Tag Archives: Danner Boots

Enjoying the climb

23 Aug

Looking into the abyss

It seems like I always conclude a season of hunting with introspection and thoughts of how I could have done better…followed up by oaths sworn to prepare better and train harder for “next year”. And time, with it’s ever exasperating way, reminds us that “hey, your time has come!”….and before we know it…yes, you guessed it…there is no more time left to be had. And as our years progress, time has an even more infuriating way of speeding things up  faster, still. “Life” takes a hold and ratchets it’s self in and plans that we’ve made, would like to make…or have ever thought of making, seem to never fall into place as they should. This is the story of my life!

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New Gear: Danner Gila Boot

8 Aug
I was so excited when the UPS driver dropped off my new Danner Gila boots, that I immediately tore open the package and put them on...even though I was wearing shorts...and ankle socks...!

They have arrived! I have been wanting to get my hands on the new Danner Gila boots ever since I started seeing them advertised earlier this year. So far they seem legit and I’m excited to put them to the test!


I’ve been on the hunt for a lighter weight boot to wear during the early seasons and may have just found the solution: the new Danner Gila.  I’ve always been a fan of Danner boots, but until recently their designs were pretty limited and hadn’t offered anything along these lines. Last year I decided that I needed a  lightweight and nimble boot, that was a bit “cooler” on the feet. Most full grain leather boots, regardless of being uninsulated or not, end up baking my feet during the warmer months. I’ve always shied away from boots that utilized mesh, or “synthetic” uppers and wondered if they would have enough support for technical terrain and be able to withstand the abuse that their full-leather counterparts can.

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Glocking for Bears: part II

19 Jul

*Look for a version of this story to be published in an upcoming issue of Bear Hunting Magazine!

I always am mesmerized by the pads of a predator and take the time to study them...almost like some sort of Palm Reader would analyze someone's "life line". I can't help but wonder what trails have been trod and how many miles had been laid down in this bear's 15-20 year estimated years.

I always am mesmerized by the pads of a predator and take the time to study them…almost like some sort of Palm Reader would analyze someone’s “life line”. I can’t help but wonder what trails have been trod and how many miles had been laid down in this bear’s 15-20  estimated years. A quick note on field judging bears, based on the size of their pads: measure across the pad and then add one inch to equal what the bear would square. This bear’s pads almost measured six inches across, which jived perfectly…as the bear squared over six feet.

There is a saying that “every dog will have his day” and this most certainly applies to hunting. If you spend enough time in the woods, you are bound to experience an “epic” encounter at some point. A few weeks back, my number was apparently up to be thrown a bone and I was to experience one of these “epic encounters”.

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A Lion Will Do

9 Jul

Originally published on the Sitka Gear Insight blog: https://www.sitkagear.com/insight/a-lion-will-do


This past hunting season was pretty rough. Just to put it bluntly. At one point during the opening weekend of the September Elk season…I wanted to call it quits. I took the first shot opportunity that I had on a spike bull and ended up with a high-single lung hit. It gave me a blood trail that a blind man could follow and then ended in a bed of frothy, pink blood…but no bull. After two days of searching with everything that I had, I came up empty…and that’s how I felt. I went through the motions for almost a week before I finally started to get it together. The month of September came and went and I moved on to focus my efforts on filling my deer tag.

Looking on in disbelief at a blood-filled bed at the end of a heavy blood trail...but no elk to be found.

Looking on in disbelief at a blood-filled bed at the end of a heavy blood trail…but no elk to be found.

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The Mountain Got It’s Own Ways

26 Sep
I made camp where my legs gave out on me. It just happened to be on a narrow saddle that was the only way over the mountain and onto the nearby ridge system.

I made camp where my legs gave out on me. It just happened to be on a narrow saddle that was the only way over the mountain and onto the nearby ridge system.

For some reason Will Greer’s line to Robert Redford in “Jeremiah Johnson” springs to mind, when I think of this past opening weekend’s bivy hunt. “You can’t cheat the mountain Pilgrim. Mountain’s got it’s own ways”. It seems just spot-on appropriate.

