The woods take a toll on your body: sore shoulders, a stiff back and tired legs to name a few common ailments. Try as you might to get in shape before the season, something will ache at the end of the day. This blog focuses on what you can do to take care of your feet while on a hunt. Thank you for reading.
Before the Season Begins
A hunter can take a few steps in the summer to set themselves up for success in the fall. Wearing your boots on shorter hikes in the weeks leading up to the season will soften up the leather and toughen up your feet. You could even wear them to work to impress that new secretary. Many outdoor stores have a one-month return policy, so put miles on your boots soon after purchasing them to ensure they will hold up for the long run.
Personally, I wear running shoes on almost every fall hunt. Randy Ulmer does as well. I want something light and quiet. However, for more demanding days such as pack outs, I own hiking boots with better ankle support. Different footwear will rub in different places. If I feel a blister developing while hunting in my running shoes, I’ll wear my boots the next day and vice-versa. This also gives each pair time to dry out if needed.
Bring more socks than you expect to use. I leave camp for two separate hunts each day, and on cold nights I wear wool socks to bed. As a result, I deplete my sock supply quickly. If you’re planning to backpack hunt, bring liners. They will save weight and space. Try a few different styles and brands of sock on pre-season hikes. Harrison and I prefer thinner hybrid-material socks, but I have friends that swear by thick wool socks. Many footwear choices come down to personal preference. Take the time to get it right.
Keep Them Dry
Do everything you can to keep your feet as dry as possible. I take my shoes and socks off during lunch to let them air out. In camp, I have a pair of crocs that I wear to allow my feet to cool. Don’t go barefoot. You’ll end up stepping on a stick and cutting yourself. Max keeps newspapers in camp, which he stuffs inside his boots each evening. Basically, do whatever you can to keep your feet dry.
Once I pick a topic I feel I know enough to write a blog about, I take the time to read 5 more articles and listen to a podcast if I can find one. I have found backpacking blogs and sites have great tips for hunters. Gear Junkie recommends, “On rainy days treat your feet like an engine.” Essentially, lube your feet when they get wet. For those of us that use vaseline as a fire-starter it can double for blister treatment. Remi Warren has an awesome podcast on foot care where he speaks extensively about treatment options. Research everything you can, and good luck this season.