Thursday, September 28, 2017

How Young is Too Young

My Son Ridge with his first Buck. He
was 11 years old. 

Increasingly, I am seeing pictures all over social media of children with big game animals. Recent photos of a five year old with a massive buck caught my attention and got me to wondering, how young is too young to allow children to kill big game animals?

First let me say, I do not have the answer, but I do have some thoughts that may help you with your assessment of deciding for your children. As a father of five children, three girls and two boys, I have made some mistakes along this road that I would like to prevent you from making. My oldest son killed his first buck when he was nine years old. I waited until then, because I wanted to make sure he understood the finality of killing something and to make sure he could handle the gun safely. My second son, I waited until he was eleven, and my middle daughter (the only one of the girls that hunts) she was thirteen. But in hindsight, I wish I had waited for all of them. And here is why.

In each case, the first animal they killed was either a whitetail or a turkey. In our home state of South Carolina, that is about the only 'big game' we have. In retrospect, I wish I would have started them off on small game. My dad was not a hunter at all, he preferred to chase white balls across mowed grass. I came to hunting naturally, and without a mentor. I began by hunting squirrels, then doves, a few rabbits here and there, but most of my time was spent chasing bushytails with my Sears and Roebuck .22 rifle. I was in my 20's before I ever thought of hunting deer. Back inn the 1970's there were so few deer it wasn't even on my radar. Once I began, I had to figure the whole thing out on my own, And it was many years later before I killed my first one.

There is something pure about hunting small game. It is easier for kids to enjoy the 'less stress' of chasing squirrels. More movement is allowed, talking is not a terrible thing, and you can walk around without fear of scent control, or full head to toe camouflage. .22 caliber rifles or small gauge shotguns, are not loud and do not have enough recoil to measure. It teaches some patience and marksmanship. Hunting small game teaching kids to be safe with their gun while walking through the woods. It teaches them how to cross streams, fences and blow-down logs. And how to ensure safety all of the time.

If we allow four and five year old children to kill big game before they loose their front teeth, are we not setting them up for disappointment later? What is there to aspire to if success comes so easy so early?

A  friend of mine likes to use the analogy of 'ratcheting up'. Meaning, you start at point 'A', and ratchet up one click to the next level 'B'. Then to 'C', and so on. Perhaps this is a good analogy for introducing kids to the world of hunting. Start with small game, teach them to sit quietly, stalk slowly, make good clean ethical shots. Show them how to clean the game and then how to prepare it for consumption. Show them how to clean the guns after the hunt. Let them face defeat with a squirrel, or groundhog, perhaps a jackrabbit or cottontail. Let them feel the success of developing good skills for killing crows, or doves. Help them to focus on the event, the splendor of participating rather than the size of the antlers at such a young age.

I am 53 years old, and I have been hunting since I was thirteen. So forty years of hunting animals all across the continent. Still to this day, getting my old .22 Sears and Roebuck rifle out and wandering into the woods after squirrels is one of my most favorite things to do in late winter. The leaves are all gone, the air is crisp, and the scampering of bushytails bring a sort of nostalgia to my soul.

After my sons and daughter killed their deer, and turkey and pigs, we started over. Now their favorite hunting is squirrel hunting. We can talk, walk around through the woods and get to shoot at some squirrels. Often we stop by the creek, build a fire and put a squirrel on a spit and have it for lunch. They are enjoying the outdoors in a way, that sitting in a ladderstand just doesn't do. For them anyway.

At the end of the day, it is up to the parent and the laws of your state to determine when you can and should take your children hunting. From my experience however, too young is far worse too old, because there is no 'too old'. One of the reasons I began so early with my children, is because as an older parent, (I was still having kids into my 40's) I wanted to introduce them to something we could do together when I am well into my eighties and beyond. Time has a way of sneaking up on you, as my children became teenagers, school, cars, girlfriends and boyfriends, jobs, sports all became more important than spending time with dad in the woods. That is fine at this stage, the seed was planted and hopefully it will grow. But we still find several times each fall to spend a day together in the woods, carrying guns, looking for game. But mostly, we spend the day together. More memories are built based on the adventure shared than of the bulge in the game bag.

