunshine and 50 degrees to a blizzard. Mike and Lin live in Mississippi so they ran with this making multiple trips to Bass Pro in Pearl Mississippi, while Gene and Sharon did the same at our Denver Bass Pro Shop. If I was to write about all the equipment and clothing they all bought for this hunt this story would be about 15 pages long. Here’s a list of three of the most important pieces of equipment and clothing they bought. All hunters going out during this time of the year should also think about the weather a little more.

Mike glassing next to very large pondarosa pine

First off are the boots, to me this is one item I don’t want to skimp on. Mike and Lin got the Rocky 8” Long Range boot and Sharon bought the Red Head 8” Expedition Boots. They all got Red Head’s Endura Skin all season performance base layer and the XPS midweight 2.0 base layer. Layering was the no brainer because it was downright cold at sunrise, but as that morning sun came up smiling it started getting very warm so coats and vests started coming off and were attached to the back of our packs. Mike and Lin both went with the Red Head Hybrid Illuminator Pack which comes apart so you can have a day pack or a fanny pack or leave them together as one complete pack and have 3,801 cubic inches of space. On this hunt all these items proved to be the most important and the most abused than anything else.               

It had snowed 4 days before opening morning and with day time temperatures now reaching the mid 50’s a lot of snow had melted but nightly lows were in the low teens if not single digits. What this meant was crusted over snow that was impossible to be quite in while walking and then the midafternoon melt which turned to very sloppy, muddy, slippery, and sloppy and did I say very sloppy afternoon conditions. I was wearing my Red Head 16” Ultra Hunters with a very aggressive tread and sometimes I felt like I had sleeks on instead of treads. We were seeing elk every day, but either they weren’t legal bulls or no clean shot through the timber.Lunch time

One afternoon hunt Mike and myself saw a mature bull with 4 cows, Mike had no shot through the thick timber but I started wondering why would a mature bull have cows when they’re not in winter herds yet? I cow called with my Wayne Carlton Bull Hooker a few times and then I heard the bull bark like he was tending a harem of cows. Mike had never heard that sound so I explained to him that a mature bull will use that low tone bark during the rut when they have cows but you won’t hear it unless you’re close. Mike tightened the grip on his custom built 7mm Steyr just waiting for that bull to show. Unfortunately the sun won out on this game as it sank in the western sky.

Friday morning TJ and Lin went up the east side drainage to work their way around the north side of the mountain while Mike and I worked our way up the west drainage and then work our way over the upper south half of the mountain. Lin and I had gone up this trail opening morning when Lin saw one cow and we could hear more elk in the timber below us heading north. We had only made it about half way that day when we met up with TJ and Mike. TJ told us Thursday night that when the trail makes a hard right towards the east to keep heading about 200 yards and the trail would head up the mountain to where he wanted us to be. When we came up to this spot it was a small grove of aspen and a clear view of the trail that went almost straight up that side of the mountain. Mike looked up at the trail, then looked at me and said, and I quote, “there is no way in hell I’m going to walk up that trail”, that was a trail for mountain goats not humans.So we hunted around the base of that mountain heading towards the drainage that TJ and Lin where in. We had only crossed one set of fresh elk tracks up to this point and as we got closer to that drainage we ran into Gene and Sharon, they said Lin had killed a really nice 5X5. TJ and Lin had already deboned the meat and made it out with the front half and went back for the rest of that tasty meat and the head. Sharon said it would be about another hour, hour and a half before they make it to where we were, plus after that we still had another mile back to TJ’s truck. The anticipation was killing us to find out who, what, where and when it all had happened.

When we saw TJ and Lin coming up that trail, we could see that Lin had a nice wide set of antlers on his back. When all the congratulations were done and the initiation with blood on Lin’s face for killing his first bull they started telling us how it all happened.

The first words out of TJ’s mouth was that mornings hunt was excellent, they saw three big mature bulls breeding cows and bugling like it was the height of the rut. There was two huge bulls with cows but were just a little too far for Lin and a 5X5 that was within Lin’s range but TJ wanted to see if he could possibly get one of the other bigger bulls a little closer. Well, TJ tried both bugling and cow calling but to no avail; none of them wanted anything to do with his calling and he was completely ignored by all. Now TJ’s calling is great and I’ve had this same situation happen to me before and it sucks. So at that point the 5X5 was the only bull within range, so with Lin’s finger on the trigger he touched one off from his Remington 300 mag, and the 180 grain Hornady bullet dropped the bull dead in his tracks. According to TJ’s range finder that bull was 550 yards away.Lin's nice 5X5

Now I have seen some really weird stuff from Mother Nature over the years but elk rutting during the middle of November just tops my list in the "something is not right" category. How can this be? Cow elk have a gestation period between 249-262 days. Armed with this information the cows that were bred won’t have their calves till the very end of July going into mid-August, normally cows calve the last week of May going into the first or second week of June. This is a little over a month to late. If those calves are dropped mid-August then their chances of survival are slim to none. This is something I will definitely be watching come this spring; maybe, Mother Nature is trying to tell us something.

 

Mark Campagnola

Hunt Hard and Shoot Straight

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Get your ride on with Rocky's Ride Roper western boot like a boss!

If you are looking for an awesome dependable pair of boots then look no further. Your local Bass Pro Shops have the perfect boots for you. They are the Rocky Ride Roper western work boot. This boot can do anything you need it to from going to work in to go out on the town. The round toe design is a perfect fit for the stirrups on or horse or the foot peg of your motorcycle.

