FOOT SMART: How to take care of your feet afield

As hunters, we ask a lot of our feet. They need to transport us across and keep us balanced on uneven terrain, sometimes for a number of miles. They help us carry our gear in and, hopefully, a big tom out, while staying warm and pain-free. Taking care of your feet is an important part of an enjoyable, successful day outdoors. Here’s how to keep your feet…

Drier.

Dry feet are not just more comfortable, they stay warmer and are less likely to have hot spots. Feet get wet from sweat, precipitation, dew, mud, standing water and anything else you might walk through that’s not dry ground. If your feet sweat a lot, try spraying them with antiperspirant or sprinkling them with an absorbent body powder. Wool-blend socks that wick moisture inside weather-proof, breathable hunting boots – the kind with a Gore-tex® or similar insert – are the best combination. Carry an extra pair of socks and switch to them if your feet feel damp. Don’t forget to trim your toenails (straight across is best), not just for comfort, but so they don’t make holes in the Gore-tex®.

Warmer.

Even insulated hunting boots may need a boost of heat on a cold day. Boots that are a half-size too big give your toes wiggle room, which circulates more blood through them. They also leave space for thicker socks or the kind with battery-powered heating wires threaded through them. Or stick disposable toe warmers on top of both feet, which, once activated give you four to six hours of warmth. In addition, rather than putting on your hunting socks and boots at home then driving an hour or two, put them on just before you head out, to keep them as sweat-free as possible.

Snake-Resistant.

If you hunt where a snake could strike you, select a knee-high hunting boot that resists punctures. The outer layer of a snake-proof boot is typically reinforced with rubber, Kevlar, leather or a similar tough material. They’ve also got a thick layer between the outer material and the lining for added protection. If you avoided snake-boots in the past because they were too stiff, the newest ones are more flexible.

Blister-Free.

Dry, cool feet don’t blister, but hot or damp feet do, wherever there’s excessive pressure against the skin. To prevent blisters, wear your hunting boots a number of times before turkey season, even if it’s just around the block a few times and avoid cotton socks which retain moisture. If you feel a hotspot, cover it immediately with a bandage or moleskin. Duct tape works in a pinch.

Nothing quenches enthusiasm for being afield and the desire to call in a turkey more than sore feet. If your feet are comfortable, you’ll be a happier hunter.

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