Category:  Mike Garner Outdoors

3 States. 2 Weeks. 1 Boot.

The last few weeks have been crazy. I’ve traveled to Wyoming for elk, Nebraska for ducks and Arkansas for speckled bellies. A lot of early mornings and late nights in the field culminated in some fantastic outdoor television content that should make its way into your home starting sometime in July on the Outdoor Channel.

I know what you’re thinking – pretty sweet, huh? And to be completely honest, it was! I just spent two weeks hunting my way across the Heartland with good friends and good outfitters. Throughout the 14 days of wind and weather, I depended on one thing to keep my feet warm and dry – my 9-inch Arctic Chipps. Although, I must admit to pulling on my 5-mil neoprene waders a few times out of necessity.

The first stop was Casper, Wyoming. Pulling out of the Casper/Natrona County International Airport, I headed east to the Wagonhound Ranch near Douglas, WY, where I joined the NASCAR Outdoors production team for five days of spot-and-stalk action pursuing big elk through the Rocky Mountain’s Laramie Range.

Temperatures ranged from the high teens to the mid-40s. We experienced average wind speeds around 20 MPH with gusts pushing 30 MPH. Needless to say, it was a little chilly. The steep terrain coupled with a little bit of altitude reminded me just how flat my home state of Oklahoma really is.

Next, I moved 130 miles east across the Wyoming state line to Scottsbluff, NE, and the North Platte River. There I hooked up with the Ducks Unlimited Television crew for a three day youth waterfowl hunt with DU volunteer Mike Winchell. The good news – my waders never left my bag. I had the benefit of genuine lamb shearling liners on my feet and layers of moisture wicking insulating gear on my body.

The final stop was Stuttgart, AR, for the 76th Annual World’s Championship Duck Calling Contest over Thanksgiving weekend. More wind, more weather, and the waders finally made an appearance. Between the Wings Over The Prairie Festival in downtown Stuttgart, and Speck hunting historic flooded rice fields outside of town it was roaring success.

The same boots that got me through Canada in October got the nod in November, (for obvious reasons.) From the Rockies’ to the rice fields, my laces got a little bit longer every trip. Undoubtedly due to the miles of hiking and the natural form fit of the sturdy leather stretching ever so slightly around my foot. These boots just keep getting better and better!


It's Duck Season!

If you’re an avid waterfowler then you know this year’s waterfowl forecast has already been touted as the best in a decade. Everyone from state wildlife agencies to Ducks Unlimited is optimistic about the upcoming hunting season.

I know when the September/October issue of DU Magazine appeared in my mailbox last month with the headline “A Record Year for Ducks” I got pretty excited – for a couple of reasons. First, I’m a DU Member and I love waterfowling. Second, I’m also a lucky member of the Ducks Unlimited Television production team.

If you’re like me all the press has left you wondering if those lofty population estimates will actually result in more birds in your spread? Maybe, however your success in the field is probably more dependent on the amount of water, food, and cover available in your area than it is on sheer numbers. Regardless of the early “Duck Factory” figures the smart hunter is still going to have to do a little work.

Now I’m no expert, but I know one! My good friend Senior Communications Specialist, Biologist, and DUTV personality Mike Checkett might cringe slightly at my interpretation of duck biology, but I think he would agree that anyone dialed into ducks knows that favorable weather and excellent wetland conditions would positively impact breeding and subsequent hatch.

So begins duck season. Three weeks ago I flew into Saskatoon for the annual pilgrimage to the Prairie Pothole Region of Central Saskatchewan. The region produces more than half of North America’s duck population. We made the two hour drive to a lodge operated by our good friends at Prairie Rose Outfitters and proceeded to enjoy five days of hunting Canada Geese in cut barley fields and ducks in small potholes.

My Canadian goals were pretty simple. Capture some epic waterfowl footage and keep my feet warm and dry! Ironically one was heavily dependant on the other. It’s hard to concentrate on the task at hand when your feet are cold or wet. Lucky there was a cold weather boot I hadn’t tried yet…the genuine lamb shearling lined 9-inch Bay Apache Arctic boot.

