Category:  Mike Garner Outdoors

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!


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.


Dog Day Afternoon


A Boot For Every Job


Stuck in the Mud

I truly believe that some of the most memorable outdoor experiences include mud and trucks. Regardless the size of your tires or the make and model of your favorite off-road vehicle I’m confident that you have a good old-fashioned gettin’ stuck story.

This is a tale about a Saskatchewan range road (RGE RD), two Fords, and three friends who failed miserably to push a rental vehicle out of a rut – albeit a really deep and sloppy rut. On a recent trip to the Quill Lakes Region of Central Saskatchewan I tested the resolve of a Ford Expedition and the patience of my snow goose hunting cohorts – 2-time World Champion goose caller Field Hudnall and camera operator Jory Baugher.

It was mid-May and we were on location actively pursuing snow geese with my good friend Prairie Rose Outfitters owner Craig Rath. The weather was good and the hunting was even better. The snow line had only recently retreated from the Dakotas, melting rapidly north, leaving this area of the Prairie Pothole Region dotted with fresh pools of water and remnant sheet ice. It was a great habitat for traveling waterfowl.

The reverse migration was in full swing as ducks and geese instinctively made the push north back to the breeding grounds. By all accounts this was an unusual year, historically the snow is gone weeks earlier with the large flocks of migrators following close behind. We took full advantage of the recent change in weather; as did the farmers who had been patiently waiting for the snow to melt and fields to partially dry so the spring planting process could begin.

While scouting one fine evening I chose a road less travelled. Turning north off Canada’s Yellowhead Highway onto a range road that will remain nameless, (Craig will undoubtedly appreciate my discretion) I failed to notice the absence of fresh tracks. But, in my defense the road surface looked and felt solid underneath my tires. In fact, we traveled a good half-mile down that road before things got interesting, and by interesting I mean sloppy. We experienced the typical side-to-side fishtail action, the always-popular spinning tires with audible boost in RPMs, and finally, the unavoidable stall. Then there was a short moment of silence as we all began to calculate our distance from the nearest town; and two seconds later an assortment of colorful words filled the air.

I think it’s important to note that you reach a point in every pre-stuck scenario where one of two things occurs: 1) You immediately recognize your predicament and stop or 2) you hesitate ever so slightly, maintaining diminished confidence in your current heading, and then giv’er hell – I chose the latter. Unfortunately things didn’t turn out as I had hoped. Long story short, having farmers in the field proved beneficial. Our savior was a 7.5-liter 6-cylinder diesel 8240 Ford Tractor.

So, this blog goes out to all those anonymous rural strangers who are quickly befriended by the recently stuck. To those farmers and ranchers who willing put their tractors, chains, and tow straps to good use while refusing to accept anything other than a firm handshake as a token of appreciation, I thank you!

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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