The Ride Roper is full grain leather with an oil resistant outsole. It also has an 8 layer Rocky Ride performance system. There is a steel shank for balance and durability. The pull on design is great for those men on the go.

The 8-layer Rocky Ride performance system ensures that your feet will receive cushioning, support and stability. The Ride footbed is made of polyurethane, with each step, your feet will feel the softness of the cushioning. As a result of the welt construction, this Original Ride boot is extremely durable.

The sizes for this boot start at 8 and go to a 13 and they also come in a wide width for those men who need a little extra space in their shoes.

Hurry up while supplies last because these boots will not last long!! Great boots for a reasonable price just $129.99 and starting Aug. 3 they will be on sale for $79.97 and once they go on sale they will fly out the door. SO when the Hunting Classic starts get yourself down to your local Bass Pro and get you a pair of these great boots. Trust me you will not regret it at all! http://fall hunting classic http://rocky boots http://western boots http://bass pro shop

Due to its lack of adornment, this pull-on boot could easily be overlooked. Yet, with this level of quality and comfort, you can’t go wrong. This is the boot that you will still be wearing for years to come.

 

 

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Something For Everyone In The Great Outdoors

No matter what kind of outdoor activities you like, you are sure to be able to find something to do at Rocky Fork Lakes Conservation Area or Finger Lakes State Park.  Whether you like bird watching, hiking, hunting, outdoor photography, fishing, boating, camping, or even off-roading, there is something for everyone of all ages.  Rocky Fork Lakes Conservation Area and Finger Lakes State Park are located just North of Columbia off of Highway 63, making it just a short drive down the road from Bass Pro Shops and convenient to stop in and pick up your hunting or fishing permit, fishing supplies, hunting gear, hiking boots, binoculars, or any of your outdoor needs along the way.

Lake

Rocky Fork Lakes Conservation Area has approximately 2,200 acres of forest mixed with old fields, grassland, savanna and 20 fishable lakes and ponds, making this Conservation Area  heavily used by many people for every type of outdoor activity suitable for the area. The main lake, Rocky Fork Lake, is 52 acres in size and also has a concrete boat ramp which makes it easy to put in your new boat from Tracker Marine Boat Center.  If you are looking for a great place for that outdoor experience of hunting, fishing, or nature, this is the place.

Fishing

Finger Lake State Park has 1,128 acres of natural landscaping wildflowers, hills, and streams making it a recreational playground.  If you are looking for a nice place to do some camping and picnicking, this is a great place for those adventures. This park also offers activities such as swimming, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and even ATV off-roading.   If you are in the market for a new ATV Tracker Marine Boat Center can help you out with that too!

ATV

So whatever your pleasure is be sure to stop by Bass Pro Shops and gear up for a fun summer of outdoor adventure!

Rocky Fork Lakes Conservation Area Map

Finger Lakes State Park Map

 

 

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Fishing Footwear

 It’s that time of year again to start getting geared up for Fishing. With the Fishing Classic going on I want to take a moment to share some insight on the “Other” Gear you need besides your rod, reel and bait. With the large interest in Trout Fishing in East Tennessee waders and wading shoes are essentials to an enjoyable experience. They are as important as your fly rod and flies; not only for Fly fishing but any type of river, stream or brook fishing. Waders provide you with the way to get into the action instead of just bank fishing. Depending on the time of year you do the majority of your fishing will determine what type of waders you will need. Also waders come in two styles, one with an attached boot or one with a stocking foot. Lightweight breathable waders are perfect for late spring, summer and early fall fishing. My personal favorite is the White River front pocket stocking foot waders. They are perfect for any type of fishing you are planning this year. They are made of a strong nylon fabric with plenty of room to accommodate additional clothing underneath, such as wader pants and wading socks. I really like the front pocket with it zipper closing the pocket so you don’t lose you valuables and allows easy access to your tools of the trade such as baits and flies and your clippers. At $149.99 they are a great value and I would put them up against any waders made by Simms or Orvis for quality. As you may know those brands of waders can run you from $200.00 to over $400.00 depending on they style you want. An even better value during the fishing classic you can purchase these waders for only $99.97, now that is an extreme savings on a dependable, durable and perfect wader.

For the year round fisherman you may want to invest a little more and purchase another style of waders for the colder months of the year. A neoprene wader from Bass Pro Shops provides you warmth and comfort. The standard type of neoprene wader is the 3.5mm brown stocking foot wader by Redhead. Retailing at $79.99 this is a great value. There are also other types of neoprene waders, depending on how cold the weather outside is may influence your choice of thickness of neoprene, the thicker the better for warmth. The thickest we carry here at Bass Pro Shops is the extreme neoprene wader; at 7mm this is very durable and strong. It also comes equipped with a boot with 1000 grams of thinsulate to keep those feet warm. In two camo patterns, Mossy Oak Break Up and Max4, this is perfect of those of us who enjoy Waterfowl hunting. Retailing at $199.99 this is a great value. If you are trout or small mouth fishing you can get by with the 3.5mm neoprene.

To go with those new waders you just purchased we have on hand multiple styles of wading boots to fit your needs. Again depending on the type of fishing you are doing, or to be more precise the type of body of water you are fishing in you can go with a cleated sole boot or a felt sole boot. The river bottom will determine which boot fits you need better. When fishing in a muddy bottom river the cleated sole boot will provide you with the traction you need. When heading in to rocky bottom rivers and streams the felt bottom boot provided you with more traction that the cleated bottom. They most economical boot we carry here at Bass Pro Shops is the Redhead wading boot retailing at $39.99. This boot comes in either cleated or felt. If you’re like me and fish both types of rivers, instead of purchasing two types of boots you can purchase the Korkers style of boot. This company makes in my opinion the best boot and shoes for fishing on the market today. With its interchangeable soles (Yes they provide you with two pairs of soles) you get the best of both worlds. Retailing at $109.99, they are truly the best wading boot I have ever wore and are my personal preference when I trout fish.

