Category:  Mike Garner Outdoors

What was your favorite part of Turkey Season 2010?

My first pair of Chippewa boots were a gift from former Dallas Cowboys tight end and ESPN Outdoors host Jay Novacek. It was the summer of ’99 and I was a young associate producer working with Jay on the Cabela’s Sportsman’s Quest series. Needless to say, I was more than a little excited about my new outdoor swag and the opportunity to work with the Cowboy legend.

The 17-inch lace-up snake boots were a welcomed surprise from the 3-time Super Bowl Champ and 5-time Pro Bowler, proving to be a great introduction to the Chippewa brand and Jay’s generous nature. I wore those boots for years on numerous turkey hunts and white-tailed deer adventures – never completely wearing them out.

With that story and those boots in mind, I prepared for the 2010 Oklahoma spring turkey season. Taking stock of my hunting boot collection, I decided to look for a new pair of Chippewas that would last as long as Novacek’s original pick.

Anticipating spring showers, I wanted a durable, waterproof, and all-around over-the-calf hunting boot that would continue to perform beyond turkey season- a boot without laces that would serve me equally well dove hunting in South Texas or chasing pronghorn antelope across New Mexico. The added benefit of a boot that could withstand a strike from a venomous snake would just be icing on the cake.

So, when I saw the Briar Pitstop Pull On Snake Boot for the first time online I didn’t pay much attention to the words “Espresso Vipercloth” or “Chip-A-Tex” membrane system. Simply put, I saw a snake-proof, waterproof boot with hunting friendly dark brown leather and olive uppers. Everything I wanted – with a Vibram sole to boot!

Fast-forward to Oklahoma’s month long spring turkey season – April 6th to May 6th. Between work and travel I only managed a handful of outings, but I still got out there! I roosted birds, hunted a couple mornings, and made a few evening sits. In the end I had one humbling encounter with a nice gobbler and a poorly placed oak tree. What can you do? I chalked it up to experience. Regrettably there was no camera guy to blame for my misfortune.

I like to think that a lot of experience and a little luck goes a long way when turkey hunting. I’ve produced turkey shows from the Carolina’s to The Big Island of Hawaii and almost everywhere in between, and I know what works for my shows and me. I have my favorites – television hosts, boots, calls, turkey vest, set-ups, camera angles, and destinations.

So, after posting a big fat goose egg off-camera this year I’m a little curious. Whether your statewide spring turkey season wrapped up in March like Hawaii or goes strong through June like Maine – What was your favorite part of Turkey Season 2010?


Don't let tax season get you down

April 15th – probably the worst day on the calendar, unless you’re writing a new blog entry, like me. If you read my January, February, and March entries you have to be wondering how an outdoor writer draws inspiration from this most unholy of days? Easy. Here’s a friendly tax tip to consider before the end of the year.

If you’re a self-employed hunting guide, outfitter, logger, ranch owner, or work as an independent contractor in an industry where high performance footwear is a must-have, then I have two words for you – Write-Off!

Seriously, expensing a great pair of boots has to be one of the best business perks available to guys like us. I would encourage you to find the best-designed, best-built, best-fitting boot applicable to your line of work and buy a pair – or maybe two.

Obviously I’m not an accountant, so check with your CPA to determine if these savings apply to you. Every little deduction helps, and I’m confidant you would prefer to hold on to as much of your hard-earned cash as possible. By the end of the year your wallet and your feet will thank me, but I digress.

OK, we have finally come full circle making the leap from vintage World War II aircraft and custom motorcycles to taxes and my bread and butter – the Great Outdoors!

For anyone who loves the outdoors as much as I do, this is the time of year when most sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts are gearing up for turkeys, camping, summer hikes, and anxiously awaiting the arrival of the fall hunting season.

We’re already two weeks into Spring 2010, and I’ve been busy roosting gobblers and breaking in boots. This year I decided to ease into the whole “breaking in” process. I chose a lightweight Chippewa Hiker, a bass boat, and a collegiate bass fishing tournament – not extremely rugged, but effective.

I recently spent three days in Russellville, AR crisscrossing beautiful Lake Dardanelle, hopping in and out of boats, climbing rocky shorelines, and trying to keep pace with 125 testosterone-driven collegiate anglers in 63 bass boats. It’s important to note there was a lone lady angler in the field, every bit as qualified and driven as her male counterparts.

Hosted by Arkansas Tech University, this leg of The Collegiate Bass Fishing Tournament Series proved to be an eye opener. Did you know there are more than 150 colleges and universities across the country with recognized fishing clubs? I didn’t.

They compete for cash, prizes, scholarships, and bragging rights. You have to love an organization that promotes sportsmanship, outdoor ethics, and still holds these angling students to a high academic standard.

It’s a unique opportunity where young men and women are able to represent their schools while participating in what is arguably America’s most popular outdoor recreational activity – fishing. And, it makes for great outdoor television!


Street Warrior

I can’t deny the classic engineer boot has been a running theme for me these days. But, I make no apologies. The boot became an instant favorite back in January when I pulled them on for the first time. And I may have been content to move on to the next pair of boots – but then came WarBikes!!