I began scouting the higher elevations just as soon as the snow receded enough to give me access and quickly found an area that held plenty of promise and had me excited. Towards the end of July, I began climbing higher and higher up the mountain and was surprised to find plenty of Elk, Mule Deer and Bear sign. The sight of a small Elk herd lolling in an Alpine bowl one afternoon, had my hopes high and fantasies of chasing bugling bulls above the tree line brimmed in my heart.

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Get in a pre-season shakedown for a more sucessful hunting season.

21 Aug

Sheyk-doun; verb

A shakedown is a period of testing or a trial journey undergone by a ship, aircraft or other craft and its crew before being declared operational. Statistically, a proportion of the components will fail after a relatively short period of use, and those that survive this period can be expected to last for a much longer, and more importantly, predictable life-span.

Getting in a vigorous, full gear shakedown session while scouting for Bear season

I was greeted by the early morning song of birds as I slid from my truck and took a big pull of the fresh, mountain air. The air smelled sweet and new, as only it does in mid spring after the woods have renewed itself from the dormancy of winter. I paused for a moment to listen to the sounds as the birds and squirrels greeted the sun, starting it’s daily journey over the eastern ridges. My little hiking partner “Saxton” whined eagerly as I unhinged the door to his kennel, letting him escape with an anxious bound. Hefting My MR Crew Cab off of the truck seat, it felt like it weighed a ton as I shrugged it into place. With a soft click, I snapped it’s buckles closed and tightened the straps before setting off up the trail with bow in hand. Falling into step, the bottom of my Cat Quiver softly banged a cadence against the butt of my pistol, as my pack voiced it’s displeasure with light creaks and groans. “LEFT…RIGHT….LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT…” a Drill Instructor’s voice called out in my head, setting the pace as I marched up the mountain side. After I passed the first mile mark, I paused briefly to make some final adjustments to my pack straps and swap my bow to my other hand.

With every step my destination became a little closer as the distance behind me became a little greater. Every increase in incline swelled my legs with blood as my heart rate increased, causing my lungs to work a little harder. Eventually my left arm started to tire and become numb from carrying my bow, which only brought a smile to my face. I reflected on the up coming month of September, which marked the start of my most favorite outdoor activity: Bowhunting for Elk. This definitely brought a smile to my face.

No, this was not a hunting foray into the backcountry; but only a practice run, a “Shakedown” if you will. My pack tipped the scale at just less than 48 lbs, which really put the hurting to my legs and feet. I didn’t need to pack so heavy and I didn’t need to carry my bow with me, either. But like I said before, this was a shakedown, the first of many in preparation for the upcoming hunting seasons, which would put my body and mind to the test.

As I neared the four mile mark, my old hip injury was starting to talk to me and I could already tell that I had worn the wrong socks which led to quarter sized blisters later on. Judging by the way I felt at just a little over the half way mark in my predetermined 12 mile journey, I begrudgingly decided to make another half mile before turning back to the truck. Yes I was disappointed with my performance this day, but that was the exact reason I was out there enduring the pain. I knew that with consistent, self-inflicted pain and punishment over the upcoming weeks, would only lead to a more enjoyable and more successful time in the field when it really counted. Cameron Hanes always says “Train hard to hunt easy” and while I don’t even consider myself close to Cam Hanes caliber, his philosophy has always made sense to me. It’s like an athlete training for game day; he usually puts himself through much more physical stress than he ever would experience on the day of the big game. But all of the extra preparation, pain and pushing himself to the limit allows the athlete to focus on the task at hand (which ultimately is winning) and garners himself more of an edge over the competition.

I myself view the mountain and the animals I chase, as the competition and success in the field as my victory. Success in the field can be viewed very differently by every individual outdoorsman and my view of success does not always hinge on the notching of a tag. This may be apparent by the lack of numerous shoulder mounts, or other “trophies” gracing my Man-room wall. I know for a fact that if you rub a generous amount of Johnny’s seasoning or use a nice Worcestershire marinade; an un-notched tag doesn’t taste half bad!