So now you have purchased your waders and wading boots. You may ask what ‘Other” Gear am I going to need. Aside from heading to our fishing department and getting expert advice on your rod and reel purchase, you will need to get a great wading stick. The White River brand exclusive to Bass Pro Shops makes the best folding wading stick I have ever used. It also comes in a case so you can carry with you attached around your waist belt.

Well now I have you dressed for one of the best adventures you can have in the outdoors, in closing I would like to say one last thing. Remember to be safe out there. When you are fishing alone make sure you tell someone where you will be and when you plan to return. Keep in mind that you are fishing in the river not next to the river and anything can happen. If you happen to fall into the river don’t panic. Yes your waders will fill up with water. Remain calm and simply detach the shoulder straps and slide out of your waders. And lastly when you decide to make your gear purchases come by and see us in the footwear department, one of our knowledgeable associates will be more than happy to show you what type of gear you need. Thanks for your time and no matter what type of adventures you have planned this year, be safe and enjoy it as much as you possibly can.

 

Lee D. Bridges

Footwear Team Lead

Bass Pro Shops

Sevierville, TN

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Predator Hunting: A Winter Hunting Adventure

Normally at the end of December most of us put away our hunting gear and begin the long wait until spring turkey season. You might want to reconsider the putting away of your hunting gear as you would be missing the fast growing and very exciting winter sport of predator hunting. You don’t have to spend much time in the woods to know that there are a lot of coyotes in our area. These extremely wary animals are a real challenge to hunt and give a good excuse to get out of the house for some exciting hunting. Winter is a prime time for predator hunting but like any winter sport staying warm is a paramount priority. Not only is there a major need for staying warm but given the extreme wariness of coyotes and their excellent vision effective camouflage is also essential. Whitewater Outdoors Pro Series Reversible Sherpa Snow Jacket and their Pro Series Reversible Sherpa Snow Bibs in either Realtree AP Snow or Realtree depending on whether there is snow cover or not would be good choices for a winter hunt.

 Jacket 1                             Bibs 1

Winter boots are always a must and either Danner Pronghorn 8 inch Gore Tex Waterproof 1200 Gram Thinsulate Hunting Boots or Rocky 10 inch Bear Claw 3D Gore Tex Insulated Waterproof Hunting Boots are a good choice for cold weather hunting. If you are likely to encounter real wet conditions then the LaCrosse Alpha SST Waterproof 1200 Gram Thinsulate Insulated Hunting Boots would be a good choice.

Boots 1                       Boots 2                       Boots 3 

Bows, shotguns and rifles are allowed for coyote hunting but there are specific guidelines as to the types of shot that can be used with shotguns and also when rifles and shotguns can be used. It is a good idea to consult the Mass Fish and Game laws before deciding which type of firearm to use. The Mass Fish and Game laws are also important to determine what the season is for coyote hunting as they have recently changed. A number of different methods are utilized in hunting coyotes and these include spot and stalk (extremely difficult), baiting and calling. Each of these methods requires its own specific skills and techniques.

 

If you are interested in learning about this fast growing type of hunting or if you would like to bring your coyote hunting to a new level you will want to join us at Bass Pro Shops on January 7 and January 8 from 11:00am to 4:00pm for our third annual Predator Hunting Weekend. There will be seminars on coyote hunting and calling demos by predator hunting pros. There will also be a seminar on the Massachusetts’ coyote hunting regulations by a representative of the Mass Fish and Wildlife Department. Also scheduled are seminars on gun and ammunition selection and the selection and use of optics for coyote hunting. There will also be product display tables and industry representatives available to answer your questions and offer tips on hunting coyotes.

 

Hunt safe,

Don Nelson

Bass Pro Shops

Foxborough

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Hunting Boots for Women

By Alyssa Haukom

Varied land features call for a boot with a combination of good materials.

Stepping out has taken on a new meaning for women who enjoy the outdoors.  We're breaking new ground and in ever increasing numbers, enjoying what many women in the past didn't consider pursuing: a passion for the hunt.  For many, we're not just simply heading into the woods, we're venturing into new territory altogether when we embark on a hunting trip.  A critical component of any successful hunting adventure is choosing the right gear.  While many of us have a closet full of shoes, we still aren't sure what features to look for in a hunting boot.  Make no mistake here; nothing can end a hunt quicker than sore, cold, wet feet.  To make sure your first step is in the right direction, here are some tips on selecting the correct boot for your hunt.

 

Terrain and Climate:

 

Boot selection should focus on two key considerations of your hunt: terrain and climate.  Both of these factors will dictate the type of boot you'll need.  Many boots sold are available in non-insulated or insulated styles, and often in waterproof styles also.  Changing weather is common during hunting seasons, and you can't go wrong in guaranteeing dry feet by ordering a pair of waterproof boots!

 

Study the weather of your intended hunting grounds, researching the temperatures and weather you'll likely encounter while hunting there.   Know what type of land and land features you'll be setting your feet on. Use these criteria when searching for the right boot:

 

Mountainous, rocky or uneven terrain:  This type of terrain requires boots with good, stiff ankle support, stiffer soles for stability, good lacing system for support, padded collar and tongue for comfort, waterproof protection for changing conditions, and good moisture-wicking properties to accommodate a lot of hiking and stalking. Common materials for "high-country" boots are leather or oiled leather uppers with rubber "bands" or toe guards for abrasion resistance and protection from rocks.

