Category:  Mike Garner Outdoors

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.


Kalispell, MT

The life of an outdoor television producer is pretty rewarding, but probably not as glamorous as you might think. For every luxurious month-long African safari, there is a somewhat less exotic grassroots hunting or fishing trip closer to home.\

Nevertheless, I consider myself extremely lucky to have travelled the world in pursuit of elusive game and wild outdoor stories. But not every trip is chock full of adventure. Some of our biggest obstacles revolve around the weather or our good friends in the airline industry.

As much as I hate to admit it, there are even times when the warmth of 400 grams of Thinsulate is simply too warm and the waterproof protection of a Chip-A-Tex waterproof membrane is slight overkill. Sometimes a great all-around leather boot with a Vibram sole is all you need; something classic and effective.

This was the case in Kalispell, MT a couple of weeks ago. Outdoor Channel managing producer Jeff Murray and I travelled to Montana - the home of Ducks Unlimited TV host Huntley Ritter - to capture a series of production elements for the upcoming DUTV season.

It is kind of a big deal, considering this is Huntley’s first season as the host of the best waterfowling series in the outdoors space! Too biased? Maybe. But they are the leader in wetland conservation and it’s hard to argue with their success.

The forecast called for rain but Huntley assured us the weather reports were less than dependable. Apparently the old adage, “If you don’t like the weather just wait 5-minutes and…” you get the picture. Apparently this is the universal rationale offered to anyone from out of town. When Mother Nature refuses to cooperate, it becomes even truer.

Taking Huntley’s meteorological evaluation to heart I left my weather-ready boots at home and instead packed my chocolate apache lacers. Tough enough to step off the beaten path for work, the boots are still good looking enough to wear up and down the streets of Whitefish, MT searching for a good dinner spot. We chose the Tupelo Grille (it rocked, by the way).

Well, as it turns out, Huntley was half right. After two days of shooting between Kalispell and the base of the Swan Mountains, we enjoyed a little nice weather. Nothing a few outdoor professionals couldn’t handle. I even found the perfect stump for a boot picture.

My next adventure is taking me to Portland, OR for a little hiking and a lot of fishing. I’m hoping you, the Chippewa faithful, might be able to suggest a boot? If you or a loved one have spent any amount of time soaking up everything that the Pacific Northwest has to offer…I hope you’ll offer up an opinion right now!


The Drummond Ranch Fire Department

Water is a precious resource for many farmers and ranchers, especially this time of year. Too much or too little can hurt you – economically, agriculturally, or worse. You only need to turn on the evening news to see the record flooding along the Mississippi River as residents from Memphis to Baton Rouge brace for even more water.

Unfortunately for those in the Midwest the thick, white, parallel bands of altocumulus clouds, like the ones stretching over Osage County in northeastern Oklahoma, look promising but all too often yield little rainfall. This offers little relief from the already dry spring and potentially drier summer.

However, unlike other parts of the country where severe drought conditions and wildfires make national headlines, we have been relatively lucky. Over the last 30 days our part of the state has seen almost 6 inches of rainfall - over an inch above normal for this time of year. Yet, looking back over the last 60, 90, and even 120 days it becomes increasing clear that the ground is simply too dry. Coupled with warm and windy conditions the threat of wildfires is ever-present.

So when my friends the Drummonds, who have been cattle ranching the Osage continuously since the late 1800’s, invited me to help survey their ranch as they assessed the current fire danger I jumped at the opportunity. I always jump at any chance to help a neighbor, get outside, and out of town. Lucky for me the youngest Drummond lives next door. Passing through my garage I grabbed my classic 6” Sorrel engineer boots, a pair of gloves, met Jackson Drummond in the driveway, jumped in the truck, and headed north out of Tulsa.

While dove hunting with Jackson and his Dad Gentner Drummond last September they mentioned a ranch fire truck. Impressive I thought, and an odd and awesome thing to own, I considered. Then I recalled the rural and unmanned volunteer fire station, on a non-descript stretch of two-lane blacktop, miles from the turn. Then I thought about the miles of dirt road separating the highway from the ranch headquarters. The remoteness began to gently sink in and the obvious necessity and utility of the big tanker became clear.

Like a lot of resilient ranching families the Drummonds are self-sufficient. With 20,000 acres of prime tall grass prairie, covered with cattle, and multiple ranch structures, I guess you’d have to be. Their vehicle of choice - a repurposed M35A2 two and a half ton cargo truck originally deployed by the United States Army!

Retrofitted with a 600-gallon water tank, heavy-duty fire fighting platform, generator, pump, fire safety masks, and 50 feet of fire hose on the front and back ends - this things was ready for business. Rated to carry 5,000 pounds off road and 10,000 pounds on roads the “deuce and a half” is pretty hard to beat when it comes to battling rural wildfires. Designed in 1949. Put into production in 1950. And still in use today. It’s a serious piece of equipment for serious conditions.

Jackson and I made sure the diesel and water tanks were full, inspected hoses for cracks, checked couplers, and pretty much played rural firefighters for the afternoon. Lucky for the sun parched landscape and us we didn’t see a puff of smoke in any direction. When it was all said and done everything was left just the way we found it - in order and ready for anything!


Shotguns. Upland Boots. No birds.

Dove season is less then five months away, quail season (if you still have them in your state) is seven months away, and pheasant season is a distant eight. So, I figured if I couldn’t actively hunt birds, at the very least I could lace-up my upland hunting boots and spend some time on a range where you can shoot the “clay” variety year round! Let’s call it a hunter/producer preseason tuneup!

Recently, I was hired to produce a DVD for the ACUI 43rd Intercollegiate Clay Target Championship at the National Shooting Complex in San Antonio, TX. The premiere collegiate shooting event of the season took place March 31st – April 4th, attracting a record 439 shooters from 50 colleges and universities from across the United States.

The only event of its kind, the ACUI nationals includes all six shooting events – International Skeet, International Trap, American Skeet, American Trap, Five-Stand, and Sporting Clays. The five-day team-based tournament is a fun-filled, action-packed, and extra long weekend built around sportsmanship and everything great in college athletics.

Hosted by International Olympic Skeet Shooter Haley Dunn, we interviewed student athletes, coaches, sponsors, and tournament directors. Anyone who participated, donated, or helped to launch this year’s tournament, got plenty of camera time.

We talked to Michelle Smith, Program Director for ACUI, Hank Garvey, Head Coach for the Harvard Shooting Team, and sat down with shooters like Ali Skeete Chiang from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, and first timers Dan Klimas and Blake Scott form Hillsdale College just to name a few.

Spanning a beautiful 671 acres of rolling hill country, the National Shooting Complex staff was kind enough to offer us an EZ Go cart. Thankfully we didn’t have to hike everywhere and had plenty of room for cameras, tripods, and lighting.

The good news was that I had my ridiculously comfortable 8” Briar Bison boots on my feet. So, five consecutive 15 hour days on foot was literally a cakewalk. Light weight and breathable was the perfect combination to battle the onset of the Texas summer.

When it was all said and done, we recorded three dozen interviews highlighting shooting sports opportunities at the college level, and captured invaluable information on how students, parents, or coaches can start a shooting club or team of their own.

Competitive shooting sports have always intrigued me. The discipline and focus required to consistently break clay targets thrown at varying speeds, arcs, angles, and distances are truly amazing. Obviously, skill and a lot of practice are required.

The more time I spend around the sport the more I see the benefits of youth shooting sports initiatives and programs like the SCTP. If you would like more information about getting involved in the shooting sports, please don’t hesitate to write!

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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