A good building starts with a good foundation and being comfortable during the hunting season does too. For hunters, the foundation has two parts, first, the layer of clothes next to the skin is important and the subject for another column. This foundation can be summed up as ABC which means, “anything but cotton.”
The other foundation is the footwear a hunter wears while hunting. Of course, most waterfowlers need to select waterproof hip boots or waders, upland hunters need comfortable hiking boots. But selecting the right deer hunting boots is just as critical to ensure a successful hunt. Patience and persistence — especially in colder climates — are the keys to success in the field. It’s important for a hunter to be able to go all day in the right boots.
Passionate deer hunters are prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws at them. From bowhunting on a hot, humid early October afternoons to sitting quietly in a tree stand on a frosty morning in late November, deer hunting requires patience, persistence and the right pair of boots for the conditions.
The hunting boots a whitetail hunter wears should be as carefully chosen as the firearm or bow. If a hunter’s feet are wet or cold, the last thing they’ll be thinking about is holding steady aim when it matters most.
When shopping for a new pair of deer hunting boots, consider these factors:
- FIT AND COMFORT: Some boots offer comfort right out of the box. Others, such as those made with premium leather, may require a break-in period to feel comfortable.
When shopping, keep in mind as a person walks throughout the day, their feet can actually flatten and lengthen increasing in size, perhaps as much as a full shoe-size larger.
When trying on boots, wear the socks you’ll actually wear while hunting. Again think “anything but cotton” when it comes to hunting socks. Choose moisture-wicking socks of the appropriate length for the boot height you’re considering as well as thickness.
- RIGHT BOOT FOR THE SEASON: Full season hunters in the Midwest typically start their hunting in rather warm, dry conditions and progresses to colder temperatures and wet or frozen conditions later. If this is you, consider multiple pairs of boots to handle those changing conditions. Planning to use the same boots all season just by adding or eliminating socks is a poor alternative.
In the early season’s warm, dry conditions select from lightweight, breathable, uninsulated choices. Mid-season hunts may require boots with some insulation (400 grams-800 grams) to protect against chilly mornings while not baking your feet as temperatures rise throughout the day. In late season with cold temperatures, snow or ice consider heavily insulated (1,000 grams or more) boots to protect against harsh winter weather.
- DRY FEET: Wet feet can ruin a hunt fast, especially if it’s cold and you’re sitting or standing for any length of time. Walking through dew-drenched grass and underbrush, stepping into a muddy puddle, or crossing a creek to get to your spot is all it takes. That’s why, whether you’re bow hunting from a tree stand or rifle hunting on a long stalk, you need to make sure your boots are waterproof to keep your feet dry. Most companies offer breathable waterproof “all weather” boots and on extremely wet days or if your hunting area often has puddles or standing water, consider waterproof rubber options.
- TYPE OF HUNTING: Many deer hunters enjoy the tradition of sitting in a deer stand. Others prefer to spot and stalk their big buck. Lightweight boots can help keep active hunters from feeling weighed down while hunting on foot. Stand hunters often don’t require rugged, abrasion-resistant leather boots, but they do need extra protection from the cold. For those coldest days select boots with 1200 or even 1600 grams of insulation rather than just layering on more socks.
Boots play a critical role in the enjoyment and success of your deer hunting experience. That’s why it’s imperative to take the time to find the right boots, so you won’t need to think about them during the hunt. The right boots provide all-day comfort and go-anywhere performance. It’s a foundation hunters can build on.