 

Upland hunting/open fields: Flatter terrain means you can use a softer, lighter weight boot, especially appreciated for the miles of walking you may do, and softer soles with less tread or traction are required. Lightweight leather or Cordura Nylon uppers are common, with waterproof and breathable linings a necessity.  Also look for extra padding on the collar and tongue for all-day comfort.  

 

Wet, sloppy ground calls for rubber boots. Lowlands/marshes or swamps: Wet, sloppy ground calls for rubber boots or snake boots (if you hunt in the south).  These boots are the tallest you'll find, with women's boots reaching 15-inch tops.  Be sure to look for a snug ankle fit so they won't pull off in the mud, and side cinches or buckles at the top to eliminate a noisy, sloppy fit when you walk, and to help seal out moisture. A removable foot bed is a definite plus, as rubber boots will become damp and won't dry out easily overnight unless you use boot dryers.  Be certain to check the outer sole for cleats or lugs; a necessity for good traction in the mud.  Although a great all around choice for water protection and varied terrain, rubber boots are not a comfortable boot to do extensive walking on uneven ground-- they lack adequate support and cushioning needed for longer treks.

 

Varied terrain: dense woods, ridges, meadows:  Varied land features call for a boot with varied features -- leather or nylon uppers (or a combination of the two) with a more flexible sole, breathable, waterproof linings, stable ankle support without being too stiff, and a medium weight and height.  This will be a good all-around boot you'll reach for often and wear for many years if you make a smart purchase and a wise investment now.

 

Weights and Grams

 

The weight of the boot you're selecting should be of concern, especially if you'll be doing a lot of walking.  The fabric you choose, type of sole, and height and insulation will all contribute to the overall weight of your boot.  The majority of boots will weigh anywhere from 3 to 4 pounds, with leather or heavily insulated pac boots hitting the scales in the 5-pound range.

 

Generally; choosing a lighter boot that's non-insulated or one with just 200-gram insulation, will suffice for more active hunts, hunts in early season, or in milder weather.

 

For mid-season, cooler weather or less active hunts, it's imperative to purchase a quality-insulated boot with 400 to 800 grams of insulation.  Thinsulate offers excellent insulation without adding bulk and weight-a great choice for hunts where you may do a combination of walking and standing.  Changing mid-season conditions mean unpredictable weather, so be sure to purchase a pair of boots that are waterproof and breathable.

 

For late-season frigid weather and stand hunting, heavily-insulated, waterproof boots are a must.  Heavy? Yes. The heaviest you'll find on the market, usually topping 5 pounds, but they're warm, and warm is what you'll need.  Pac boots will often have removable liners with a cuff to seal out the cold air and snow, and cleated soles for good traction in snow and ice.  Look for boots with insulation of 1,000 to 1,200 grams for the coldest, wintry conditions.

 

Too much width means a lack of support and blisters on your feet if the boot doesn't fit snugly.    Anatomy of a woman's foot

 

The key to buying women's footwear is in the width of the footwear.  Women's sizes are designed to fit the narrower width of a women's foot.  In addition, women's shoes and boots are cut to accommodate our narrower heel cup, meaning the heel will be trimmer than the forefoot width on women's boots.  Men's boot widths generally measure the same from forefoot to heel. 

The average width ("B") of a woman's size 8 boot is 3.2 inches, while a man's average width ("D") in a size 10 boot is 4 inches wide. That's nearly an inch wider than we need.  Try on a man's boot and you'll quickly see how "sloppy" it feels.  Too much width means a lack of support and blisters on your feet if the boot doesn't fit snugly.  Your feet will suffer and so will your hunt.


If you do have wide feet, and are unable to find a wider width ("C" or "D") offered in women's boots, then you may need to try a man's size to accommodate your needs.   To find your correct size, choose a size that is one and a half to two times smaller than what you wear in a woman's size. (Example: size 9 women's usually translates to a size 7 1/2 men's).

 

Dressing your feet for the elements

 

Your feet endure a lot out there, so don't neglect to dress them properly before heading out.  In milder weather, a single wool or synthetic-blend sock is all you need.  But as the temperatures drop, you'll need to be prepared to add a layer or two.  Mid-season autumn weather usually requires a bit more bundling; add a layer by starting with a good 100-percent Polypropylene liner followed by a wool, or wool-blend sock.  The liner will absorb perspiration and draw the dampness away from your foot, while the wool will keep them dry and warm, regardless if they are wet or not.  Stay away from cotton - they don't have the insulating or moisture-wicking properties needed for warmth.  If the temperatures really plummet, add another wool sock layer, or switch to a thicker wool sock with the liner.  Don't like itchy wool?  Not to worry-look for Merino wool, the ultimate choice for warm, itch-free, soft wool.  Look for socks that have a "vertical ribbing" design on the shin area and some spandex in the blend, both will keep them from falling down around your ankles.

 

If your feet are chronically cold, or chill easily, consider purchasing your heavily insulated boots one-half to one size larger than your normal size to accommodate layering with thick, wool socks. 

 

"Boot covers" offer extra insulation on the stand. "My feet are always cold"

 

Still got cold feet?  A common complaint among women, here are two suggestions:


Try foot-warmer insoles inside your boots.  Like hand-warmers, these chemical, foot- shaped insoles are activated by air and placed under your foot inside your boot.  They will give your feet several hours of heat.  Another option is to try insulated "over boots."  These boot insulators should be carried to your stand location, and then slipped over your hunting boots once you're settled in.  They're lightweight and sure to give your feet extra warmth and protection from the cold. 

