It doesn’t quite feel like Spring yet here in the midwest, but Gobbler Season is right around the corner. will be here before you know it. If you’re like most turkey hunters, you’ve spent the last few months fine-tuning your calling techniques, reading up on the latest gear, and making sure your jacket still fits after a long and delicious holiday season. But what about your boots? Are they still up for the task? You might be the best turkey caller in the world, but a lovesick tom won’t hear your calls from the truck.
The Right Socks
Every house needs a stable foundation and it’s no different when you’re talking about your feet. Having the right pair of socks will go a long ways in ensuring your feet will stay comfortable throughout your entire day. So how do you choose the right socks for turkey hunting? The first thing you should do is gather up all of your old cotton hunting socks and throw them away. Seriously. It’s amazing that hunters STILL go into the woods with cotton socks. Cotton socks don’t keep your feet warm, they don’t wick away moisture, and once they get wet…they stay wet. And they cause blisters after a long day of hunting. Do yourself a favor and get yourself a nice pair of merino wool blend socks.
Although it sounds crazy, merino wool is great for both summer and winter use because of it’s breathability, temperature regulating properties, and awesome ability to wick away moisture. Think about a sheep for a second. In the winter it uses its wool coat to help insulate it and keep it warm during the colder months and chilly nights. In the summer, that sheep uses that same wool coat to actually keep it cool thanks to its excellent breathability and ability to wick away moisture. In fact, wool can actually absorb up to 30% of its own weight in moisture before you start to feel wet. So you can say goodbye to that clammy feeling when you’re wearing merino wool.
The other great things about merino wool is that it’s naturally odor resistant which makes it a great fabric for hunting. If you don’t have access to a washing machine during your hunt, you won’t have to worry because you can wear the same pair of merino wool socks for a week before they start to smell. A thing to consider when purchasing new merino wool socks is how cold it will be when you’re hunting. If you’re hunting during the winter or in areas where it gets close to zero degree, you’ll want a pair of socks with a merino wool concentration of at least 80% wool. During the summer months, you’ll want a lower wool percentage, but you’ll want to ensure they are blended with other high-quality fabrics like Nylon or Spandex.
The Right Boots
The next step in staying comfortable during your hunt is making sure you have the right footwear. Now, the right boots for you may not be the right boots from someone else. There’s a variety of factors you need to consider when choosing the right boots for your hunt. Here’s just a few of them.
1.) The Right Fit
There’s nothing more important than ensuring your boots fit right. Don’t just assume that boots from Company A will fit the same as a pair or boots from Company B. You should also be wearing your hunting socks when sizing new boots because your everyday cotton socks don’t wear the same as your thicker merino wool hunting socks. If you plan to wear a sock liner or even two pairs of socks, you’ll want to move up a size or two so your feet have enough room to breathe and you’re not cutting off your circulation. If you walk around the store and the boots don’t feel “just right”—try a different size or brand. Happy feet = happy hunting.
2.) Weather & Time Of Year
If you’re planning to pick up a pair of insulated boots, you’ll want to match the insulation level to the time of year you’ll be hunting and the type of hunting you’ll be doing. If you’re doing a lot of spot-and-stalking, you’ll probably want a boot with a little less insulation. But if you plan on hiking into your hunting spot and then plopping down for the day, you might want something that’s more heavily insulated. Here’s a general guide for choosing the right insulation level for your boots.
Uninsulated to 200 grams— Great for early season and hunters who do a lot of spot and stalking.
400 to 800 grams—Great for midseason hunting or even late season if you plan on doing a lot of moving around during your hunt.
1,000 grams or more—Great for late season and winter hunts. You’ll want boots with over 1,000 grams of insulation if you won’t be moving around a lot during your hunt.
Where you will be hunting is just as important as fit and insulation level. Will you be walking in rough, rocky terrain? What about swamps, marshes, or wetlands? Are there snakes where you hunt? These are all important factors in whether or not you should be wearing a normal field/upland boot, rubber boots, or snake boots. You’ll also want to ensure your boots have deep lugs that grip in tight for traction when you’re walking. And, of course, your boots should always be 100% waterproof—because we all know that nothing ruins your hunt faster than wet, cold feet.