Bowhunters are spoiled for choice regarding the gear which is available to wear while hunting.
Accessories and features which initially appear as excessive are often a necessity.
This is especially true for choosing the correct pair of bow hunting boots. It is critical to realize that it is illogical to wear one pair of boots for all hunting conditions.
When determining what boots to buy, you must consider factors such as: the style of hunting you will be doing, hunting site, terrain, time of year (season), time of day, and the level of activity you will be doing.
You must consider these factors because different hunting boots have different purposes. For example, in winter, you will want boots with a considerable amount of insulation whereas early in the hunting season, it would be too warm to wear so much.
Characteristics of early season hunting to take into consideration are:
- Conditions are conducive to walking
- Weather is warm or mild
- Whitetail often feed in the evening
- Snakes are active
- Wet weather as well as morning and evening dew
Many Beautiful Days Perfect for Hiking
Beautiful days are plentiful early season. On these beautiful days, many hunters will have a strong desire to do many miles of hiking.
If your intentions are to do plenty of walking on rough terrain on your hunts, your preference will be boots which:
- Are Lightweight, Somewhat Supportive, Stiff and Flexible. For long hikes on fairly coarse and rough terrain, you will likely prefer boots which are light, flexible and offer good traction yet stiff enough to provide sufficient support to carry a heavy backpack (Find more information about stiffness level).
- Have Little to No Insulation. If you are going to be walking early season while temperatures are mild, your feet will overheat. An appropriate level of insulation for early season is 400 grams or below.
- Are Breathable. Sweaty feet often arise while walking. Consequently, wearing boots which are breathable and allows air to flow are ideal. Rubber boots differ from leather boots (internal link to rubber vs. leather) in various ways, one being that rubber does not offer much breathability compared to leather boots.
If you are concerned that rubber boots will not offer sufficient comfort, stiffness, and support rest assured, a good pair of high-end rubber boots gives you all of that.
Warmer Weather - More Sweat and Odor
The temperature early season is typically warm and mild, therefore, the time it takes for your feet to begin to sweat is brief.
When deciding what boot to wear for early season hunting, you should strongly consider factors which prevent and minimize overheating, sweating, and smelling. Those factors are:
Rubber Boots “Hold” Odor Inside Boot. Rubber molecules are tightly packed together, this characteristic prevents odor inside the boot from releasing. As pointed out above, leather boots are breathable, meaning it allows air in and out (the odor is released), which is terrible if you are trying to control your scent, but great for cooling your feet.
Lightweight Boots. Lighter boots are less bulky and require less power to walk (which means your feet can stay cooler longer). Note that leather boots are typically lighter than rubber boots
Little to No Insulation. Again, in warmer weather your feet will get hot, at most, you will need 400 grams of insulation. If you want insulation for cooler weather, consider wearing additional socks for additional warmth instead of boots with more insulation.
If you get smelly feet and plan on wearing leather boots, for scent control, focus on staying downwind, change your socks and apply scent blocker to your feet.
Waiting and Sneaking
Typically during the early season, whitetail hunting success will occur during the evening near their source of food. If this is how you intend to hunt during the early season, your preference will be boots which:
- Are Lightweight and Have Softer Mid-Soles. Boots which are light and have softer mid-soles will offer greater foot control and will be quieter in the woods. Softer mid-soles are preferred when stalking an animal.
- Provide Some Insulation. As the sun begins to set, the outside temperature will drop and when this happens, the insulation in your boots will become best friends with your feet. If you will be wearing the boots throughout the day, you will prefer to wear boots with little insulation and add more wool socks to your feet during the evening. If you will predominantly be wearing the boots during the evening, select a boot with plenty of insulation
If you get heavy dew where you hunt during the evening, you may want to consider getting boots which are waterproof.
Snake Sightings are Prevalent
During the early hunting season, snakes are more active and prevalent during the day when they come out to enjoy the sun.
The first thought may be to wonder whether snake boots are necessary, but it should be a short-lived thought depending on your location.
With more snakes about, the risk of snake bites rises.
A good pair of snake boots offer more protection for your feet and legs.
In addition to snake bite protection, snake boots can offer great traction and plenty of stiffness to support your legs on rough terrain.
Due to snake boots having a knee-high design, they can get warm and sweaty, it is important to search for fabrics which are breathable and offer adequate air circulation.
If you desire boots which can remain dry in any conditions, snake boots can fit that preference as there are snake boots which provide 100% water resistance.
Early Morning/Late Evening Dew and Wet Weather
If your intentions are to hunt early in the morning, late in the evening, or on rainy days, it is vital that you get yourself a pair of boots which are waterproof and water resistant.
A good pair of rubber bow hunting boots will be completely waterproof and provide good traction in muddy and uneven terrain.
As previously stated, leather is permeable and can therefore never truly be completely waterproof, however you can treat leather boots to improve its level of waterproofness.
The number one thing to remember about buying a pair of boots is that it is illogical to wear one pair of bow hunting boots simply because boots have different features for different circumstances.
Your choice in early season hunting boots should be based on what you want in a boot after considering the warmer and wetter weather, prevalence of snakes, likelihood of walking many miles and where and when whitetail eat.
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