 

Choosing a boot with features you'll need, wearing good socks, and keeping your toes warm and dry will keep you in the field longer, increase your odds at being successful and make your hunt more enjoyable.  Take a step in the right direction by researching your hunting conditions and footwear options first, then selecting the best boot for you hunt.

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Hunting Boot Buyer's Guide

By Wade Bourne

One good indicator of boot quality is thickness of the leather.

Boots are the Rodney Dangerfield members of a hunter's wardrobe.  They rarely get the respect they deserve.

     
This is because most hunters don't know much about boots - their materials, features and functions.  More boots are bought by whim than through studied selection.  Few customers -- know what constitutes good value in boots and how to match an individual's needs with available boot options.

     
This is ironic, since boots play such a critical role in success in the outdoors.  Boots which are comfortable, which keep feet protected and dry, go a long way toward enhancing a hunter's pleasures.  Conversely, boots which rub, which leak or which don't keep feet warm can ruin a trip in a hurry.

     
Following is "Hunting Boots from A to Z."  This guide has been compiled with the assistance of some of the top hunting boot designers in the country.  Readers should study the following sections to educate themselves about hunting boots features.  Then, the next time their old boots wear out and a new pair is needed, they will be more able to make a more informed selection.

 

Boot Materials

     
Modern hunting boots come in three primary materials:  leather, fabric, and rubber -- each of which has its own unique characteristics.

     
Leather is the most traditional outer material.  Several types of leather are used in bootmaking:  cow hide, boar hide, kangaroo, etc.  Of these, cow hide is predominant.  Cow hide is strong.  It wears well.  It is less expensive than other leathers.  Considering its price and performance, this is perhaps the best outer boot material in existence.

     
A green (untanned) cow hide is thick, so it is normally split into two layers before tanning.  "Top leather" shows the grain of the outer skin, and it is the toughest of the two layers.  The "split" layer is the bottom, fleshy side, and it tans with a smooth or suede finish.  This "split" is tough in its own right, and being less expensive than top leather, it constitutes a very good per-dollar value.  Its main drawback is its tendency to abrade, owing to its smooth surface.

     
One good indicator of boot quality is thickness of the leather.  Thicker leather provides more protection and durability.  When considering leather boots, check exposed edges for thickness.

     
Another widely used leather in bootmaking is boar hide.  This leather is extremely tough.  However, it has a very coarse outer grain, which some consumers do not like. 

     
Kangaroo leather offers a combination of armor-like toughness and light weight.  (Its fibers grow in a cross-hatch pattern, which provides this strength.)  Because of these factors, this leather is typically used in upland hunting boots.  Kangaroo boots are typically expensive because of the cost of this specialty leather.

     
Many leather boots are oil-tanned, which means they are impregnated with Neatsfoot-type oil.  This process helps turn water, but it does not render the leather 100% waterproof.  However, full waterproofness of leather can be achieved through chemical treatment or impregnation with silicon.

     

The best application for rubber boots is wearing in a wet environment.

Many modern boots are made with full fabric outers, or combinations or fabric with leather and/or rubber.  These fabrics include natural fibers, manmade polymers and nylons.

     
Canvas (cotton) is the most prevalent of the natural fabrics, though it is rarely used in serious hunting boots because it absorbs water, leading to mildew and rot.  Manmade polymer threads are woven into a fabric which is stronger than canvas, but not as strong as nylon.  Boots made from polymer fabrics are inexpensive, but their longevity is consistent with their cost.

     
Far and away, the best fabric for boots is nylon, which is tough and a good value for its cost.  One of the most widely used nylon fabrics is Cordura, which comes in a range of thicknesses.  Cordura has a rough texture and abrades and becomes fuzzy through extended wear.  However, this material is very hardy as an outer material in boots.

     
The advantages of fabrics in boot construction are several.  They are cheaper than leather.  They are lighter than leather.  They can be colored or camouflaged in any pattern.  Fabric boots require no breaking in.

     
Fabrics' disadvantages include:  their strands may eventually unravel due to abrasion and pulling; they offer less protection than leather against sharp sticks or rocks; and they have more seams, which increases the chance of a blown seam at an inopportune time.

     
Boot buyers might consider the following guidelines for choosing between leather and fabric boots.  For sporadic or light duty use, all-fabric boots are sufficient.  For moderate use, fabric/leather combo boots are a good choice.  (The leather should be used where the boots are more likely to receive their hardest wear - toe, sides, etc.)  For serious hunting, especially in steep or rocky terrain, all leather boots are best.

     
Rubber is the third main boot material.  Its primary feature is its efficiency in turning water.  However, rubber boots trap and hold body moisture, so feet in rubber boots will get wet from their own perspiration.  Also, rubber is susceptible to tearing from sharp objects.  The best application for rubber boots is wearing in a wet environment, especially during long periods of inactivity (sitting in a deerstand or a duck blind) so the feet won't perspire.

 

Boot Construction

     
In bootmaking, "construction" means how the sole is attached to the uppers.

     
Goodyear Welt is the most traditional and most durable of all construction methods.  In this process, a welt (ribbon of leather or rubber) is stitched to the boot upper, insole and lining in one operation.  Then the outsole is stitched to the bottom of the welt.  The outsole is wider than the boot, and stitching is apparent.

     
Goodyear Welt boots are extremely tough.  They provide excellent traction and the best lateral stability of all boots.  Also, they are easily repairable at any shoe shop.  On the downside, Goodyear Welt boots are more expensive than boots of other construction types.