Just remember, for them, it is not about killing big bucks or a limit of ducks. It is about spending time with mom or dad one on one. So when you take them, let them decide when you leave. When you take them, let them decide what your'll hunt. Make it more about spending time with them, than killing something. Because they will remember the days spent with mom and dad a lot more than they will remember what they killed.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Le Chameau Boots - A Review

Image result for le chameau
If you have spent any time afield, you have heard of the boot company Le Chameau. 
If not, you are missing out on the finest footwear built today.
It all started when master boot maker Claude Chamot spent the day listening to his customers of farmers, hunters and fishermen complaining that their boots were uncomfortable and unreliable. Mr. Chamot designed and built a natural rubber boot that was tested and stood up to the punishment his customers needed.

As his reputation grew, expansion followed but the craftsmanship remained. In 1950 a real breakthrough emerged with Le Chameau boots. Mr. Chamot merged his rubber technology and craftsmanship with that of the saddler and fashioned the Saint Hubert - the first rubber boot with a leather lining. This boot quickly became the standard by which all other boots were measured.

Image result for le chameau chasseurIn 1970 Le Chameau introduced a boot that has become the standard by which all rubber boots are measured. Created with the hunter in mind, the Chasseur was the first rubber boot to have a full length waterproof zipper. It even comes available with eight different calf sizes for an almost perfect fit. The Chasseur comes with Kevlar reinforcement on the front of the boot to protect against wear, premium leather lining and leather insole. Each Chasseur boot is hand made by a master boot maker after a long and rigorous apprenticeship. Each boot is unique due to the handmade qualities.

In addition to the high quality, Mr. Chamot believed in permium customer service and offers a full 2 year guarantee for all of his boots.

To make matters even better, if rubber boots aren't your thing. Le Chameau now offers a full hiking/hunting boot called the Condor.

Image result for le chameau condor boots
The Condor
An Ultra-lightweight Nubuck leather boot with some of the finest leather available. This boot has a multi-layer Le Chameau LCX® Technology. This technology guarantees waterproof and breathable. The full grain leather is made with environmental friendly Terracare®. The sole is deep forest green with Michelin Compound for superior durability, flexibility and traction. These boot are insulated and made for hunting, hiking and other activities down to 15 degrees Fahrenheit.

Weighing in at a total of 4.6 pounds these boots are the lightest full size leather boots I have ever personally tested. The full speed lace is another plus. By removing all of the speed lace getting a foot inside with full wool socks is a breeze. Allowing the lacing to be quick and easy. The quality of the leather meant that from the initial fitting the boots 'felt' like they were already broken in and ready for a hunt.

Recently I received each of these boot to test and evaluate. I have to say the Condor is performing  above expectations. Which is hard to believe. The boots fit perfectly to my size requested. The leather is some of the finest I have seen in any quality boot. And the comfort is above par. The price of these boots is nothing to balk at, but after trying them, it is easy to see that for many, these are a lifetime purchase. These boots will hold up for decades. Barring an accident that could damage any boot, I am confident I will never need anther pair of boots. In two weeks I will be taking these Condor boots to Colorado for a high country elk hunt. It will be interesting to see how they perform basically 'out-of-the-box'. Thus far, testing has been positive and the over thirty miles I have placed on them have been comfortable.