Game day! This was me, leaving the truck on my first ever multi-day solo hunt in the back country. Due to improper planning; unbeknownst to me, I faced a near seven mile hike in…to the trail head! I was very glad I had several 6+ mile shakedowns under my belt in the weeks prior.

Seriously though, I have always felt that “it is not about the destination, but about the journey” and to me the journey is everything. This is why pre-season preparation is of the utmost importance. Case in point: my quarter sized blisters I suffered on this day. Just by wearing the correct socks would have averted this from happening and may have allowed me to squeeze out a couple of extra miles. This was the first time I had experienced blisters on my feet in at least six years of backpacking and mountain hunting; but I wore a pair of “hiking socks” that I had not worn before. It was better to find out now, pre-season instead of finding out that “hey, these socks suck…” on the first day of elk season.

Notice that I was carrying my bow along, as well. Four pounds doesn’t seem like much while you are working yourself around the 3D range; but pack it around all day long while carrying a pack and it can seem like you’re packing a boat anchor! If you are a rifle hunter this may ring even truer, since the average big game rifle may weigh close to double that of a bow. Whether I’m shooting my Traditional bows or my compound, I like to take several “bow hikes” during the summer. Not only does this help your muscles get acquainted to the weight of the bow in your hand for extended periods of time, but it can be a lot of fun too. Roving around the woods stump shooting or varmint hunting is all part of the experience and is training for the real deal. Once again, rifle hunters can get in on this action. I own a custom-built, Ruger 10/22 that I love to rove around and whack Prairie dogs or even targets like rocks and small sticks that might be laying about (always keeping safety in mind). Not only is this type of “training” fun but helps to develop your hand-eye coordination which will pay big dividends when it counts.

whether your hunting high altitudes like on my 2009 trip, or just chasing game a mile or two from the trailhead; when it comes time to pack out that load of meat or chase that herd of elk…the more pre season preparation you have beforehand the better.

The big game seasons of the fall will be upon us before we know it and it’s never too late to squeeze in some pre-season conditioning. So do yourself a favor and plan a shakedown before it’s too late. Not only will this help make your season go smoother for you by increasing your conditioning, but you may be surprised as you work the kinks out of your gear system. You may just find that ”chink in your armor” before it’s too late and spare yourself some heartache that could force you to pack it up early. Like I mentioned before; I would much rather suffer those quarter sized blisters now and not be wincing with every step later on, while trying to conclude a stalk on that monster bull waiting for me out in the timber.


For additional pre season conditioning that would most definitely aid in a successful season; check out www.traintohunt.com. This hunt oriented training system draws off of current Cross Fit methodology but is tailored specifically to “making you a better predator” during the hunting seasons.

Also see: HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), I’ve found this method of training to be highly effective, especially when applied to your cardio routines.

*As always, please consult your Doctor or Physician before entering in any kind of conditioning routine or engaging in high stress activities.

Train like you hunt! Suiting up with your full kit and putting down some boot leather will pay huge dividends come hunting season.

I definitely was packing a full load here! My trip was only supposed to be for three days; but me being me, I had around five days worth of gear and food.

Is that a modern-day Sasquatch?! Nope, just me running to work with a 40# pack. While maybe not a smart way to train for extended periods of time; a few miles a few times a week will definitely pay off during hunting season and is a good way of ramping up your intensity preseason.

Hunting so-called “open” country definitely has its share of rugged terrain and can be very challenging.

Backcountry like whats found in the Bob Marshall definitely requires some preseason prep time; not only for your body and mind, but for your gear as well.

While hunting last year in NE Texas; I discovered a terrain completely alien to me. Constantly wadding through knee-deep water, busting through very thick brush and dealing with boot-sucking mud, presented its own challenges.