I knew in my heart they would be warm and dry, but I was taken aback by the out-of-the-box comfort and ridiculously good ankle support – not surprising given the height and quality of the leather. With upcoming Duck Tour stops in Wisconsin, Nebraska, Rhode Island, and Maryland it’s safe to say I just field-tested the winter boot of the year!

P.S. If you’re the least bit interested in ducks, geese, DUTV or my boots don’t hesitate to send a question or comment my way. Happy hunting!



September Dove Hunt

It’s a ritual handed down, passed on, and played out across the country every September – it’s the Opening Day of Dove Season! For most it’s a tune-up, traditionally the beginning of the fall hunting season, an annual affair filled with family tradition. And it doesn’t matter if you’re 8 or 80 most will agree there’s just something about getting together outside with friends and family, sharing the experience, and making memories.

For me, the best thing about the dove season opener has very little to do with the actual hunt or my shooting prowess. However, I did shoot better than the national average that hovers somewhere around three birds per box of shells (25 shots). That guestimate still blows me away. I mean who averages a dove every 8.333 shells? That’s crazy. Don’t get me wrong I spend my fair share on 16-gauge Remington game loads, but a bird for every 8.333 shells? I’d like to think that I’m a better than average shot, but I think it has more to do with the fact I simply pull the trigger less and I like my birds close.

Like a lot of hunters who make the annual pilgrimage to the dove fields it’s more about whom you’re hunting with and less about counting shells, although putting some meat on the grill was my first priority. Shooting better than my partner was a close second.

This year my brother-in-law Brent invited me to an evening hunt on a private patch of ground near Cushing, OK. Perfect timing, I thought since the mercury in Oklahoma only recently dipped below the century mark– just another beautiful day in America’s Heartland.

We made the 45-minute drive west from Tulsa, arriving a good two hours before sunset. We surveyed the freshly disked field and called out our positions. Brent took the east end zone and I headed west in my Chippewa 8" Mocc Toe Waterproof Lace Ups. Feeling the weight of my grandfathers Belgium-made Browning in my hand as I crossed the field brought back incredible memories of the two men who shaped my understanding and appreciation for the outdoor world. Whether they knew it or not, Dad and Grandpa sent me down a path that would ultimately lead me to my chosen profession.

In a world of synthetic stocks, camouflage coatings, and recoil reducing mechanisms, it took a beautiful 60-year old shotgun to remind me how I got here. Every loaded shell and trigger pull was a gentle reminder of my outdoor heritage, every miss a sign of how much more practice I truly need; every harvested bird resulted in an automatic smile for me and undoubtedly for the two men who got me here as well.


The Summit

If you’re perusing you’re either part of the Chippewa Boots faithful or you’re a newbie to the world of outdoor footwear and looking for an informed opinion. Either way you have come to the right place!

The best test for any piece of outdoor clothing or equipment is performance in the field. I think we can all agree that new gear always looks and feels great inside the comfort of your favorite outdoor store. But, determining real world function, comfort, and durability usually requires getting dirty.

You can pretend how those new boots might feel after a dozen miles on the trail. You can even imagine how that new backpack might handle 40-pounds of essentials. But, it’s not until you’re actually in the field that you secretly hope all your gear is up to the challenge.

Looking at the summer production schedule for the Scouting for Adventure series I knew our season finale in West Virginia a couple of weeks ago would provide ample opportunity to break in a pair of Chippewa’s tried-and-true 10” Briar Pitstop Loggers.

The Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve is 10,600 acres of Appalachian wilderness situated right next door to the New River Gorge National River Area. Scheduled to open in 2013 The Summit will serve as BSA’s fourth National High Adventure Base; complementing Philmont in New Mexico, Sea Base in Florida, and Northern Tier in Minnesota. And, it will serve as the permanent home for the National Scout Jamboree.

For our part we teamed up with Scouting’s National Honor Society the Order of the Arrow to assist in their month long adventure service project. The SummitCorps’ “New River Experience” represents one of the largest youth service projects performed in the National Park Service history.