The Chasseur full length leather lined rubber boot with a full zipper was quite the surprise. Reading about the leather lining, the first thought that came to mind is 'i bet they are some more hot boot'. Thinking my feet would sweat profusely being inside a leather lined rubber boot. And if you have ever worn rubber boots you know there is no way for your feet not to sweat in them. Add to that the leather lining and the initial thought was not positive. However after trying them on and wearing them for several hours, I realize just the opposite was true. The leather allowed your feet to breathe some and my feet were not nearly as hot an sweaty as other boots.
I love he full zipper for ease of entry and removal. To this point they have not leaked at all. Comfort is a difficult thing when it comes to rubber boots. The out-soles are typically hard and the support is terrible. However, I found that with the Le Chameau Chasseur, the opposite was true. The comfort and feel was outstanding. If you are looking for a boot that will last a lifetime, or even an everyday rubber boot, the comfort of the Le Chameau is worth the money.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Not All Scope Bases are the Same!

A few months ago, I was able to acquire a Weatherby Mark V in .308 for an upcoming elk hunt. THe Weatherby Mark V has long been THE one rifle I always wanted to own. Granted the specific configeration I have is not quite what I had in mind, but still, it's a great gun.

Like all good gun writers, I also try and put good optics on good guns. I have never had the budget for high end German glass, regardless of how much I coveted them. So a compromise was issued and I opted for a light weight Leupold scope. Specifically the VX2-3x9x40. (You can read here how I came to choosing the Leupold) To go along with the VX2 I also selected the Leupold Bases and Rings for the Weatherby Mark V. The packaging said; "For Weatherby Mark V". That was all it said, nothing else. Which is what leads me to this story.

After mounting the bases, rings and scope - as I have done dozens of times before, I headed to the range to break in the barrel and sight in the gun. (More about barrel break in later). After bore sighting the gun, I noticed the target was about four feet above the crosshair of the scope. A simple adjustment would fix this, I thought. WRONG. After several adjustments I could not ever get the gun to shoot onto the plywood target holder. We were still shooting several feet too high. A dilemma arose. Some investigation determined that something must be wrong with the scope and it was not allowing proper adjustments. Or the scope was not level.

I took the scope off, checked the bases, rings and remounted the scope - all total I did this over twenty times! and still count not get the situation corrected. Several gun smiths, expert shooters and still no resolution. Now I am three weeks away from my trip and still do not have a scope on my rifle.

Four phone calls to Leupold and two to Weatherby and we Think we have the solution. It seems that Weatherby makes two different Mark V guns therefore Leupold makes two different bases for each specific version. NOTE: There is nothing on the gun, or in the owners manual that indicated that I have the six lug version rather than the nine lug version. (I never got an answer to what that actually meant). The bases for the nine lug gun are shorter in the front because the action is taller. Therefore nothing I could have done would have fixed the problem short of discovering the proper mounts.

New bases and rings were ordered and should be in today just in time to head back to the range this afternoon to see if we can finally get the gun sighted in properly.

Point of the story. Check and recheck to make sure your bases match your gun EXACTLY or you will find yourself in the same situation I was in, shooting hundreds of dollars of ammunition to sight in your gun and still not be even remotely close to getting the situation resolved.

Stay Tuned - perhaps I will be able to report a beautiful target with holes blowing out the center at 200 yards.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Doing your Part to Control Illegal Hunting and Fishing

imageIn a recent conservation with a local Game Warden I was somewhat surprised by some of his comments when we were discussing game violations. This particular Game Warden transferred to my home state of South Carolina from a western state.  According to his experience in the western state the 'mindset' is so different when it comes to game violators. "In the west, everyone sees it as their responsibility to protect the game and if they see someone violating the laws, they will turn them in in a heartbeat." Using several examples, this warden commented that he has seen family members turn in one another when they discovered out of season hunting, hunting with the improper license or weapon, etc.

This same warden had this to say when discussing the attitude here in South Carolina. "The mindset is totally different. It is almost impossible to get a tip, or someone to turn in another person." He then shared with me a story of a night shooting of deer that was occurring. When the investigation unfolded, the officers began asking neighbors if they had heard anything out of the ordinary. one neighbor replied, "they've been shinning that field for years. all hours of the night and killing everything they see." When asked why the neighbor never reported it to the officers, the response was typical of what they hear. "That ain't my land, it's none of my business what they do over there."

