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Rut Gear: What Makes a Great Hunting Boot?

Nothing ruins a hunt like poor-performing boots. Dryshod has options for a variety of conditions.

Rut Gear: What Makes a Great Hunting Boot?

Hunting boots from Dryshod for a variety of conditions. (From left) ViperStop Snake, Evalusion, Southland, NOSHO Ultra Hunt, Shredder. (Photos courtesy of Dryshod)

When you’re looking for a new hunting boot they all look good at the store, on the Internet, or in the pages of a mail-order catalog. But when you’re sitting in a treestand at the crack of dawn on an early November morning, and the rut is rocking in your neck of the woods, that’s where you’ll really find out what your hunting boot is made of.

The worth of a great pair of hunting boots is usually proven in the “laboratory” of the whitetail woods. They need to keep your feet warm and dry, stand up to terrain even pull you through a cold, muddy bottom when Mr. Big has gone down.

Here are a few things to consider in a hunting boot.

Warmth Without Bulk

True confession time here, getting cold feet is one of the biggest hurdles in my hunting life. Part of it is me getting older, part of it is I’ve grown up in Texas and the South where really cold weather isn’t necessarily an issue as it is elsewhere. I admit my feet can get cold on a 50-degree day with the sun shining. And when a big November cold front roars through like it did as I was bowhunting the rut in Pike County, Illinois—with a 20-plus mph north wind and temps falling into the middle teens—then forget about it.

But if I can keep my toes toasty and warm, then I can stay on stand all day long, no matter what the temperature is, including a few years back during a frigid November deer hunt in Nebraska. That week, I put lessons into play, including keeping my feet dry. Next, I wore an effective sock system, including a moisture-wicking lightweight liner sock under a mid-weight merino wool sock. My insulated rubber boots on that hunt were warm enough but without movement-limiting bulk.

Does such a system work? Well, let’s just say that I hunted all-day long, literally dark to dark, on that Great Plains adventure while temperatures ranged from the mid-teens to the upper 30s. My toes stayed warm the whole way.

hunting boot
Dryshod NOSHO Ultra Hunt Men's Cold-Conditions Hunting Boot

No matter where you hunt, one boot to consider for your rut-hunting needs is Dryshod’s NOSHO Ultra Hunt Men's Cold-Conditions Hunting Boot, which keeps your feet warm on a cold day in the whitetail woods. The boot includes seven layers of protection, including an EVA cold-blocking midsole. Add in a 5.5 mm bootie, 2.5 mm DENSOPRENE XD foam, 2 mm air-mesh and a warm 2mm fleece lining, and there's 12 mm of insulating warmth and protection available for your feet.

Moisture Management

If cold feet are one of the biggest banes in my personal hunting world, then sweating is another important one. And make no mistake about it, you don’t want your toes to be damp when a northerly breeze kicks in, because they will soon turn into blocks of ice. If you’re hunting with a lace-up boot with either leather or synthetic style uppers, then moisture management can be as simple as buying a boot with a Gore-Tex membrane that transports moisture away from the skin, while still working to keep water from rainfall and swampy creek bottoms from gaining access to your toes.

hunting boot
Dryshod Southland Hunting Boot.

For rubber boot wearers—and my garage has several pairs—the rubber will obviously act as a moisture barricade to keep water from getting into the boot (unless you have a hole in it, that is). I’ve had a few of those over the years, too. One boot option that keeps exterior moisture at bay while effectively managing interior moisture is the Dryshod Southland Hunting Boot, which features the company's WIXIT Cool-Clad wicking air-mesh lining that also has added micro-dot perforations. It wicks moisture away from the skin and allows air to flow more freely around the foot than traditional air-mesh linings.

That is especially helpful in the South where temperatures can be mild during the November and December rut, with the Southland boot working to keep feet cooler when it's warm. And for those rare cold fronts that do make it down to the Gulf Coast, this Dryshod boot model—which comes in VEIL Whitetail camo—features a 4 mm neoprene bootie and a removable EVA sock liner that can aid in keeping feet warm and comfortable.

hunting boot
Dryshod Shredder MXT hunting boot.

Comfort and Durability

While a hunting boot has to be made from the right stuff on the inside to keep your feet warm and dry, you’ll also need a boot that delivers the goods with its exterior layers. While most boots look durable enough in the store, the real proof is how they handle a few seasons of busting through brush and covering terrain that can be rocky, swampy and a whole lot in between.

The Dryshod Southland has a double Achilles heel and instep reinforcement for comfort and protection. Another good choice is the Dryshod Shredder MXT, which features an upgraded outsole for extra grip and traction on rugged terrain.

Recommended


If you want the best of all possible worlds—lightweight, rugged and waterproof—Dryshod's Evalusion Hunting Boot uses a new super lightweight DUREVA outsole to give hunters comfort, energy return and stable footing no matter where they find themselves chasing bucks. That includes rolling and uneven terrain down low, rocky hillsides as you hike higher up, and even places where you need to stalk quietly as you look to settle the crosshairs or let an arrow fly on an unsuspecting buck pushing through the November woods.

hunting boot
Dryshod Southland Hunting Boot

Slither Protection

I’ll readily admit that maybe I’m a little paranoid here since I’ve had a few near-misses with rattlesnakes, cottonmouths and copperheads in the woods while deer or turkey hunting. And that’s not to mention one of my son’s was nearly being bitten by a rattler only a few days ago. I have a healthy respect for these slithering critters.

hunting boot
Dryshod ViperStop Snake Hunting Boot

Dryshod's ViperStop Snake Hunting Boot, a rubber boot that keeps you safe from snake bites with hand-laid, penetration-resistant rubber from the boot's top to its bottom. Add in the WIXIT Cool-Clad wicking air-mesh lining, the fact that this boot is a full two-inches taller than any other Dryshod model and other features designed to provide optimum comfort and protection, and this boot is a winner if you feel the need to keep your eyes to the ground while walking about.

And with the removable EVA sock liner and the genuine VEIL camouflage print outer layer, this Viperstop boot will do it all and then some according to the company.




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