Category:  Mike Garner Outdoors

Pickle Toes

Mike Garner

I’d like to take a minute to address something that plagues all footwear manufacturers. It’s something rarely discussed outside of the industry’s inner circles. And it’s the one thing that makes most R&D guys cringe slightly. I’m talking about stinky feet.

The truth is all feet perspire and ultimately all feet smell. Yours. Mine. Old feet. Young feet. Big feet. Little feet. Even your cute girlfriend or beautiful bride’s feet – even though she assures you they smell like rose petals or some other floral scented masking agent from Bath & Body Works.

In my house we affectionately refer to smelly feet as “pickle toes.” Frankly pickles would smell infinitely more appealing to me, but my seven and almost five year-old boys seem to thoroughly enjoy the fermented cucumber description. And its important to note that the only thing better then two little boys talking about “pickle toes” is fending off the actual feet strategically placed under your nose!

The good news is the good people at Chippewa Boots are doing their very best to combat your pungent foot odor. I’m told there are big things on the horizon. Which isn’t surprising. It seems like every time you turn around there is a revolutionary new fabric or insulating layer on the market wicking perspiration or keeping us warm and dry in the field.

But for now utilizing things like the Dri-Lex lining that delivers all day comfort with a totally breathable, fast-drying, moisture management system is a great place to start. And until true “odor-eliminating” footwear arrives on the market there are a few tried-and-true tips for keeping your boots and feet fresh.

First, always air your boots out at the end of the day – regardless of your activity! It doesn’t matter if you’ve been hunting or working all day simply loosen your laces, open the boot wide, and pull the insoles out. This is by far the easiest way to let your boots breathe a little bit overnight.

Second, if you have access to a boot dryer or fan it wouldn’t hurt to circulate some air inside your boots. Not only will this help reduce the moisture inside quicker, but it will also help eliminate the odor created by perspiration and bacteria.

And third, rotate your insoles every morning to ensure a fresh foot bed. Purchasing a matching set of insoles is great for your feet and the life of your boot. Not only will a fresh pair of insoles save your nose it will promote good foot health.

Personally I do all three! In fact, during archery elk season last year Tips No. 2 and No. 3 got me through two weeks on my feet in the rugged backcountry of Wyoming’s Wagonhound Ranch. But, the best part of hunting all day – airing my feet (and boots) out on the mountaintop!

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End of Season

Mike Garner

As late-season waterfowlers wrap up their Light Goose Conservation Order hunts I can’t help but look back on my duck season and smile! This season marked the first time in five years that I wasn’t lugging camera gear through a marsh or across a frozen cornfield. And, it was the first time in five years that I had the opportunity to watch ducks and geese work a spread with only my shotgun by my side.

During my tenure with Ducks Unlimited Television I was fortunate to see some of the best wetlands, marshes, and fields in North America. From the Prairie Pothole Region of Central Saskatchewan to the Texas Gulf Coast we followed the migration in pursuit of ducks, geese, and great conservation stories. And in the end we were blessed with a talented supporting cast of DU volunteers, partners, outfitters, guides, and some of the best retrieving breeds in the world.

But, this season was all about me lacing up my Chippewas, heading into the field, and getting some much needed trigger time. Drawing upon five years of expert waterfowling tutelage I was probably the most prepared novice waterfowler in the country. In preparation for my season at home I tried to recall every successful scenario that I had experienced in the field – the best blinds, decoy spreads, and calling tips.

But, before I could even think about pulling the trigger I had to reconnect with my Oklahoma hunting buddies. And the OSU Ducks Unlimited Chapter’s annual spring banquet in Stillwater, OK was the perfect place to rekindle those relationships. My buddies Matt McMahan, an Avery Elite Team Member, and Justin Mace, the manager for the Crooked Creek Duck Club, were kind enough to introduce me to a couple enthusiastic waterfowlers from my hometown. Two knuckleheads named Greg Hambric and David Hamra literally saved my season and became my friends in the process.

Now fast-forward to the field. I tried to remember everything DU Biologist Mike Checkett ever told me about species identification. When it came to ground blinds I recreated everything DU host Wade Bourne taught me about great concealment. When it came to calling I did my absolute best to remember host Field Hudnall’s helpful tips and techniques. And when all else failed I simply approached every hunt (good or bad) like I thought my good friend former DU host, Huntley Ritter would have – hit or miss I had a smile on my face!

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Top 3 winter football must haves!

Mike Garner

With the college football regular season well behind us and 15 of the 35 bowl games already decided I was curious just how many bowl games are taking place outside and beyond the slightly warmer borders of California, Arizona, Louisiana, and Florida?

A quick look at the BCS and non-BSC bowl schedules reveals that few contests are taking place above the 35th Parallel and even fewer are being played outside. Not surprising since Old Man Winter has already made his presence known across the country. Although games have already been played in a handful of northern states like Idaho, Michigan, Maryland, and New York – 3 out of these 4 were chilly outdoor venues.

Personally I like the wind and weather. I like the warmth of the sun on my face in September and the winter cold on the back of my neck in December. I prefer the roar of the crowd to piped in audio behind tempered glass. And, as nice as a buffet tastes in the comfy confines of a temperature-controlled suite, I really don’t mind standing in line for my hotdogs and dippin’ dots. In my opinion college football is best experienced outside.