In most states across the country, game animals belong to 'the people'. With the exception of enclosures, all free ranging game belong to all of the people regardless of whose land the animals occupy. A violation of these game laws effects all of us in a negative manner. Let's look at some of the consequences of ignoring violations of the game laws.

First, it paints all sportsmen in a negative light. When yahoo's are out there shooting deer at night, or trespassing, killing animals out of season. Catching over the limit of fish, etc. it makes all of us look bad in the public eye.
Secondly, every illegal animal taken is one that cannot be hunted legally. When someone illegally kills an animal, it prevents the ethical hunter the opportunity to hunt that animal. It hurts everyone in the process.
Lastly, When we ignore a violation, we are by default giving permission to the violators to do what they want when they want. If they are confident no one will turn them in, they will go about their unethical killing without remorse or recourse.

Many states have an anonymous tip line where the public can call and report game violations. Many of these offer monetary rewards to tips leading to an arrest. By calling Operation Game Thief here in my state, (1-800-922-5431) you can report a tip anonymously. There really is no reason NOT to call in or report a violation.

For many it is really an ethical situation. I remember in while attending seminary, we took a class on Christian Ethics. In this class we discussed in detail how to determine your position when something is challenging you standards or ethics. The formula was simple, 1. What does Scripture say about it? 2. What does the law of the land say about it,? 3. What does your experience teach you? 4. What is reasonable?
Granted game laws are not on the same level of Christian Ethics, however I believe this model can be followed regardless of your religious affiliation. From a secular manner in regard to game violations, perhaps you could use the following to determine your next course of action.
1. What does the law of the land say about it? 2. What does my experience teach me about such behavior? 3. What is the 'right' thing to do? 4. How will ignoring the situation make it better?

By looking at the situation through these lenses, perhaps we can see that our responsibility as sportsmen and women is to honor and guard our heritage and sport with integrity. To be vigilant in protecting the very resource we treasure. And to be willing to stand up and testify to the events as observed.

A few years ago while running my trap line, I ran across someone else's traps that had obviously not been checked in some time. The beaver set had a rotting beaver in the trap. Our law requires a check every 48 hours, this beaver had obviously been there for weeks. A little further investigating and I discovered several other illegal traps. I immediately called the local warden and showed him the situation and left it in his hands. To this day I do not know what became of that case, but one thing is for certain. I have never seen any more traps in that area, and I can rest at night knowing I did my part in turning in someone that was painting a bad picture of trappers everywhere.

This same warden also commented that the number one complaint they receive is trespassing complaints. But less than ten percent ever are charged because the land owner who reported it is not willing to press charges for the trespass offence. "it is such a waste of our time to pursue a trespass complaint if the land owner is not going to press charges."

Doing your part as a sportsman also means being willing to protect your passion from those who abuse the privilege of participating. It is as easy as a quick phone call and we can all reduce the number of cases where people are abusing the privilege we value.

Monday, September 18, 2017

OnX for Out of State Hunting

OnX app on your smartphone

I had finally drawn a tag in a coveted area of Idaho for Mule Deer. It was one of the highlight of my hunting career, or so I thought. As dawn broke, I found myself sitting on a boulder overlooking a long valley where I dreamed of giant bucks wandering through the backcountry. As the sun rose higher in the sky, I panned the distant ridges for mule deer. Instead my binoculars were being filled with orange. Blaze orange. Everywhere I looked I saw orange clad hunters wandering along looking for the same deer I sought. Angry and frustrated, I picked up my backpack and headed deeper into the wilderness.

