Regardless of hunting success, days spent in woods not wasted

Ralph Bartholdt

Fishing in the snow is painless.

It’s getting to the river that’s precarious.

Roads can be dicey, riverbanks are steep. Felt soles or the hard rubber river shoes act like Slip’n Slides.

Hunting is better.

Boots nevertheless — I have always preferred running shoes in the early season — are a necessity in snow like the stuff we have outside these days. It requires solid farm footwear.

For years, I used a pair of plain, brown, LaCrosse boots to chase deer and elk, but they were long ago replaced on the shelf with a racier lug sole and camo version meant to appeal to our fashion sense — just in case we meet a fellow well-heeled hunter on the trail:

“That’s a fine pair of boots you got there.”

“Thank you, this is the new Alphaburly pro series.”

“Look versatile.”

“Oh, yes, this particular version has Mossy Oak Breakup Version 1000 camo, elevated soles and a cool buckle. ... What are you wearing?”

“Just some old Extreetuffs.”

Caulk-soled Xtratufs are a solid, second go-to, but they are spendy and make a click-clicking sound on rocks, which is less natural than just a heavily-clad body slipping, falling and rolling through a brush field.

Once, on a snow-slick mountain named after a soft drink I chased after a cow and a calf elk, tripped and slid, buggering my scope. When I looked up, a half dozen elk stared at me, statue-like.

I was humiliated.

Then a bull I had not seen bugled, laying his antlers back over heavy haunches, and the entire gathering clobbered the ground as they disappeared over three ridges.

The bull, obviously a trickster, bugled several more times, each call growing more faint like a knee-slapper that keeps on giving.

We have stories like that because the more time we spend in the woods, the more humiliating, wild and kick-butt is the stuff we endure, observe or encounter.

A friend of mine was chased up a tree by a black bear he had missed with an arrow.

Further scrutiny of this tale suggested the bear did not chase him up the tree per se. Instead, fearing danger, the black bear briskly climbed the first tree it encountered, which was being used by my pal as a tree stand.

Another pal who bugled a nice six-point bull for me was chased by the elk across a ridge. The bull was either amorous or ready for a fight.

After the bull had slipped by me out of range, I heard my pal call, “He’s chasing me!”

I turned to look and confirmed it was true.

“Bring him down here!” I yelled back.

That story has nothing to do with footwear, although it happened in running-shoe season on a mountain named after a screw head.

My pal was wearing a pair of Crazy Mountain Vibram Sole lace-ups with the digital camo uppers and a two-finger pull strap.

They may as well have been PF Flyers. Man, he could move in those!

Bartholdt, a former reporter for the Lewiston Tribune, writes about crime, courts and the outdoors for the Coeur d’Alene Press. He can be reached at rbartholdt@cdapress.com.

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