     
In cement construction, leather is wrapped around a "last" (foot-shaped form) and cemented to the bottom of an insole.  Then the outsole is cemented to the bottom of the insole.  This process requires minimal labor, so these boots cost less than other construction types.  Their main disadvantage is that, if a good cement bond is not achieved, the outsole can pull loose, and they are difficult to repair.

     
"Process 82" involves stitching a leather upper to a welt and stretching over a heated bronze form.  Then a pure rubber outsole is molded directly to the leather.  Thus, the welt and vulcanized bottom become one.  This process is inexpensive, and the result is one of the most durable construction processes.  Disadvantages include slightly higher weight and the inability to waterproof these boots without using a waterproof membrane bootie.

     

Air bob outsoles are good in rocks, dry dirt, and mud, plus they are self-cleaning.

Moccasin construction is what its name implies.  The foot is totally enclosed in a leather moccasin, then the outsole is stitched on the bottom.  This construction is very tough.  However, if the cement outer bond breaks down, grit can work in between the leather and the outsole and cause discomfort to the wearer.  Also, moccasin construction is done by hand, so it is expensive.

 

Boot Outsoles

     
"Outsole" is the term for the bottom surface of the boot, what actually "digs into the dirt."  Outsoles come in a variety of materials and tread designs for different terrain conditions.

     
Manufacturers typically develop outsole designs that are different from their competitors'.  However, most outsoles can be classified into one of the four following categories:

     
Vibram Lugs - A "lug" is "a projection by which a thing is held or supported."  In bootmaking, a lug is a hard rubber cleat with a sharp outside edge for digging or wedging into hard surfaces such as rocks, dry dirt or clay.  Thus, lug soles have dependable records in rugged terrain.  They are workhorses which are typically used when conditions are demanding and grades are steep.  Their drawback is that, since the lugs are deep and closely spaced, mud packs around them and is difficult to get out.

     
Air Bobs - Air bob outsoles provide great traction in a broad range of terrain conditions.  Air bob soles are dotted with rounded knobs which have hollow cores.  These "bobs" flex when contacting hard surfaces.  Each bob acts as an independent claw or finger, gripping where it contacts the ground.  Air bob outsoles are good in rocks and dry dirt.  They are equally efficient in mud, plus they are self-cleaning.  Their rounded design and abundance of space between bobs discourages mud buildups.  Air bobs make for a great all-purpose outsole.

     
Shallow Tread - These outsoles have a thin, wavy pattern for use in mud, grass and other slick walking surfaces.  Their main purposes are to provide traction while not picking up mud.  These soles are typically used on rubber boots and upland hunting boots.  They are not suitable for steep terrain.

     
Hiking/Athletic - Athletic outsoles have shallow lugs which are omni-directional.  They are very general in purpose.  They provide fair traction, shallow grip and light weight for all-purpose use.  Their main disadvantage is that they are not self-cleaning.  They will pick up and hold mud, which diminishes their grip and adds to their weight.

 

Boot Height

     
Hunting boots come in a range of heights from ankle high to almost-knee high.  The standard height is 8-10 inches (measured from the top of the sole).  Boots in this range provide plenty ankle support and lower leg protection.  They are tall enough to allow wearers to wade through shallow creeks or puddles without having water come over their boot tops.  Also, standard height boots with gusseted tongues (stitched up the sides) will help keep out seeds, pebbles, etc.

     
For walking in rough terrain where steep climbs or descents are expected, hunters should wear boots at least 8 inches high for strong ankle support.  Otherwise, boot height is a matter of personal preference in terms of comfort, support and leg protection.  Taller boots provide more support, but they also weigh more (and cost more).

 

Boot height is a matter of personal preference in terms of comfort, support and leg protection.

Insulation, Lining, Insole

     
Insulation provides dead air space in boot walls which traps and retains body heat.  The more dead air space per square inch of insulation, the more efficient it is.

     
Some hunters have better circulation and greater tolerance to cold than others, so the "right amount" of boot insulation is a personal matter.  Those who seldom have cold feet should stick with lighter insulation weights, while those who have chronic problems with cold feet should go heavier.  Also, hunters who walk continuously will need less insulation than others who sit or stand inactively for long periods.

     
Boot insulation comes in three main forms:  micro-fiber insulation (i.e., Thinsulate), felt, and foam.  Micro-fiber insulation is a padding which contains thousands of tiny fibers which provide loft and dead air space.  This type insulation is very effective at a reasonable cost.  It comes in different weights (200 grams, 400 grams, 1000 grams).  The higher the number, the greater the insulating capacity.  Also, heavier insulations are thicker, so boots with 1000 gram Thinsulate have bulkier walls than similar boots with 400 or 200 grams insulation.

     
Felt booties inside "pac boots" are a traditional combination for extremely cold temperatures.  However, felt is bulky and heavy, and it tends to hold foot moisture.

     
Foam insulation provides dead air space, but it is less efficient than other boot insulations.  (It takes more quantity for an equivalent insulating index.)  Thus, foam-insulated boots are bulky and typically lower in quality and price than similar boots with micro-fiber or felt insulation.    

     
When deciding on the right amount of insulation, the following general guidelines will apply to most hunters.  For bitter cold conditions and periods of inactivity, consider boots with felt liners or 1000 grams of Thinsulate.  For general purpose wear in temperate climates, boots with 400 grams of Thinsulate are a good choice.  For active wear in temperate to warm climates, consider boots with 200 grams of Thinsulate, or perhaps no insulation at all.