This was many years ago, long before handheld GPS units and certainly before smartphones. As the day drug on, I knew I needed to start heading back. Taking my compass reading, I began heading back. Mile after mile and hour after hour passed with no sight of my camp. I don’t like to say I was lost, but I was confused for several hours. Finally after topping the eleventh ridge I saw a light in the distance swinging back and forth and I knew I was on the right path. My hunting partner grew worried and climbed a tall tree and began swinging the light in hopes I would see it. Dragging in to camp at 3:00 a.m. taught me a valuable lesson about orienteering. Today, I never go out of state, or on any unfamiliar land without a GPS and extra batteries. 

Many hunters like myself spend a lot of time and dollars applying for tags in mid-western and western states in hopes of drawing a tag for the animal of our choice.
When the day arrives and you get the notice that your dream tag has been drawn, the planning begins. Thankfully today’s technological world allows for detailed planning. Much of this planning can be done online. Selecting hunt zones, regions, or even specific creeks can be done with satellite imaging software. But what happens when you are not in the field.

Today’s GPS units such as my Garmin Oregon 650 are designed to get you into and out of the woods safely. But they are only as good as the mapping software installed. This is where OnX excels. (  

OnXmaps offers the user a variety of options that should suit the needs and usages of all different types of hunters, anglers and adventurers. From a micro SD card of specific states to an APP that can be downloaded onto any IOS or Android operating system. These maps offer the best of the best of information available today.

OnXmaps for IOS and Android
First the APP. The hunting app from OnX turns your phone into a high end GPS unit. OnX hunt 3.0 enables the full GPS functionality of your phone and combines it with the proprietary mapping tools. This allows hunters to use their phone as a GPS and know exactly where they are at any given time. But the best feature in my opinion is the detail it provides in property boundaries. Using this APP I can see precisely where I am and prevent me from accidentally trespassing onto land I do not have permission to hunt.
When hunting out of state in areas where seasons, legal animal requirements and boundaries change per species, it is vital to know exactly where you are at any given time. For example if I have a license to hunt in game zone 18, I need to know when I may cross that boundary line. Many of these boundaries are fairly random. A ridge top here, a valley there and none of them are straight. If for example, my zone allows for bulls of any size to be harvested, while the adjoining zone has size restrictions. If I inadvertently pass over into another zone, I can be in violation. OnX enables me to know exactly where I am at all times thereby considerably reducing the chance this can happen.
What if I do not have cell service? OnXmaps provides the option to cover this situation. The app for my iPhone allows you to download maps and features directly into the memory of your phone so that you can use it offline. Cell service is not needed which saves battery life. I simply place my phone into airplane mode to prevent it from searching and killing the battery and use the maps I have downloaded.

Another great feature of the OnX, is the ability to adjust layers. The NEW upgrade for OnX, includes more layers and more detail. Each user can determine how many layers they want to see on their map. Satellite images, satellite images with topo overlaid, migration routes of game animals, prairie dog towns, and other details are available with the app. These use a bit more storage but can make a huge difference when plotting your route.

Even if you do not have a GPS, the offline feature allows you to download onto your smartphone maps ahead of time to get you oriented. These maps are available whether you have service or not. 

Using your OnX on your Garmin GPS
Personally I love my Garmin Oregon 650. (unfortunately the 650 is no longer available but the new and improved Oregon 750 is available. ( It has saved my tail a lot of walking and wandering around confused. On many occasions I have arrived in states where I have never hunted before and gotten to predetermined locations in the dark using my Garmin Oregon 650. With the addition of my OnX micro SD card, I can make these travels a lot less stressful having the details of the terrain in my hand. With my Garmin loaded with OnX, I never have to worry about crossing into other game units, or onto private property. The area I hunt is loaded with BLM land, private parcels, and a national park within walking distance. The accuracy OnX provides means I never have to worry about accidentally crossing over into land not allowed. 
The accuracy of the OnX is so specific that it often is more accurate than fences. One truth about western fences is that they are placed by convenience and not as property lines. Fences can and often are off the property line by a great deal. Some are off by as much as several hundred yards because of the terrain and difficulty of erecting a fence along the actual line, the ranchers build the fence where they can. 