And the recent Bedlam game between my Oklahoma State Cowboys and the Oklahoma Sooners was the perfect opportunity to assess my Top 3 college football cold weather “Must Haves!” With kick-off temps well below freezing I was glad I had Zippo, Stanley, and Chippewa to keep me warm!

 

No. 1 – As handy as the disposable hand warmers may be, let’s be honest, they lack real heat. I mean they’re nice when the mercury is hovering around freezing and you need a little something to keep your fingertips warm, but with Bedlam game time temps sitting at 18-degrees Fahrenheit I needed something more! And after watching three quarters of football where neither team played to their potential it was obvious the only thing on fire was my Zippo polished chrome hand warmer. It requires actual fuel and a lighter – and it burns hot! Two of those bad boys strategically placed under my mid-layer did the trick!

No. 2 – Do you remember when the only beverage you could imagine sneaking into a college football game was cold and in a can? Well a subfreezing December football game in Stillwater, OK will change your mind. A 1.3 liter, stainless steel, double-wall vacuum Stanley Thermos full of my favorite hot beverage – hot TruMoo chocolate milk – was the order of the day. Carefully tucked in the bottom of a bag under a blanket, gloves, and wool caps the gate attendant either didn’t see it or didn’t care. Either way, I was warm on the inside for four quarters.

No. 3 – Last but not least toasty footgear is the one thing that gets me through a particularly cold hunt or in this case football game. It doesn’t matter if you’re sitting for hours on end in a goose pit, treestand, or outdoor stadium; it’s always difficult to maintain blood flow to your lower extremities. The resulting cold usually sinks in after only an hour or two and with little chance of getting your heart pumping you’re pretty much screwed. Thankfully I had my 9” Bay Apache Arctic Boots! All leather construction coupled with a genuine lamb shearling lining – nothing could have been warmer!

So, if you find yourself attending one of the few remaining outdoor bowl games above the 35th Parallel where you’re likely to be cold – like the Liberty Bowl at Memorial Stadium in Memphis or the Music City Bowl at LP Field in Nashville or if you think you might get a surprise winter blast down south don’t forget Zippo, Stanley, and Chippewa!

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My Favorite Outdoor Host

Mike Garner

There is no shame in a shameless plug – especially when you’re right – and I’m rarely wrong. In 15 years of outdoor television production I have field-tested most of the hunting footwear on the market and I think Chippewa Boots are hands-down the best. As a producer whose work has been broadcast on networks like ESPN Outdoors, NBC Sports, and Outdoor Channel I have worked with and evaluated some of the best personalities on outdoor television today. Most are great hunters and even better people. So, it doesn’t matter if I’m critiquing boots or on-air talent I like to think I am more qualified then most to offer an opinion.

 

When you spend as much time as I do in the Great Outdoors, especially in the close confines of trucks, blinds, cabins, and such you tend to get to know your hunting buddies fairly well. But, beyond the usual fellowship and camaraderie shared in camp, you grow to depend on each other – even more so as a member of a tight-knit television production crew. And it’s easy to get spoiled, working with the same trusted people day-in and day-out. But, when an opportunity to work on a new series presented itself in October I jumped at the chance.

 

Now creating compelling outdoor content isn’t easy, but like most hunters, producers and camera operators are constantly evaluating their environment – wind direction, weather conditions, and the terrain – all very important when trying to capture the outdoors story (and not blow the hunt). But, for me the most important component has never been the prey we pursued (that’s the guides job), it has been the temperament of the on-camera talent – my host. And over the years I’ve had my favorites.

 

As I packed my standard South Texas whitetail hunting gear – Wranglers, Chippewa American bison snake boots, and a few GameGuard camo shirts – for the hunt near Freer (Home of The Official Rattlesnake Round-Up of Texas) I had no idea I was going to be working with a guy considered by many to be one of the world’s premiere hunters. (Note: I’m vague for a reason...can’t give away too much information before the episode airs.)

 

From our first handshake at the airport baggage claim I knew who he was – our paths had never crossed, but the name and the face were unmistakable. He was a hunter through-and-through and a man of many parts. He was a television host, writer, shooting coach, hunting consultant, guide, and outfitter. He’s been a fixture at outdoor trade shows and seminars for decades. And during our weeklong adventure I quickly discovered that not only was he a steward of the land, but he was funny, direct, opinionated, and equally quick to extend a compliment and critique. He’s been a member of Bass Pro Shops RedHead Pro Team since its inception in 1989, his outdoor resume is a mile long, and he was about to become my new favorite outdoor television host.

 

It was Bob Foulkrod – the champion of outdoor traditions and our hunting heritage and a huge supporter of gun rights and conservation. His passion for hunting was realized early in life and he was fortunate to have those closest to him encourage and foster that love for the natural world. His father, grandfather, and grandmother all played important roles in shaping the outdoorsman he would become. I’m not even going to address the number of animals Bob has taken over the years. And I’m not going to count the Slams, World Slams, the miles traveled, or countries he visited. Frankly, Bob is more then just numbers – and I know in the end I’ll get something wrong and hear about it later.

 

So, if you ever get the opportunity to sit down with my new favorite host and compare field notes or hunting stories here is my advice to you – keep your ears open and your mouth shut! Because it’s not often you get the opportunity to learn from someone who honestly knows what they’re talking about.

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Dog Day Afternoon


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Mike Garner Outdoors
mike garner outdoors

Chippewa has teamed up with Mike Garner, a lifelong sportsman and television personality with a love for everything outdoors, to bring you Mike's journey across the United States in his Chippewa boots.

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