Every week for four weeks a few hundred Scout volunteers pulled into Glen Jean, WV ready to work – each dedicating 32 hours of boots-on-the-ground service. Their goal, build 16-miles of stacked-loop hike and bike trails, rehabilitate 12-miles of illegal ATV trails, and remove four acres of the invasive species Multiflora Rose.

Our “Wild and Wonderful” adventure took us up and down the New River Gorge, whitewater rafting, climbing, rappelling, smallmouth bass fishing, it included a treetop canopy tour, and a stop at the biggest attraction to hit West Virginia in years – I’m talking about The Summit.

Always up for a challenge our Scouts were anxious to join a work crew. They quickly learned how to properly swing tools like the pick mattock, cutter mattock, the McCloud, hazel hoe, shovel (they called a spoon), and the rock bar. Every tool had a purpose and they put them all to good use as they dug, crushed, and spread piles of dirt, rock, and debris. And we captured every hot, dusty, trail-building minute in high-definition video.

But don’t take my word for it, check out the boots online and watch my show. The 10” loggers are crazy comfortable out of the box and you won’t find a better boot for timber or trail work. The series Scouting for Adventure is on Outdoor Channel and worth a look.

Let me know what you think. I’m confident you will enjoy both.

Photo Credit: Dave Bennett


Columbia River Sturgeon

It’s been a heck of a summer for cast and crew of the Outdoor Channel original series Scouting for Adventure presented by Coleman! In the span of three weeks, I field produced two shows for the two largest freshwater fish in North America!

Last month, I had the pleasure of documenting two Boy Scouts from Troop 730 in Dallas, TX as they pulled multiple big alligator gar out of the Trinity River. This month we headed west to the Pacific Northwest where we searched the mighty Columbia River for over-sized White Sturgeon with the help of two eager Scouts from Troop 664 in Gresham, OR.

We met Captain Dan Ponciano on the northern bank of the Columbia River Gorge at Beacon Rock State Park (named by Lewis And Clark back in 1805). Hopping into the 24-foot long North River Scout aluminum boat we left Beacon Rock and the dock behind. Propelled by a big Yamaha 250, we bounced through the heavy chop with relative ease. Never having fished the Columbia I thought it was interesting how the current pulls you in one direction while the stiff coastal wind pushes you in the other – both with varying degrees of force.

After a short 20-minute run, Captain Dan delivered us to his “honey hole.” He set the anchor, we drifted into position, and then he broke out the heavy tackle. But it wasn’t until he opened the bait cooler that we began to grasp the whole concept of hooking an “over-sized” fish.

Now hooking a 2-pound fish for bait may seem unusual for a lot of anglers, but when you’re trying to attract the largest freshwater fish in North America you want something big on the menu. And, a 2-5 pound American Shad makes a nice presentation.

Capt. Dan’s method of rigging was sheer genius. Due to regulations, single barbless hooks are required. He chose a Gamakatsu 10-ought hook tied to 200-pound test braided Dacron. Hooking the fish through the top of the head, he proceeded to tie a series of half-hitches down the length of the fish. This keeps the shad partially intact when the big toothless sturgeon begins to munch on its meal. Creative and incredibly effective.

Day 1 - the guys from Troop 664 fished hard catching and releasing seven Shakers (any fish under legal size). No small task considering we were asking them to quickly tackle a new style of fishing. Day 2 - everything came together! In two hours, two huge fish were hooked and released. The first measured 8-feet and over 250 pounds and the second went 10-feet 350 pounds.

When it was all said and done, my first experience fishing the Columbia River was an overwhelming success. Two big brood stock sturgeon were cleanly hooked, caught, and released. Our Scouters were thoroughly whipped, and we had an incredible Columbia River sturgeon show!

That’s my best summer fishing story. What’s yours?

Boot Report: Anytime you’re fishing from a boat sole selection is key - especially in rough water. At some point in your fishing day, your footing is going to get slippery. Any combination of water (fresh or salt), fish slime, blood, and/or bait will put you on the deck in a hurry. For this very reason, I brought back my 8” Briar Oiled boots. The Alpha Wedge sole was the best non-marking boat friendly boot in my garage. Also, the ankle support always proves helpful when you’re hopping around with a camera on your shoulder.

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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