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Prep Your Camo, Get in Shape and Break In Your Boots for Hunting the West

provided by John E. Phillips

In 1996, the late Dick Kirby, creator of Quaker Boy Calls and longtime Mossy Oak enthusiast, started mentoring Bear Kelly as a trapper. Bear primarily bowhunts, but he also hunts with a gun, a muzzleloader and a crossbow. He’s hunted in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania, as well as Alabama, Tennessee and Canada.

hunting out west Terra

When I go to another state or out West to hunt, I carry four different Mossy Oak camo patterns. For all of my hunting clothes, I wash them by hand in plastic mortar mixing boxes with a really good scent-free soap. Today, I use Code Blue, but back in the early days, I used a product called Nature’s Essence. Then I hang my clothes up to air dry well away from the house. Later I dig a hole in the ground that rainwater can run into carrying the scent of decay and leaves with it. Once the clothes are dry, I push all of my clothes into that hole and then hang them up to dry again. So, I’m getting a cover scent that’s natural to where I’ll be hunting.
In addition to matching the natural scent of where I’ll be hunting, I mix-and-match the camo to fit the terrain and the vegetation and the time of year that I’ll be hunting. I wear the camo that I feel works best for me at the time I’m hunting and in the area where I’m hunting. I’ll probably wear a different camo hunting shirt than camo hunting pants to blend in and be broken-up in my surroundings. If it’s early in the year, or the bushes look like Mossy Oak Obsession, I’ll wear that camo shirt. And I may have on Break-Up pants because that pattern is darker and more like the ground or tree trunk that I’m up against. The main way I test the camouflage I’m going to hunt with is, I’ll put it out in a place like where I think I’ll be hunting, and I’ll get 100 yards away and look to see if I can see the camo.

To get in shape for hunting the West, I start off by walking a lot. After I’ve walked for a while, then I’ll load my pack with everything I think I’ll need and then begin walking with my pack on my back. And you’ll soon learn that a lot of stuff in your pack are items you don’t really need. But always bring your binoculars, because you’ll use them all day long every day. 

According to the season and time of the year that I’ll be hunting, I’ll try to wear the boots that I’ll take on the hunt. One thing I’ve learned is if you’re walking constantly on a hunt, you don’t need a lot insulation in the boots. Insulation is a great thing to have in a boot in really cold weather, but in cool or hot weather, that insulation will wear you out and cause your feet to sweat more than it helps you. Even when you’re buying insulated boots, buy them one size larger, and put an additional innersole to take up space between your true size and the larger boot. You’ll also get an extra comfort factor with the innersole that you’ll come to appreciate. 

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