A docu-reality series about custom motorcycles inspired by vintage World War II aircraft, the show is the perfect blend of horsepower and history designed to create awareness for a historic fleet of warbirds and to help the organization that keeps them in the air. The Arizona Wing of the Commemorative Air Force at Falcon Field in Mesa, AZ supports a fairly large group of aircraft including the B-17 Sentimental Journey – our inspiration for the latest bike build.

As a television writer and producer, I could not have asked for a better backdrop or storyline. Honoring the men and women who built and flew these historic planes takes passion and teamwork. It also takes a hands-on master craftsman and a special shop to deliver. Ralph Randolph, a commercial airline pilot and custom bike builder, is that guy, and his shop, Knockout Motorcycle Company in Mesa, AZ, is that place.

The mystique of the motorcycle, popularized in the 1950’s, has never been stronger. The success of custom build shows and shops across the country are proof positive. So, when pre-production discussions turned to wardrobe the vote was unanimous – don’t change a thing. Putting the Street Warrior Series to work on the set of WarBikes was really a no-brainer. Is there a more instantly recognizable motorcycle boot on the planet? I don’t think so.

I opened the box and pulled out the stovepipe topped, buckle-clad boots with the smooth black finish and one image came to mind – Brando in The Wild One. If you’re not familiar with the film you’ve undoubtedly been exposed to its influence – look no further than this boot.

As a total motorcycle rookie I’ve always been curious where quality footwear fits into the mix. I’m told that next to the helmet, a comfortable pair of boots with great ankle protection and durable rubber soles are the best you can wear.

For me, the old adage “Where the rubber meets the road” finally has relevance.



Flying Over Mesa, Arizona

You wouldn’t think flying in a vintage World War II era T-6 Trainer would evoke thoughts or memories of rugged outdoor footwear. And, I have to admit the thought didn’t immediately cross my mind. But, somewhere over Mesa, Arizona, that’s exactly what happened.

I recently found myself working in the back seat of a T-6 Trainer, flying at a comfortable cruising altitude of 3,000 feet and moving along at a steady 150 MPH. While capturing some beautiful HD footage of vintage aircraft in formation the thought occurred to me, I was wearing a pair of boots that could have easily been found in that same plane 70 years ago.


The North American T-6 Texan was a single-engine trainer aircraft used to train pilots in the United States Army Air Forces, United States Navy, and the Royal Air Force, among others. The plane was first flown in 1935 and was in full-blown production by the late 1930’s.


The popular warbird aircraft is the subject of a project I am producing called WarBikes. The only “outdoorsy” thing about the series is the fact that we are shooting out-of-doors. Not the typical sports afield type story most boot guys would associate with the Chippewa brand.


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Nevertheless, the classic engineer boot would have been found on land surveyors, ship builders, and no doubt engineers connected with everything from public works projects to aircraft manufacturing – thus the name.

What’s not surprising is the fact that a product designed with practical utility in the late 1930’s would find a home in fashion today. Such is the case with the engineer boot. The stovepipe tops and the adjustable leather straps across the ankle and top of the shaft allow for the perfect fit.

Ironically, the Chippewa Shoe Company of Chippewa, Wisconsin, originally produced the boot. Although their address has changed the boot hasn’t.

What more can you say about a tough good looking pair of boots suitable for everything from riding motorcycles to flying planes?


SHOT Show 2010

As a life long sportsman and admitted outdoor footwear addict, I could not have found a more appropriate place to kick start a little boot dialog than one of the industry’s most demanding proving grounds – the 2010 SHOT Show.

Don’t laugh. I’m serious. With 700,000 square feet of smooth concrete and poorly padded carpet, the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV, presented an ideal opportunity to test the comfort and fit of a good pair of boots.

And I wasn’t the only one. The ultimate shooting, hunting, and outdoor trade show featured miles of aisles with 1,633 exhibitors, 31,280 buyers, and 1,804 media professionals. Almost everyone covering the same ground the same way – on two feet.


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I chose the best of both worlds; a great fitting all-leather boot with ample support and more than enough style to pass as a working media professional. The classic engineer boot in tan bomber jacket leather was perfect with jeans and a button-down shirt. And the distinct Chippewa brass buckle set me apart from the rest.

The idea that you need loose, steep, or even rugged terrain to properly scrutinize your footgear is fairly inaccurate. The simple fact that Mother Earth is comprised of shock-absorbing soil and vegetation is often overlooked.

The shock of concrete floors is transferred from the foot, to knees, to hips, and lower back. And it’s that prolonged exposure that creates the discomfort and fatigue often associated with long hours on convention floors or chasing billy goats up and down rocky peaks.

Nevertheless, in four days on the SHOT Show floor I averaged almost 7,000 steps per day or about 3.5 miles. That’s according to my trusty Walking Shop step counter, (kind of dorky but effective.) In the end it was the feet that told the story. Great fit. Successful show. Not a bad test.

So, I beg the question. How do you put your outdoor footwear to the test?

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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