Category:  Mike Garner Outdoors

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?

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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?

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The Snohomish River


For the highly anticipated launch of Living In Chippewa Boots Season 2 I decided to kick-off our monthly boot discussion at a 1,200-acre duck club, an hour north of Seattle, Washington on the Snohomish River. This historic flood plain located between Snohomish and Monroe, Washington has slowly been restored to its wetland glory by a small but ardent group of watefowlers and Ducks Unlimited supporters.

Anticipating this winter hunt I reached out to Billy Lovell, my good buddy and R&D guy at Chippewa, to inquire about the Arctic Boot. This was my first real need for a boot sporting a genuine lamb shearling liner and wool polypropylene felt insulation. So, imagine my surprise and hesitation when Billy suggested the 9” Arctic Golden Tan Nubuc. “Nubuc,” I said? “Yes, nubuc,” said Billy!

The idea of walking into a private duck club, whose membership included numerous heads of industry, made me pause slightly. I mean, I’m the kind of guy who loves rich brown leather, thick woolen garments and things manufactured out of waxed canvas – traditional outdoor garb. Not boots commonly seen in urban fashion or on the feet of Hip-Hop artists.

That’s when Billy showed me the light – and it was golden wheat! The unique colored nubuc was in fact the original waterproof boot back in the day. I’m sure there is some debate on exactly when it was developed, but I am confident this boot was born out of utility decades before it found a home in today’s fashion. I love the fact that those lines are routinely blurred.

I’m told that before today’s popular waterproof membranes appeared in our outdoor footwear the best you could hope for were silicone impregnated leather boots. Since heavily oiled leather simply wouldn’t accept the siliconea softer, dryer leather was sought. Nubuc rose to the occasion. The combination of the golden wheat color and “waterproofness” soon became eternally linked.

Once I heard the full explanation I was sold. In part because I needed a warm boot guaranteed to repel the mud and the muck, but also because the true history of this leather had been revealed. Hunting the Snohomish River flood plain was perfect. We hunted numerous potholes that dotted the river bottom. Not quite dry ground, but not knee deep in the water either. The marsh had been cultivated with corn and wild blackberry, creating food stores and cover for waterfowl and black-tailed deer, an idealic waterfowl scene.

In the end, the hunters had great success with the ducks and I had some interesting boot history to share with our hosts.

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Esper Farms


After five DUTV hunts in seven weeks I was ready for a break. I was anxious to drop the duck gear in the garage and enjoy some much-needed time at home with the family. But, I did manage one free morning. So, what’s an outdoor television producer to do? Go hunting!

With my wife at work and the boys at school I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go hunting with an old friend. Not to mention the idea of picking up a shotgun instead of a heavy Panasonic HD camera was rather appealing.

Witnessing first hand how the recent cold snap was pushing birds down from the Illinois River Valley to Missouri and Arkansas I decided to make the short 45-minute drive east of my home in Tulsa, Oklahoma to Esper Farms.

The small Midwest duck haven on the banks of the Arkansas River boasts a 4-acre spring-fed pond with an abundance of food and cover. Small in size, but big on action, the family duck club is not unlike any other club you might find across this great country of ours.

On a typical morning you might find my good friend Vaughn Esper in the blind hunting with his two lovely granddaughters or sipping coffee with an old friend. For those lucky enough to be invited, the farm is the ideal getaway for an early morning shoot.

Constructed by Vaughn himself the roughhewn duck blind was milled from the surrounding cash of red cedar that grows thick in our part of the world. Situated smack-dab in the middle of the pond it’s easily accessed by a narrow earth jetty. Easy walking. But more importantly dry!

A veteran outfitter of 30-plus years Vaughn is the man in charge of decoy placement, so there’s rarely a need for hip boots or waders. This was especially nice because I wanted to take advantage of the sub-freezing temperature and test my new Chippewa Country boots. The series is waterproof, lightweight, durable, comfortable, and features a Vibram sole. Everything you’ve come to expect from Chippewa.

In the end we passed on more ducks than we shot, we reminisced about past adventures, sipped coffee, and generally enjoyed the crisp morning. It seemed like a fitting way to end my first year Living in Chippewa Boots.

How will you wrap up your fall hunting season?

 

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Ducks Unlimited TV


As a member of the Ducks Unlimited TV crew I have been fortunate to work and hunt with some of the best outfitters, guides, callers, and dogs in the waterfowl industry. In last eight weeks we have diligently followed the fall migration south from Alberta and Saskatchewan to North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Illinois.

We have hunted Devils Lake, ND where the seemingly possessed body of water is literally swallowing up thousands of acres as it steadily expands. We hunted the actual waters of Green Bay (which thanks to the zebra mussel isn’t all that green anymore) and toured Lambeau Field – the home of the Packers. And, we’ve hunted the historic Illinois River Valley and seen the home of famed carver Charles Perdew.

Interestingly enough this was my first opportunity to field-test a pair of boots day-in and day-out for three solid weeks. We all know there are boots for every occasion and outdoor discipline, but when I looked at the DUTV production schedule last month I knew I needed a versatile boot that would stand up to the rigors of the never-ending waterfowl season.

Whether I’m dry field hunting in insulated bibs or simply using my boots to get me from the motel to the boat ramp, the boots had to meet a strict criterion: waterproof, warm, surefooted, and easy to slip on and off.

First, briar oiled leather with the Chip-A-Tex waterproof membrane was a no-brainer. Second, I wanted toasty warm phalanges and 400-grams of Thinsulate sounded like it would do the trick. Third, the fairly aggressive Montana Vibram sole would undoubtedly provide the necessary grip. And fourth, an easy on/off 10-inch topped pull-on would round out my requirements.

Can you guess which Chippewa boot I have just painstakingly described? It’s non other than the 10-inch Briar Norwegian Welt. I know what you’re thinking. The Norwegian Welt series? It’s probably not the first boot that comes to mind. But it should be! Even though it doesn’t conjure up classic images like the Chippewa Super Logger or snake boot, for me it was the perfect fit – in more ways than one. You should really check it out!

 

 

 

 

 

With three solid outings in my Norwegians (North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Illinois) and four more hunts booked before the end of the year (Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, and Chesapeake Bay) it’s safe to say these boots are going to experience some serious wear and tear. Including the in between outings with my favorite duck caller – three and half year old Will Garner.

Keep in mind it doesn't matter if you're hunting big spreads in Central Saskatchewan or puddle ducks in Muskogee, Oklahoma Living in Chippewa Boots is what you make it. And frankly I’d like to know how you do it?

P.S. Any migratory bird information would be greatly appreciated.

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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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