Hunting expeditions begin with a journey. Often that journey takes place in a truck or on an ATV but at some point the trails end and the foot portion of the excursion begins. Not everywhere you go to hunt whitetail in Missouri is accessible by vehicle, forcing you to depend on your feet. Feet need to be kept clean, warm, and dry for several reasons, and taking care of your feet ensures that they will take care of you.
Photo: Griffin's Guide
Without healthy feet, your mobility will decrease. In order to keep moving, stay on top of proper foot care. This means keeping toenails trimmed to a comfortable length and preventing fungus by keeping feet clean as well as keeping your bath and shower clean as fungus can grow in such areas. Should fungus such as athlete's foot occur, treat it promptly and thoroughly. Since fungus thrives in wet environments, keep your feet warm, dry, and thus inhospitable to bacteria while keeping conditions such as trench foot and frostbite away.
Sock choice plays an important role in keeping your feet happy during a long day in the woods and is one area in which you do not want to sacrifice quality. Avoid thin, cheap socks that ride low such as ankle socks or pretty much any of the typical sneaker socks on the market. Instead, check out shops such as Bass Pro or Tractor Supply for some heavy duty socks. These stores and others like them offer socks designed with a purpose in mind, a true work sock, if you will. What you want is a heavy weight sock that is thick enough to keep your feet warm while still allowing them to breathe at the same time. Also beneficial is a sock that wicks moisture away from your feet, allowing for the driest conditions possible in your shoes. Take the time to look at and feel different socks. You may find that one pair suits your fancy or that a two-sock combination works better. Regardless of your preference, one thing is for certain: don't skimp on socks. Be sure to also buy an extra pair or two to keep with you as you never know when it will be necessary to change your socks in the field.
Photo: Griffin's Guide
With socks out of the way, it is time to have a look at shoes. Unfortunately in this day and age, fashion plays a big role in attire. This means that footwear is being manufactured to be trendy more than practical in a lot of cases and you're going to have to weed through the junk in order to find the real deal. Things to look for include thick soles and high tops. Even if you're tempted to go with a lightweight low top boot, think about the terrain you will be traversing. Low tops are easier to flood in water or possibly lose altogether in mud. They also offer little ankle protection, thus opening you up to sprains and strains. If you're going hunting, buy some hunting boots, not glorified sneakers. Boots with a shank and deep lugs on the sole as well as high ankles are your best bet. Before buying, make sure they will fit over the socks you have selected.
Now that you're got your footwear planned out, it is time to break it in for use. Don't want until opening day to don your new gear as that will surely result in foot pain and blisters. Instead, start wearing your footwear a few weeks ahead of time in order to acclimate to it. This will give any blisters that form time to heal, greatly increasing your comfort level by the time you set out on a hunt. In order to survive the breaking in period, purchase some moleskin to apply to your feet. This will create a sort of second skin type barrier between footwear and foot to ease the breaking in process.
Lastly, give your boots a thorough waterproofing. This can be easily done with a can of silicon spray from any of the shops mentioned above. Simply coat clean, dry shoes and allow them 24 hours to dry. In addition to repelling water, silicon sprays can actually help limit the foot odor that seeps out of your shoes, keeping such smells from reaching the nose of nearby whitetails.
Do you have any hunting shoe preferences? Is there anything special you do to your shoes in preparation for hunting season? Let us know in the comments.