WHY HUNTERS NEED SNAKE BOOTS
There is an old saying that many parents often employ to encourage a young child to be more observant: “If it were a snake, it would’ve bitten you.” While kids may laugh it off, the experienced hunter knows there are few statements that ring truer than this.
Anyone who has spent time in the field knows the dangers that lurk in high grass, murky waters or dark crevices. Common sense would say not to step where you can’t see the bottom, but practically speaking that’s not always the case. With dove season fast approaching, more and more hunters are going to be out in the field. One of the things hunters should be aware of, and unfortunately often miss, are snakes. Snakebite prevention begins first with paying attention to where you place your feet, even in areas where you do not expect to see snakes, and second, with what exactly goes on those feet.
Wearing snake-proof boots that have a shaft that goes to the bottom of the knee is common sense for hunters who spend many hours out in the wild. A snake’s striking range is typically two-thirds of its body length, so keeping your eyes open and maintaining vigilance could save you from a below-the-knee blow. In the field, peace of mind is important. With these specially designed boots on, you can walk with confidence through most terrain and not worry about the inadvertent encounter with a serious snake.
Billy Lovell, of Chippewa Boot Company, said vigilance is only one aspect of snake safety. “The thing is that you’ve got to always have protection while you’re in the field, because you never know when you’re going to run across a snake,” he said. With September maintaining the typical Texas heat, Lovell said dove season is a particularly active season for snakes.
“They’re agitated, and they’re always just out and about,” he said. “So no matter what you’re doing – whether you’re still back at the camp, or going from the truck to open the gate, or you’re going to go pick up a downed bird – it’s always a good thing to have the boots on, because you just never know when you might come across one.”
Although it’s true that snakes want to avoid people as badly as people want to avoid them, they will bite nine times out of ten if they feel threatened, surprised, or cornered – it’s just in their nature. Lovell said hunters are often likely to run across snakes when they’re on a hunt of their own.
“A lot of times, they like to hang out in areas where field mice and the small animals are attracted. Basically, a snake is always going to go where the food source is,” he said. “So they’re going to be around the old barns, and the old woodpiles, and the cars that are parked in the field that have been there forever.”
Snake boots are made with durable materials like cordura leather welting and viper cloth snake proof fabric that provide you with an impenetrable shield. The high-quality materials used in the boots will safeguard you from the venomous fangs, and they will not be able to reach you. If you stumble upon a snake’s path, you will not suffer any harm.
While hunters are less likely to run across a rattler in the middle of an open field than they are when hunting near old structures or woodpiles, the potential is still there. Lovell said the people who get bit – or “hit”– are often completely unaware that there’s a snake near them. “You just can never be too safe.”
No matter the age, skill level, or the amount of time spent in the field, Lovell said it’s better for hunters to be safe than sorry, especially when bringing kids out into the field. “If they’re able to carry a shotgun and retrieve birds, as soon as they can get a pair of snake boots on, the better off they are,” he said.
Throughout his years spent selling the protective footwear to hunters, Lovell said there are always a few stories that stick out to him. “Every year, we get at least two or three stories from someone who says, ‘Man, I’m glad I had those snake boots on, because I got hit and fortunately, they didn’t penetrate.”
A pair of snake boots can provide you with the comfort that you are looking for, as well as complete protection from snakes and other critters.
Texas Dove Hunters Association founder Bobby Thornton has had his Chippewas for nearly twenty years. “They are the most comfortable and durable boots I own,” Thornton said. “When it comes to hunting, it’s just another piece of equipment necessary for the success of the hunt. Everyone in my family has a pair.”
When out hunting, it’s easy to focus only on the task at hand: harvesting doves. However, if you want to spend many more dove seasons out in the field, take the advice of the pros and don a pair of snake boots.
BY HAYLEE UPTERGROVE