     
Another consideration is where insulation is applied in boots.  Some boots have insulation over the instep and up the sides of the foot, but not over the toes.  Properly insulated boots have insulation completely over the toes, top and sides of the foot.  Heat rises, and it will escape through the top of boots if no insulation is present to hold it in.

     
A boot lining is the material which surrounds the foot and directly contacts it.  Its purpose is to provide a good fit and feel.  A lining decreases friction where the inner boot contacts the foot, thus reducing the chance of blisters.  A boot lining also holds insulation in place, and it provides inside protection for waterproof membrane booties.

     
Most boots have linings of leather or manmade fabrics.  Leather linings are a traditional mark of quality.  However, modern nylon and polyester linings are softer, lighter, more comfortable and less expensive than leather linings.  The best linings are nylon fabrics, which last longer and wear better than other linings.  (A lining of Cambrelle is an industry standard.)

     
The insole is the inside bottom of the boot - what the foots stands on.  It defines how much room the foot has to move and flex inside the boot.  Overall, the insole determines the shape, size and fit of the boot as well as the comfort level.

     
Most modern insoles are made from fiberboard which is treated to prevent bacteria and odor buildup.  These insoles are lighter in weight and less expensive than leather insoles, which they replaced.  Also, some companies are now fitting hunting boots with removable orthotic inserts molded from foam.  These inserts are in the form of a foot, with extra support in the arch and heel areas.  They provide additional shock absorption, and they insulate the bottom of the foot from temperature extremes.

 

Waterproofness

     
Waterproofness in boots in achieved by using waterproof leather, incorporating a waterproof membrane bootie, or molding boots from rubber.

     
Waterproof leather is treated with silicon or other chemicals which causes the fibers to swell and lock out water.  These boots still "breathe" (allow foot moisture to pass from the inside of the boot to the outside), though not as well as do boots with waterproof membrane booties.  The seams of waterproof leather boots are sealed with rubber cement, and non-absorbing nylon thread is used in the stitching.  Top quality waterproof leather boots, properly maintained, will provide long-lasting service.

     
To maintain waterproof leather boots, hose off mud and dirt at the end of the day. If necessary, clean them with a soft bristle brush, then allow them to dry at room temperature (not by the fire!).  Do not use soap or oil-based treatments on waterproof leather boots.  Instead, treat them occasionally with a silicon spray.

     
Sewing a waterproof membrane bootie (i.e., Gore-Tex) between boots' outer and inner materials is another way to keep water out.  These membranes have tiny pores which allow sweat vapor to escape from inside the boot but keep water molecules out.  Thus, "Gore-Tex boots" are waterproof, but they also breathe, which keeps feet dry and warm.  (Some boot models incorporate both waterproof leather and a waterproof membrane liner for ultimate waterproofness.)

 

Lacing Systems

     
Several types of eyelets, hooks and rings are available for lacing boots.  Following is a list of these hardware types and their characteristics.

     
Eyelets:  These round grommets are the strongest, least expensive lacing system.  However, they also require the longest time to lace and unlace.  Laces must be threaded through and tightened at each pair of eyelets for a snug fit.

     
D-Rings:  Laces pass easily through these hanging D-shaped rings, which provide speed in lacing.  Also, since D-rings put no tension on the laces, one pull will tighten or loosen several junctions simultaneously.  However, D-rings won't hold tension on laces once they're tightened.  For this reason, D-rings are typically used in combination with eyelets or cinch hooks to offer both lacing speed and a strong grip.

     
Hooks:
  Metal hooks are the fastest lacing system, but they are the least secure.  If the laces loosen while the boots are worn, they may work out of a hook, and the boots will become unlaced.  The strongest hooks (and most costly) are machined; stamped hooks are weaker and less expensive.  Also, the best attachment system is with small steel washers to hold hooks in place.  Hooks that are crimped directly onto the leather at the back of the hole tend to "eat" their way through the hole over time and pull free.  Thus, hooks without washer backings are a sign of lesser quality.

     
Cinch hooks:  These are similar to standard hooks, but they are narrower in the notch.  When a lace is pulled tight through a cinch hook, the hook will hold it securely until a knot is tied.  Cinch hooks are frequently used at the flex notch (where the boot is designed to bend).  This allows someone lacing boots to keep tension in the lower eyelets or rings while the upper part of the boot is laced.

     
Many boots offer combinations of the above lacing hardware.  The best way to test a particular lacing system is to put the boots on, then lace them completely.  Check for security of lacing, speed/ease of lacing, tightness and overall comfort.

     
When it comes to laces, the best option is round braided nylon laces.  These are long-lasting, and they flatten under tension and provide a good grip.  Conversely, laces of leather or cotton will eventually rot and break when pulled tight during lacing.

 

Making the Right Choice

     
Great values exist in modern hunting boots, thanks to new materials and manufacturing technologies.  Some insulated waterproof models retail for less than $100.  These boots offer reliable service for hunters who don't get into the field very often and who have a hard time justifying big bucks for top line boots. 

     
On the other hand, highest quality boots provide exceptional durability and comfort.  They typically sell for $200 or more.  These boots are for the avid, frequent hunter who needs the best footwear and is willing to pay for it.

     
Hunters shopping for new boots should carefully consider how they will be used.  Will they be worn more for walking or stand hunting?  Will the ground be rocky, muddy or sandy?  Will the terrain be hilly or flat?  How important is waterproofness, weight, insulation, ruggedness, ankle support, etc?  What is the best lacing system?

