Hunting & Heritage  |  09/16/2016

Gear Review: Irish Setter Wingshooter #839

When they’re fresh out of the box, it’s easy to envision pairing fancy slacks with Irish Setter’s Wingshooter #839 boots and hitting the town. Thankfully, it’s just as easy to picture them as the business end of an upland hunting outfit. The leather is a rich brown and flexible, the sole firm and black. A side zipper and gold buckle – new additions to the well-known Wingshooter boot line – complete the fashionable look, and are fine points from which to jump into a discussion of these boots’ abilities in the field.
Lacing and tying a pair of hunting boots takes time, and there’s no way to ensure a piece of brush or strand of barbwire won’t catch on the laces and cause them to come untied. That doesn’t happen often, but the possibility exists. These boots solve that problem and make putting them on a simple, quick task. Absent laces, however, the upper part of the boot, which is nine inches tall, may not fit snug around the leg. As I strode through brush and soggy forest ground during a mushroom-hunting session, I initially had the sensation one or both of my boots would fall off. I used the buckle to tighten the bottom portion of the boot around my foot, and after walking more, grew used to not having the boot hugging my leg.
Walking across plowed and muddy cornfields, or through tall grass still wet from dew or rain, is the price upland hunters have to pay. Boots that are truly waterproof and weatherproof are worth their weight in gold. The boots weigh 3 pounds, 12 ounces, so there’s no mistaking when you have them on, but if dry feet at the end of a day afield are an important measure of a pair of boots, then these pass with flying colors. Wingshooter #839 boots, which are non-insulated, feature a moisture-wicking nylon liner that keeps things dry and comfortable. The boots’ sturdy leather is an effective water barrier, too, which leaves the zipper as a potential spot for water to enter. These boots alleviate that concern thanks to a strip of leather that runs the length of the zipper, creating an effective barrier between it and the boot’s interior.
A division of the venerable Red Wing Shoe Company, based in Red Wing, Minnesota, Irish Setters are a known commodity when it comes to boots made with the upland hunter in mind. The Prairie soles on the #839 boots continue a tradition of quality when it comes to that critical aspect of the boots. The soles, after all, must be a vital consideration because upland hunters, for better or worse, tend to put on the miles in search of birds.
Much of my pheasant hunting – in Minnesota and the Dakotas alike – takes place in or near agricultural fields, where mud is a big concern. Deep cleats on the bottom of boots collect mud and make walking a real chore. The cleats on the bottom of the #839 series are small enough to avoid becoming clogged with mud yet provide plenty of traction when traversing unsteady or slippery ground. I hunt a lot of ditches and other areas where the terrain isn’t flat, and when I’m carrying a loaded shotgun and keeping my eyes open for birds flushing ahead of me, not having to worry about losing my balance allows me to watch the dog and otherwise focus on the task at hand.
As hunters, boots are right up there with a shotgun in terms of important pieces of equipment. But nobody sits on the tailgate at the end of the day and talks about how well their boots performed. High performance is an expectation, and Irish Setter #839 boots certainly fit the bill.
The suggested retail price for Irish Setter Wingshooter #839 boots is $194.99. They’re available in men’s sizes 8-12, 13, 14 in D and EE width. For more information, visit Irish Setter’s website.
Review by Joe Albert