The added features of weather reports, radar maps, national trails, forest service roads, it all allows me to be the most efficient and the safest I can be in unfamiliar country.
As an old timer in many ways who still uses a compass for most of my orienteering, I also like the accuracy and detail of the compass OnX uses. Sure it is still electronic, but when I compare it to my exceptional floating compass the accuracy is excellent. It is nice to have a backup if needed. Add to this the tracking feature, it will trace my track and allow me to find my way back simply by backtracking.

My Assessment of the OnX
The OnX are definitely something I would never leave home without. Especially on an out of state hunt, scouting trip or hike. The features of this mapping software and app allows users the fullest benefits of the GPS units whether it is a standalone unit or on their smartphone. Any GPS unit is only as good as the software it is running and the addition of OnX enables the units to exercise the fullest of their capabilities.
Planning for an out of state hunt can be a daunting task. Spending thousands of dollars and precious vacation days to go hunting thousands of miles from home. The planning that goes into these hunts is very in-depth. Modern technology allows us to do a lot of scouting from our computers at home. The detail of programs like Garmin Basecamp or Google Earth allow us to see clearly locations that are worth checking out. Being able to load these into our GPS units or smart phones will save precious time and miles of walking.  There is no way I would ever consider an out of state hunt without my Garmin GPS loaded with OnX.


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Top Five Rifle Calibers for Elk

In preparing for this article I talked with a lot of hunters about what they believed was the best calibers for elk and I got a variety of opinions. As one would expect there are as many opinions of proper calibers as there are calibers to choose from. Even Jack O'Connor who loved the .270 and believed it to be the best all around cartridge would argue about caliber choices.

To complicate things, nowadays we have a wide array of bullets to put inside the case that can make or break a choice of caliber. Knowing that this article will not please everyone and I will most likely leave off your favorite choice here are my top five calibers for Elk. In no particular order.

1. .30-06 Springfield is in my opinion (and many others) the best all around caliber for North American game animals. With bullet options from 90 grains to 240 grains, there is a bullet for whatever you are chasing. Available in any action made today, the .30-06 is perhaps the best choice available. When choosing the .30-06, make sure you sight in using the ammo you will use for your hunt.

2. .308 Winchester  Believed by many to be one of the best all around cartridges the .308 Winchester is an excellent round for elk. While some may believe it is on the light side, the .30 caliber bullet is more than capable of making clean humane kills on elk out to and beyond five hundred yards. The ballistic energy is fast fading beyond this but, let's face it, how many are going to take a 500 yard shot anyway? Most elk are killed inside of 200 yards therefore the .308 Win is an excellent choice for elk.

3 7 MM Rem. Mag. Perhaps the most popular cartridge for elk among locals. The 7 MM Rem. Mag. is capable of holding its performance for a very long way. Almost equivalent to the .30-06, the 7 MM Rem. mag. carries more energy down range making it a bit more solid at long ranges. Preferred by make plains game hunters, the 7 MM Rem. Mag. has a fairly flat trajectory and manageable recoil (read - it kicks like a mule but since you should only shoot it once at an animal it is manageable) that many western hunters prefer it over other options. Some modern authors have called the 7 MM Rem. Mag one of the best all around cartridges available today.

4. 300 Win. Mag. Another magnum round, the .300 Win mag is as heavy as I would go on an elk rifle. This is due not only to the overkill of the bullet, but also to the weight of the gun itself.  The .300 Win. mag is a great longer range gun for those who want to be able to reach out for the elk. Its heavy bullets will do significant damage and anchor the elk faster than other calibers mentioned with the same bullet placement. For those believing that bigger is better, the .300 Win. Mag is the best choice for them. The .300 Win Mag remains the most popular .30 caliber magnum with American hunters, despite being surpassed in performance by the more powerful .300 and .30-378 Weatherby Magnums and the newer .300 Remington Ultra Magnum. It is a popular selection for hunting elk, since it can deliver better long range performance with better bullet weight than most other .30 caliber cartridges. Military and law enforcement departments adopted the cartridge for long range sniping and marksmanship. As a testament to its accuracy, since its introduction it has gone on to win several 1,000-yard (910 m) competitions.

