An Experience-What does breaking in your boots really mean?

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This weekend is the end of my Bull Elk tag here in NV. As I write, I continue to dwell on the fact that I cannot even apply for another bull tag for another 7 years in my home state. The toughest part is knowing that I gave it my all and ended up coming home empty handed. As I think back to all the things that could have gone better and worse, I am pressed to believe that my physical conditioning was awesome while my feet had other plans. I also had a first time hunter on this adventure with me and he suffered a tough battle with his feet. As you hear the story below, you will learn a bit of what could happen to you as you journey into the mountains for a real backcountry hunt.

We began our journey at the trailhead which heads into the wilderness. When you hunt the wilderness, you cannot take in any wheeled object such as a car, bike, ATV, etc. You can only go in with horses or hump it in there on your own 2 feet. I am not a man that owns horses and while I have thought about renting horses or a set of llamas, I have enjoyed hiking in by myself. This year, I had a first time hunter that joined East2West Hunts for the Annual Unlimited Tag App Package and I offered to have him come along on the adventure so he could truly see, feel, smell and taste the emotions that come along with hunting the backcountry.

Onto our first day. Edwin, my partner had a pack that was fitted just for him. As we began to go into the wilderness, he began getting the weight of the pack onto his low back. This caused him pain in his hips which ultimately gave him a rough 5 mile walk into camp. With that said, he mushed through with the pain but not without some rough times on his feet. You see, his boots were pretty new. While he wore them around the house, on a few hikes and a short coyote trip in the desert, he never wore them for a full day. I also was in a similar boat where I had a brand new set of Crispi Nevadas and I wore them on a few hunting trips but I never wore them for a few days straight going up and down the mountains.

You see, when people speak of breaking in a pair of boots, there is the talk of 10-20 miles that get brought up. I have to say that this week, we put roughly 60 miles on our boots and obviously our feet. The first day, blisters began to form on my buddies toes and the heel of his foot. By the time we got into camp, he was feeling quite rough and the question began to arise, “can I pack out an animal if we get it down?”

I was beginning to get hot spots on the bottom center of my foot. I have never gotten blisters on my feet from any hunting boot, especially a good quality boot. Nevertheless, I also was feeling rubbing on the back heels. This was quite concerning for me as well. We ended up getting some mountain house meals down and hit the tent. This is where we opened up the mole skin packs and began to take a look at what could be the make or break of our hunt. We ended up cleaning up, adding some mole skin on the hot spots and hoped that tomorrow brings up a better day depending on the hunting conditions.

As day 2 came about, we hiked up and down a mountain a couple times as well as went around an entire mountain, side hilling to stay off the main ridge. We did not want the deer and elk to see us at the skyline. We literally left camp at 4:00am and didn’t make it back until 10:30pm in the evening. This was due to staying out to hunt until last light and then we still needed to hike back down off the mountain and hit a trail which was a little over 3 miles. Well, our feet were absolutely rocked by the end of day 2. My foot however no longer had hot spots on the center and my heels were no longer rubbing! Win! I did however still have an issue with my big toe due to how I was walking downhill. I realized that I was knocking my big toe to the top of the boot every time we were heading downhill which was giving me pain and some swelling. My buddy was still having a rough time with his toe blisters but other blistering points on his feet were no longer there. His heel was still hurting however and this was seeming to be a similar issue as my big toe when he was going downhill. What we concluded as we were back at camp was that we were truly breaking in our boots with more and more miles and the main issues from the prior day were going away.

By day 3, I figured out that over tightening my boots was not the way to go and I needed to make sure my feet were able to have some move in them. This helped with all areas of my hikes as we continued on for another 10 mile day. My buddy did the same and the only issue he was having was his bruised heel that happened from day 1. So what is the truth of breaking in your boots when it comes to an experience like this? Here are a few things to note.

  1. You will not break your boots in on the first 10 miles.
  2. You will not break your boots in on the first 20 miles if you walk on only flat surfaces or perfect trails.
  3. You need to make sure that you are mimicking the environment that you will be hiking or hunting in. For us, our coyote hunt was very similar in environment but not in miles so therefore that is where we screwed up. Had we hiked for 10 miles in 1 day up and down the rocks in the desert, we would have felt the pain ahead of time and this would have lead to less pain and suffering as we went along on our backcountry hunt.

Now, we hustled and continued to hunt the same way no matter the pain. We made it through the week with 60+ miles and knew that there was nothing to stop us but ourselves. The key points here are the learned lessons that go along with the hunt which teach you what to do and what not to do in the future. I know that these boots will last me for years and I got quite a bit out of the way. My buddy is in the same boat and will be able to use these boots for years to come, knowing what it should feel like to have comfortable broken in boots.

I added a picture to this blog to show you what I mean by hiking up and down the mountains. Some might not believe but the elk are all the way to the top peaks and into the pines. You are literally hiking to the top of the mountain each and every day once you spot them.

Cheers to the life lessons and adventures now and in the future.

Scout, Hunt, Repeat my friends.

Alex~

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How do I get started hunting?

