You may not realize it, but most of us ask a lot from a pair of turkey hunting boots. We want support, light weight, breathablilty and waterproof performance. The rub occurs when we demand all four from the same boot. It’s especially challenging if your hunt is in muddy or extremely wet conditions. The reality is that most of us need more than one pair. Here are my favorite six boots straight from my closet. I was even able to include two that are still made in the US.
Here’s a pair of boots that kick proverbial butt—the Danner 453 GTX. I have worn them almost every day for two months and love them. I would confidently wear these boots in high country during the spring or summer, and in any airport that required a lot of walking.
They are completely waterproof. I held a hose on them for a couple of minutes and they stayed bone dry inside, and they also have killer support with soft leather inside the collar. It did take about 3 or 4 days of wearing them around the house to break them in. Besides feeling cozy, these Danners weigh an ultra-light 1.9 pounds apiece. Who says strong boots have to weigh a ton? $170; www.danner.com
Filson/Uplander Field Boot
The light, non-insulated Uplander has one of the most comfortable interior leather liners of any boot. This is a wonderful turkey boot. Filson designers must have taken a cue from Shaker furniture makers; these thick leather, no-frill boots are a paragon of design simplicity and durable function. The outside is wonderfully soft, oil-tanned leather, and they’re great for everyday wear. Just beware of the stout sole, these boots will require break-in time.
At over $300, the price is initially a tough pill to swallow, but they will last a decade or more. And, you can usually find them on eBay for around $225.00. The midsole is sewn with two layers of leather, rubber, and steel, and the low-profile Vibram Gumlite outsole won’t slip on rocks. Inside is a removable cork insole. There’s even a pull loop that you can actually slip two fingers into. If you tear them up, they’re rebuildable. $315; www.filson.com
Russell Moccasin/South 40 Bird Shooter
Designed specifically for upland and turkey hunters, these handsome supple, brown leather unlined boots are un-lined are impervious to thorns. At 12 inches high, they will spoil you with an immaculate custom fit. Initially the boots may be a little unforgiving, and break-in can take a while. But once they have formed to your feet, you can expect decades of comfort and support. No modern molded hunting boots can match them. Everyone I know who has a pair of Russell boots is still wearing them even after years of use. Yes…they’re really that good.
Russell has been handcrafting boots at the company’s custom shop in Berlin, Wisconsin, for more than 108 years with strict attention paid to every detail. When you slip your feet inside and start hunting in the thickets, you’ll never regret purchasing this pair of hunting boots. Be sure to allow up to 18 weeks for delivery. $334; www.russellmoccasin.com
You would have to live under a rock not to know someone with a pair of MUCK boots. Ask anyone who wears them, and they’ll tell you that they’re the most comfortable pull-on neoprene boots you’ll find. Period.
Made with breathable Airmesh neoprene, they are trimmed with a comfortable stretch-fit top with an armored rubber wrap around your toes and heels. The sole is excellent in mud and most hunters find them very easy to just kick off at the end of the day. And if your feet get hot, just roll the boot top down to circulate additional air. These are the best neoprene boots I have ever worn. $90;www.muckbootcompany.com
If you’re a rubber boot guy, there’s just no boot I know that fits as well as a pair of Ranger Manitobas. Unzipped, they are quick and easy to get-in and out-of, even after a full day afield. Zipped-up, the boot firmly locks on to your ankle for an absolute killer fit that will not move or slip off in mud. To get out of the boots, just un-zip them, and kick them off.
They are insulated with 100 grams of Thinsulate and are 17 inches tall. The sole grips very well in mud or on rocks and turkey hunters find them a great alternative and transitional boot in deer season. $80;www.rangerboots.com
Most of us, at one turkey hunt or another, have had to deal with a spring river crossing that rises above the knee to chase that gobbler on the other side of the valley. When it happens, you’ll be glad you have a pair of River Trekkers in your pack. Just slip them over your boots and cross confidently cross that stream knowing that the Vibram Ninja sole will grip to rocks and keep you from slipping in the mud and muck.
Weighing in at about 3 pounds, this overshoe wader is made from 160-denier nylon pack cloth and is extremely puncture resistant. These packable waders are very handy spring or fall. $135;www.overshoe.com