How do you deal with soggy feet?

Over the last couple of years I’ve been hunting the west side of the state for Elk. Affectionately known as the Wet side. This last year we had a tremendous amount of company lots and lots of hunters. One strategy that you can employ when there are so many people in the woods is to walk further than your competitors are will to go. On one such outing I had covered 4 or 5 miles and walked perhaps another mile still hunting. It was near the end of the morning when everyone knows the Elk are likely bedded down to chew their cud. Seamed like a good idea to me so I settled down on a particularly inviting log and began to peruse the menu. After finishing my Pop-Tart and half way through my apple I realized that the morning dew and random sprinkles from the evening before had completely soaked through my alleged waterproof boots. My feet were generally feeling wrinkly and uncomfortable.

It was a sunny day and rather warm and the log I had picked as my perch was in an old growth grove that reminded me of one of those grandiose cathedrals that scatter the country side of Europe. It was generally breathtaking and a great spot to relax enjoy a snack, marvel at nature’s wonders and of course to dry out ones feet. Since it was relatively wide open it would seem implausible that anything was going to be sneaking up on me. As I nibbled on some nuts I began to strip off my boots so I could set them in the sun and ring out both layers of socks. Remember what your hands would look like when you would take a really long bath as a child, yes you know the raisin sort of look, well that’s what my feet looked like. Walking around on feet like that is just a good recipe for blisters and a painful remainder of the hunt for weeks to come. As I rung out the apparent gallons of water from my socks I decided that rather than put them right back on I would hang them up to dry in the sun. There wasn’t a lot of undergrowth and laying them on the damp log seemed to be somewhat counterproductive. If only I had a clothes line where I could temporarily store them?

One of the things I often do to pass the couple of hours in the middle of the day is to sit down and read a good book. I’m a particular fan of Science fiction. In this particular book I was reading there was this exciting part where I left off the previous day. So there I am, thinking about that imminent space battle which is about to start and I need to find a place for these friggin soggy socks. Then it hit me, between the bow strings and the cables I can drape over all four and that will allow air to flow between the front and the back of the socks. What a perfect solution! I propped up the bow in the sun satisfied that I would soon have nice dry socks. With my butt on the log my back against a tree and my laundry hung out to dry I settled down to enjoy the woopen we’re about to lay on those alien heathens. All was going well, it turned out to be a decisive battle as the captain of the alliance fleet was about to spring the expertly laid trap, the small part of my brain still monitoring reality heard a twig snap. Unfortunately the captain in the novel was far better at preparing his trap than I was at preparing for the elk that had expertly snuck up on me.

There she was standing about 25 yards away staring at me trying to figure out what was that huge mess laid out around this log. Now I’m in my bare feet, lounging against a tree, holding a book, with a mouth full of nuts and my bow buried in laundry. How, I wondered, could I have possibly screwed this up so badly? She watched with apparent amusement as I slowly swung my feet onto the forest floor. Luckily there weren’t any sharp stick under my feet. I slowly reached for my bow and yes there was still an arrow nocked on it. Now, why did I still have an arrow nocked if I was going to cover the bow with socks? I simply have no logical response for that question but the fact remains I did. Ironically I was probably thinking I wanted to always be prepared. As I lifted the bow vertically the socks began to fall one at a time all except for the one that got hung up on the peep sight. As I reached up to remove the last obstacle to me being able to draw the bow the elk apparently lost interest in the show and began to walk away. It’s amazing how fast a walking elk covers ground she was behind one of those massive trees and then she was simply gone. I got a glimpse of her at about 85 yards as she continued to leisurely walk away. Well at least I was going to have Dry feet for the incredibly disappointing walk home.

It’s these types of hard nock experiences that you can learn from experience. I can say with a great deal of certainty if it wasn’t for the bowhunters Education Foundation class I would have a lot more stories exactly like this one. I know if you have been reading my articles it doesn’t sound that way but I am actually a pretty successful hunter and would love to share those successes with you so please go sign up for a Bowhunters Education class. Schedules can be found on the WDFW website.