     
By referring to the sections above, a hunter needing new boots can answer these questions, then pick a pair tailored to his specific needs.  The guesswork is gone.  Whim is replaced by knowledge, and the results are more comfortable feet and more enjoyable forays into the backcountry.

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Antelope Spot and Stalk Prep Guide

By Alyssa Haukom

The antelope is often referred to in the west as a "speed goat" and for good reason.

Ready to spice up your bowhunting with an antelope spot and stalk hunt?  Then be ready to boost your skills up a notch by  preparing months in advance for perhaps one of the most challenging, exciting, and frustrating hunts you'll likely encounter.

  

The antelope is often referred to in the west as a "speed goat" and for good reason.  It's the fastest North American animal with recorded speeds of up to 70 mph on the open prairie. 
Additionally, their eyesight is superb; comparable to 8-power binoculars, making a stalk extremely difficult on arid land that offers, at most, thigh-high grass, sage brush or cactus for cover.

 

As you approach, be aware of wind direction being careful to keep the wind in your face.  You'll also quickly learn to use the land's natural features to conceal your approach using the buttes and valleys to your advantage.  If antelope spot you - even at great distances - you're spot and stalk hunt usually ends instantly; so be prepared to begin stalks up to a mile away on unwary goats.

  

Excellent optics are a must - plan on using a spotting scope of  15-45x60mm power, (waterproof , compact with rubber armoring for protection) for locating goats and a pair of lightweight, compact binoculars in 8X42 or 10x42 magnification held closely to your body with a harness system while executing your stalk.

   

Here a bowhunter hides amid the sagebrush before glassing the area behind her for antelope.

Keeping gear out of your way but quickly assessable is imperative.  Count on wearing binoculars and a backpack quiver (if you shoot without a quiver attached to your bow) on your upper body,  a rangefinder, water bottle and knife on your belt, a license, cell phone, toilet paper, compass, flashlight, and snack bars in your pockets.  You must equip yourself to be mobile while keeping yourself as invisible and silent as possible.  Portable decoys are a key element to getting in close in open terrain.  Use antelope decoys which are lightweight to carry, quickly assembled, and easily held upright with just one hand, leaving the other hand free to tote a bow during a stalk.

  

You will cover miles on any given day; wear extremely comfortable, breathable and lightweight boots for long treks on rocky, dry terrain.  A cap or head net is a must for concealing your face from both the antelope and the elements.  If excessive heat is a factor, which can easily happen even in September, consider wearing a 3D suit or camo bug suit with shorts and t-shirt underneath.  Other alternatives are cotton-poly "tropical" weight camouflage pants and shirt, although these lighter weight fabrics will not give knees and elbows the protection you may desire when crawling along the ground. 


Wearing lightweight knee and elbow pads is an alternative to consider for making crawling approaches more tolerable when wearing lightweight camo.

  

By far, the single most important factor in preparing for an antelope spot and stalk is preparing yourself mentally and physically for the shot.  Gear typically used for whitetails will work equally well on the similarly sized Pronghorn which averages 100 to 125 lbs. in weight.   It's imperative that several basic guidelines be followed:

  • Shooting practice begins months in advance of your hunt
  • Shooting is done regularly, and
  • Shooting to much longer distances than normal is mastered.

     

On the open prairies, the lack of obstacles makes bow shots to long distances easily executed.  The key is executing the shot quickly and accurately as even a small movement by an antelope 50 yards away can really mess up a shot.

  

Use antelope decoys which are lightweight to carry, quickly assembled, and easily held upright with just one hand, leaving the other hand free to tote a bow during a stalk.

Mastering shots up to 60 yards is ideal, keeping in mind your abilities and your bows kinetic energy.  If unable to execute accurate shots with the required energy for a humane kill shot, then practice to 50 yards - or whatever you determine you can confidently and accurately achieve on a routine basis.  Know your limits and don't exceed them!

   

You'll be mildly surprised at the regularity in which antelope are encountered at distances of 50 to 100 yards and how challenging it is to creep undetected closer than 40 or 50 yards.  Distance estimation skills must be superb.   Expect to use a rangefinder constantly even if you estimate distance well.  The wide open prairies make it very deceiving for guessing distances and if unaccustomed to hunting this type of terrain it compounds the problem.  Don't chance blowing a shot after stalking for several hours! 


Take a few seconds, range the distance, then shoot.  You'll find a variety of excellent compact and lightweight rangefinders that can be carried easily on a belt during a stalk.

  

Keep in mind that both bucks and does sport horns (yes horns; their horn sheaths are shed annually and horns grow continuously throughout their life, unlike antlers).  Does or younger bucks are usually easily identifiable as their horns generally do not protrude above the length of their ears (about 2 to 4"), with the mature males sporting horns generally 12" or longer with curved prongs on the ends.  Both sexes move sporadically during the day making endless opportunities for a stalk possible.  Once bedded down for the night, however, they will not usually move again until daybreak.

  

Proper gear and excellent shooting skills are keys to a successful spot and stalk.  Start early by preparing yourself mentally and physically and you'll be ready for this most challenging bowhunt!

 

Gear Checklist:


Count on carrying this gear with you at all times, you never know when a stalk may begin and it could last for several hours.

  • Bow, arrows and quiver (backpack quiver if necessary)
  • Spotting scope
  • Binoculars and Harness system, compact and lightweight
  • Rangefinder, compact
  • Antelope Decoy, lightweight & easily carried long distances
  • Water 
  • Knife
  • Cell phone or 2-way radio
  • Compass
  • Toilet paper
  • Food/snacks
  • Belt or fanny pack to carry smaller, essential items
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