Hunting & Heritage  |  12/05/2019

When it Comes to Hunting Boots, Don’t Get Stuck in a Rut

By Andrew Vavra

The theme of this year’s Rooster Road Trip is “Late Season Longtails” but in reality, it’s much more complex than that. Yes, we anticipated some cold and unforgiving conditions (which, to this point, we’ve been lucky to avoid), but our route would also take us from the semiarid Cimarron National Grasslands, to the hilly and expansive 1,080-acre Kansas Veterans Wildlife Area, and even further north into the unpredictable region of southwestern Nebraska. These wildly different terrains coupled with a group of hunters with varying needs and preferences meant our choice in footwear was as unique as the four birds that make up Nebraska’s Upland Slam

For the majority of the upland season in Minnesota I wear Irish Setter Wingshooter boots. They’re a classic design and a personal favorite, but I’ve always thought of trying something a little taller that sported a more aggressive sole for late season jaunts through deep drifts of snow. Therefore I saw this Road Trip as an opportunity to put the Irish Setter 12” Elk Trackers to the test. As of today, my dreams of trudging after tight-holding roosters in snow have been dashed, but these boots have become a new go-to. They’ve kept their traction in slippery gumbo and allowed me to scale hilly terrain in comfort, but perhaps even more importantly, they’ve kept me safe while post-holing in unseen divots and what I assume are animal dens… You know the moment where you take a step only to feel nothing below your feet? It makes your heart race and any time you can walk away from that unscathed is a testament to good footwear. 

The Elk Trackers may have been my boot of choice, but a handful of my fellow hunters had some differing opinions. What matters is that you find the right boot for you, and sometimes that means trying something new and not getting stuck in a rut.

Logan Hinners, PF & QF Graphic Design Manager - Boot of Choice: The Ravine

In short, I found these new Ravine boots from Irish Setter to be light, fast and durable. The torsion-control chassis, duel-density midsole and multi-tied lugs provided instant comfort out of the box. This is a boot that I look forward to adventuring in throughout all of my outdoor pursuits. The Ravine comes with some pretty cool technology features too, such as the ENERG (high-rebound material) found in athletic shoes. It delivered a recharging burst with every step and after four days of hard hunting through tough terrain my feet were a huge fan! The moisture wicking Scent-Ban technology is an added bonus and helps kill bacteria in the linings and footbeds to reduce odors. Whether I'm upland hunting, big game hunting or hiking to various backcountry locations the new Ravine boot is made for my next adventure.

Chad Love, QF Journal Editor & Brand Manager – Boot of Choice: The Vaprtrek

I chose the Irish Setter 8-inch Vaprtrek waterproof insulated leather boot for the Rooster Road Trip, and over the course of nearly a week spent putting dozens of miles on them in all sorts of varied terrain, the Vaprtreks have proven to be a comfortable, durable boot with enough support to keep me from rolling an ankle in the uneven terrain of scaled quail country, while being lightweight enough to slog through thick CRP fields in search of pheasants without tiring me out. I like to walk fast and cover lots of ground when hunting,, so I tend to prefer lightweight technical bird-hunting gear over heavier, more traditionally-styled gear, and the Vaprtreks fit this style perfectly.  

Bob St. Pierre, PF & QF VP of Marketing and Communications – Boot of Choice: The Wingshooter

In many ways, I’m a traditionalist.  When it comes to my bird hunting boots, I want a classic look, maximum comfort, and real laces.  Irish Setter’s Wingshooters have always checked every box on my list and my family can attest to my authentic affinity for these boots.  Truth be told, I currently own three pairs of Wingshooters.  Yep, I’ve got my office boots with a clean cream sole and I’ve also got two pairs for hunting to use in rotation when the conditions are wet.  If they made a version of the Wingshooter that my wife would allow me to wear to weddings, well then, I’d own four pairs.  The singular criticism you can levy against Wingshooters is they don’t have a ton of traction for icy conditions, but they are the straight ticket for early season or late season hunting in the snow (with the insulated option).