5. 6.5 Creedmoor On the lighter side, but fast becoming a favorite of all western hunters, the 6.5 Creedmoor is an excellent choice for elk hunters. Developed by Hornady in 2007, the 6,5 Creedmoor is based on the .308 Win. Designed mostly for target shooting, the cartridge quickly became a favorite among hunters and shooters alike. Listed by one recognized long range shooter as "boringly accurate." The 6.5 Creedmoor is capable of holding sub MOA groups at 1,000 yards using factory ammo with relative consistency. Moreover the 6.5 Creedmoor compares directly with the .300 Win. Mag when it comes to down range energy with a smaller bullet. the 6.5 Creedmoor shooting the 140 grain bullet at 2690 fps (which compares to .300 Winchester magnum data of 2,930 fps for a 200 grain bullet and 2,665 fps for a 210 grain bullet)

The debate can go on and on for years, and there is good argument for many other cartridges. however when making lists like this, there are always a few things I take into consideration. One is the availability of ammunition. I want to be able to find ammunition easily and secondly, the ability to afford the ammunition. Those listed here are readily available in most areas and the cost is relatively manageable. All are capable or putting down an elk with proper bullet placement. Shoot straight and be confident in your gun.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Breaking in New UA Hunting Boots

I am just a tad over a month away from an elk hunt in North Central Colorado. In preparation for his hunt, I got a new pair of Under Armour boots. The BrowTine Boots with 400 grams of insulation.
When i received these boots I was in the middle of my preparation of getting into shape for the hunt. I had been walking several miles a few times a week to get my cardiovascular in shape. Then the new boots arrived and I knew I had to get the boots broken in and my feet ready for the new boots.

When breaking in new boots the rule of thumb is to start slowly.  You never want to put on a new pair of boots and head off on a five mile hike. It is better to begin wearing them around the house for a few days. A routine I use is to wear them to work for a few weeks. As a trapper, I am always putting on and taking off my boots through out the day. From the UA boots to hip boots to check traps. This gives me a great opportunity to get used to putting them on and off and to get them broken in.

After a few weeks of this, I learned that the boots fit well and there should be no issue with using them for one of my hikes. The first hike was a simple thirty minute jaunt up a mountain near my home to see if I developed any hot spots or any blisters. To my delight the boots were working perfectly. Gradually I began adding miles to the boots and I noticed that they were getting more and more comfortable. As I continue to wear them, I know the boots will work great when it comes time for my hunt in the Rockies.

Before I head out on my hunt, I want a minimum of one hundred miles on these boots to ensure that I have them completely broken in and ready. It is just a good rule of thumb to have at least one hundred miles on your boots before you go on the hunt of a lifetime. The last thing you want is to finally get on your elk hunt that you have planned and saved for and your feet be killing you because you didn't break in your new boots. If you can put one hundred miles on your boots, you should have some confidence that your boots are ready for whatever you throw at them.

Secondly, always, and I mean always take a pair of back-up boots. If something happens to your primary boots, a tear, broken sole, you name it, you do not want to leave your hunt because you didn't bring an extra pair of boots. Typically my back-up pair of boots are the ones the new boots replaced. I know they are broken in and ready for whatever I put them through.

You hunting boots are some of the most critical pieces of gear you have on your hunt. If you can't get to the animals because your feet are hurting, you wasted your hunt.

Take the time to break them in. Take the time to get into shape and spend at least one hundred miles in your new boots before your hunt begins.