Last week, I had 3 people come up to me and tell me “hey, I heard you hunt? How do I get started? Can you help me get started?”

Well, either my passion is contagious or there are a lot of people out there that want to get started and have no clue how. I actually would say both are accurate. The truth is, not many folks are willing to go out into a new environment without knowing how to start. You need to either have a lot of will power and self dedication or you need someone to truly show you the ropes. The good news is that I have built East2West Hunts on this premise. My goal is to take people from zero to great hunter through education and resources. The extra is that you possibly could also join in on a hunting trip or two and truly learn via experience. You also will meet some great people along the way that likely could be your life long friends.

 

Here is how I breakdown starting with hunting. This is a simple step by step that will get your rolling in the right direction.

  1. You need to get your hunters safety course. You cannot get a tag or license in most states without getting a hunters safety license. This lets the state know that you have gone through the educational background to know how to use the tools necessary to be a bit safer and as ethical as possible in the woods. What you do from there is still on you. You will make the decision to be a good person with ethics or a poor representation of the hunting community. Here is the link to get started. Hunters Ed
  2. If you want to bow hunt, there is another course to take to truly get to another level. You will need this course to hunt in some states with a bow. It is call the IBEP  or International Bowhunter Education Program.
  3. Start watching some solid educational shows on Youtube. The amount of resources that are online here is just incredible. My favorites are watching shows and informational pieces on scouting by Randy Newberg or Steven Rinella. These guys are incredible when it comes to the way they operate with integrity as well as they are very educational for a first timer. I can say I use their resources on the daily for scouting or cooking some good meals from my wild game. Let me preface that there are thousands or videos, articles, books and more out there to use. I just prefer visual education from videos or shows which is why I choose to recommend this outlet.
  4. Find a hunting partner. They could be a newbie like yourself getting involved or it could be a best buddy you have that has been hunting for years and is the reason of influence for you. Either way, this is a big support for hunters because it would be the difference of success or failure on getting started.

 

Now that you have the 4 basics down, you need to formulate a game plan. What exactly do you want to hunt? Do you want to just get meat or are you interested in a solid trophy as well? What state do you want to hunt? Do you need to get a tag or a hunting license? These are real questions to ask which is where I would say things become daunting. I would advise that everyone start hunting in their home state first. Here are a few reasons for this.

  1. You get much cheaper licenses or tags in your home state. The state you live in is responsible for wildlife management and they want home staters to get out and enjoy the state game and fish. Therefore, there is a reward for you. This could be the difference of a $20 deer tag or a $400 deer tag.
  2. It is closer and you are more likely to get more familiar with an area than having to fly or drive far to another state.

Here is a true story. I never hunted elk until I moved to Colorado. It was a dream of mine but something I never was able to do for a multiple of reasons. The first year I moved there, I put a plan in place of what I needed to do to get a guide. Yes, that is correct, I hired a guide. I figured out what season I wanted to hunt, what weapon I wanted to use and started to line up dates for vacation from work. The amount of information I gathered from that hunt wasn’t fully absorbed until after I returned back from the hunt unsuccessful. I went back and analyzed what I did with the guides, how they operated and where they looked for elk. I saw where the true successes and failures came from. I like to say that I do not lose, I either win or I learn. This was 100% true on this hunt. I came home without an elk but I learned a whole hell of a lot. Now, I coach others on what to do and where to go. This is much different than a guide.

I work with clients on doing all of their tag applications for their desired hunting goals. This could be a goal for 20 years out that you want to hunt a bighorn sheep or it could be a 2 year plan of hunting an elk for experience and meat. Possibly, it could be both and usually is! I do point by point applications for clients or I do what I call the Unlimited Package. This package has me do all of your applications all over the country if you would like but it also includes education 1 on 1 via either Skype/FaceTime/In-Person (if local) monthly to really coach you on what you are doing throughout the year. This includes gear selection, prioritizing goals, looking at over the counter hunting options, point applications, bonus points, etc. Then, no matter where you are going in the country, we will work on where to go and how to hunt via professional resources. We then will take a look at google earth and put a plan in place to give you the best possible chance of meeting your harvest objectives. It truly is a one of a kind service that nobody else does and the resource pays for itself in hours because you learn things that took other hunters and I years to put together. This service isn’t just for the novice. If you have hunting goals or interests in animals that you have not hunted before, you will benefit from this. Why waste time when you don’t have to? Pretty cool eh? If you are interested in this personalized service like many other clients are, please give me a call at 720-248-7181 or shoot me a note at alex@east2westhunts.com

The one thing to note about hunting is that this is an investment in time and money that will not go away immediately. You will be refining and improving yourself along with your gear, tags, applications, etc for years! You must be serious and committed if you think you are going to get involved. Otherwise, your goals will never be met and there will be no long term outcome for you. I preface this for everyone because I want you to know what you are getting into. This is a community that is dedicated, especially the die hard whitetail hunters or the gritty backcountry hunters like myself.

Hope you get started or get more hunters involved so we can support the animals and the outdoors.

 

Scout, Hunt, Repeat

 

Alex