Category:  Mike Garner Outdoors

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!


Spring Bass

What makes your outdoor adventures so memorable? Is it the journey, or what you did when you got there? I pondered those questions last weekend as I watched my 4-year-old little boy set the hook on his first legitimate fish catch. Not necessarily his first fish, but definitely the first unassisted catch. Or, as Will adamantly explains, “I caught it all by myself!”

Just by the nature of my profession, he has probably been exposed to more outdoor activities than most Tulsa kids his age. Watching his genuine amazement as we discussed each piece of tackle reminded me how I began my path into the outdoor world.

These days I’m lucky that the area between work and play is fairly grey. I have the unique ability to bounce back and forth between the two and still be productive. So, spending a 70 degree bluebird day with my best fishing buddy was simply icing on the cake.

If you’re reading this patiently waiting for some insight into my Chippewa Boot’s performance in the field, it’s because you are an outdoor enthusiast – eager to improve your experiences outside. And, like the vast majority of passionate sportsmen and women, you were likely introduced to the Great Outdoors by your dad or grandfather, (maybe grandma, too).

In the world of “Firsts” this springtime fishing trip was a big one. Will was sporting a new Spiderman rod and reel combo with all the essentials. We were outfitted with the classic kid’s rig – Eagle Claw No. 4 snelled hooks, brass snap swivels, split-shot sinkers, 1.5-inch red and white bobbers, and a container of Canadian night crawlers – the perfect formula for success!

As for the boots – comfort was paramount and the 8-inch Briar Oiled waterproof footgear with the Alpha Wedge Sole was intriguing. Touted as a Utility boot, it performed beautifully. Since fishing in an Oklahoma farm pond rarely requires an aggressive lug sole, I didn’t have to worry about taking a lot of mud home with me at the end of the day. A quick dunk at the waters edge and a wipe through the tall grass effectively cleaned the crepe-like bottoms.

So what made my last outdoor adventure so memorable? A 5 fish limit. Will - 3 and Daddy - 2.

How would you answer the question?


Bulls, Geese and the Catwalk

I was fully prepared to blog about my recent Xtreme Bulls experience in Rapid City, South Dakota, but then I read about the 2011 Gilded Age Fall Fashion Show on the official Chippewa Boots Facebook page and decided to expand the scope of my monthly commentary.

As an avid outdoorsman, television producer, and all-around Chippewa fan my hope has always been that those who migrate to Chippewa Boots for their rugged good looks, might also step off the beaten path and get them a little dirty. They are, after all, one of the toughest and most durable boots in the outdoor footwear market.

In the last three weeks I have literally been Living in Chippewa Boots. I traveled from Rapid City, SD to San Antonio, TX for bull riding events, with a stop in DeSoto, KS for a late season Canada Goose hunt. And Chippewa Boots were with me every step of the way.

I was fortunate to participate in the production of the PRCA’s first tour stop for Xtreme Bulls at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center, in Rapid City. I bounced back and forth between six bucking chutes, capturing every heart pounding ride and wreck on camera.

For South Dakota and Texas I pulled on one of the toughest, western style, boot that Chippewa makes and the very same style that carried me across the infield at the 100th Pendleton Round-Up – the Arroyos Pull On! This go-around I chose the fashionable green tops.

The thought of scraping a toe on a gate or chute while wearing a nice pair of ostrich boots didn’t really appeal to me, Nor did the idea of slipping off a metal chute while holding an expensive camera. So the heavily oiled bay apache leather and sure-footed rubber Vibram sole got the nod. What can you say about a boot that does its job well? I say well done!

Perusing the Chippewa Facebook page last week. I thought how ironic it was that a month ago I joked about nubucks crossover from the field to fashion and more recently from fashion back to the field (check out the January blog for more details). Ironically, one of the boots featured in the Gilded Age Fall Fashion Show in New York was non-other than the Arctic 9” Golden Tan Nubuc. The same surprisingly awesome, cold weather, water-shedding boot I wore in Washington last month and again in Kansas this month.

Temperatures in Kansas last week reached single digit lows and although I wasn’t wearing a chunky cardigan or fitted peacoat I did manage a wool vest and a down-filled coat. All worn under the cover of snow camo of course.

I wonder how GQ would have reacted had I walked down the runway with two big beautiful Canada Geese in each hand?

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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