A secret weapon for elk hunters!

I’m writing this with a little trepidation! As hunters we are sometimes known to keep our secrets to success close to the vest {in my case a fleece camo version}. Hunting elk with a bow requires a hunter to get close. In my case preferring traditional archery equipment I mean “real close”. To do so we are challenged by the triad of incredible sensory perception of elk, eyesight, smell and hearing. Perhaps originating as a prairie animal elk are adapt at seeing movement, but a well camo’d still hunter can overcome this with regularity. Smell and sound, those are another issue. The number one defensive ability is that incredible sense of smell. Try as we might with scent reducing clothing, underwear, soap, mouthwash, chap stick, etc. . If you’ve ever put in a fair day hunting elk, let’s say an average day of 8-10 miles up and down, lugging your bow and a day pack. Then, most likely, your going to smell like a man. One tiny errant breeze and the elk evaporate in an instant!

That leaves us with sound and their sense of hearing. Elk are noisy creatures by nature and the woods themselves are never quiet. However, they have the uncanny ability to discern what sounds are natural and what sounds are not.  Imagine the quick and singular sound of a 4 inch hoof compressing into the forest floor. The cadence of a quadruped walking is also total different than a biped.  The footfall of a human is very unique in the animal world. Think of our elongated heel to toe movement stepping in the the crunchy dirt and our inability to not stay in cadence like were still in a high school marching band. In September bow season it is often hot and dry. Preferred to hunt with a partner for calling we usually sound like an entire squad moving through the forest.

Thinking about this problem prior to our 2016 hunt I remembered an old Bowhunter Magazine article about a guided hunt in the Gila Wilderness of New Mexico. It is renown for its large elk and hot dry country. The writer said the guide forbid any hunter in his camp without bears feet. Bears feet were some type of boot covering that was used to deaden sound. That just might be worth a try, remembering the previous years dry noisy conditions. A quick look on the internet turned up bears feet. Not the kind I was looking for but cheap fury boots with fake claws. After a little more intensive search I found the Sneek Boots product from SneekTec. They are 1.25″ foam sandals with a removable fleece cover that strap to your hunting boots. They take some getting use to as it feels like your walking on jello. Additionally we found out quickly they perform similarly to your favorite snow skis if you try going down steeper slopes. But, they give you the ability to quietly move through the forest with the stealth of a natural predator.

The results were awesome as you can see in the attached video. Matt had to re position himself three times within twenty yards of this bull before making the shot at ten yards. Seldom have I seen something that really makes a difference, but this may just be one of those times. In the video, as we were tracking and not hunting we had taken the Sneeky Boots off and they are strapped to the bottom of Matt’s pack. Listen to the sound of walking in those woods with normal boots and you can understand how eliminating that sound was important. Stay in the hunt, and stay quiet!

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