Category:  Mike Garner Outdoors

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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Saskatchewan Waterfowl


Last week while curled up under a camouflage ghillie blanket in the middle of a Ducks Unlimited TV Saskatchewan goose hunt I couldn’t help but look at my boots and think how lucky I was to be reaping the benefits of a chance meeting that took place almost 10 years ago.

It was the 2000 Shooting Hunting Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show in Las Vegas, Nevada and I was a fresh-faced television producer working on a new ESPN Outdoors series called Wildlife Quest.

Like a lot of outdoor television producers navigating the tradeshow floor, I was eager to impress the manufacturers of sweet outdoor gear and apparel with our exploits in the field. Knowing we had a few South Texas hunts on the production schedule I was hoping to get my hands on a pair of the best snakeproof boots on the market – the iconic Chippewas!

Strolling into the Chippewa booth I was greeted by Billy Lovell the man in charge of all product development for Chippewa and the very same man who, over the years, would unwittingly become one of my best resources at the company. He was patient, listening to my spiel as I explained how Chippewa would be better served working with our series.

After a surprisingly short deliberation Billy agreed. We got our boots and Chippewa got prime product placement in a highly rated hunting series streaming into an estimated 85 million households. In the end I think Billy was a better marketer than I was a salesman – well-played sir!

Nevertheless, my relationship with Chippewa was born and although it would only take 10 short years of phone calls, emails, and the occasional boot request before the Chippewa brand manager, Clark Perkins would “discover” me it was well worth the wait.

Fast-forward to October 2010 and a fresh cut wheat field about an hour outside of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Camo-clad and camera-ready the cast and crew of DUTV sat and waited. It was cold, overcast, and windy – the perfect recipe for dry field duck and goose hunting. Bundled up and booted in my comfy 10” mocc toe back zip upland boots I really did stop and think how ironic – who would have thought a handshake and a tradeshow conversation would have turned into this?

Thanks to our guides from Prairie Rose Outfitters who had been diligently monitoring bird patterns the hunt was wildly successful. They had identified a prime staging area for the fall migration giving us the perfect opportunity for a mixed bag of Canada geese and assorted ducks.

There’s a lot to be said about hunting in a pair of good boots, with good friends, and good guides. Hopefully your fall hunting season has included all three. Let us know!

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The Pendleton Round-Up


I have to admit this month’s blog is about one of the most memorable experiences of my life.

I currently have the pleasure of documenting the 100th Anniversary of the historic Pendleton Round-Up! It’s a rodeo, a big rodeo. Happening right now. And it’s more than a big deal, it’s Pendleton!

The Round-Up has long been associated with iconic western images ranging from parades and pageants to Indians and bronc busting. But for me, the two things that immediately stuck in my mind were the sheer size of the Round-Up “Let’er Buck” arena, with its unique 140-yard long grass infield and surrounding dirt track, and the overwhelming sense of history and tradition.

Historic in size and stature the Round-Up has played host to some of the biggest names in rodeo. Founded in 1910, the Round-Up originally served as a northwest championship. Today it’s one of the ten largest rodeos in the world and currently the largest four-day rodeo anywhere. In addition to the seven PRCA sanctioned events (Bareback, Tie-Down Roping, Saddle Bronc, Team Roping, Steer Wrestling, Barrel Racing, and Bull Riding) Pendleton features Steer Roping and a handful of crowd pleasing “throwback” events like wild horse races and classic saddle bronc riding.

Just in case you’re not familiar with classic saddle bronc riding there are no chutes, just a cowboy and a blindfolded horse, which is held steady by two or three of his closest pals in the middle of the arena. When rider is ready, the horse’s blindfold is removed and things get very interesting, rather quickly.

Obviously I was luckier than most, as a producer/cameraman I was able to record every exciting moment. I was given an all-access arena pass that allowed me to maneuver through gates, around barriers, and behind the chutes; fun but dirty work often requiring the television crew to move quickly from one event to the next.

This type of fast-paced work often requires a certain level of disregard for your personal gear. You’re going to get hot, sweaty, and dirty, which is never a problem at rodeos because of the dress code – hats, long-sleeved shirts, jeans, and boots are required. And it’s never been a problem for this Oklahoma State boy. But, since I wasn’t real excited about getting my new Nocona OSU full-quill ostrich boots dirty I decided to pull on my tough green-topped Chippewa Arroyos – a boot series built for abuse. The same abuse routinely handed out on farms, ranches, and rodeos across this great country. Constructed out of heavy-duty oiled leather and long-lasting Vibram soles they’re the perfect western work boots. And in my opinion, especially suited for the rigors of the “Let’er Buck” arena. If you were not familiar with the Pendleton Round-Up or rodeo in general I would encourage you to check it out. There are few places keeping the cowboy spirit alive like Pendleton!

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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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