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October 31, 2014

Footwear are like tyres. We know it should be high quality, after all it’s our only connection with the earth while we walk. But it’s just so tempting to skimp on the good mud terrains and whack on a pair of retreads to get by. Works in most cases, and I personally like the feel of a soft thin sole when stalking deer in the lush greens of South East Queensland, and wetsuit booties are often the boot of choice. But away from the coastal rain forest greenery it doesn’t quite cut the mustard, and it only takes one encounter with a prickly cactus to smarten up on appropriate footwear for types of terrain. Ignoring my good advice to myself, I recently embarked on a five day trip to Cape York to hunt hogs in the humid tropical summer. Typical dress code for the Cape is shorts, singlets, and thongs, so although cool, my poor feet were a hard, cracked state of affairs by the time I get home.

Enter Hunters Element Foxtrot boots. Foxtrot? Really? I ask myself as I eagerly tear through the over-enthusiastic postage wrapping. I remove the Veil camo adorned boots, give them a sniff (mmm, new boots smell!) The boots are very comfy straight out of the box. I do a little bit of Foxtrotting across the loungeroom floor and am surprised by their softness and quietness, and soon make sense of the name. Foxtrot. Light on my feet!

Two weeks and a few local walks later (no blisters, bunions, sore feet in sight) I am strapping them on to test their burr resistance in Bourke NSW, where thongs and wetsuit booties are a massive no-no due to the sheer ferocity of the flora. Everything either sticks, spikes or splinters.

We begin the trip with a familiaristion drive around the property, scoping for watering holes, feed, game trails and, of course, game. A large swamp becomes our favourite hotspot, and by the first morning I have guided Elissa onto a small boar feeding near the swamp edge. She nails him at 20 yards. That afternoon we spot a mob of billies and have a bit of a wander round on foot to ascertain whether there are any trophies. There isnt but I decide to take a billy for pig bait, and hit him perfectly, broadside at 60 yards. Later that afternoon we head out again to try to get Elissa onto a Billy. We park the car after spotting another mob, they are on the move and the walk takes us a fair way, but we eventually catch up with them and I manage to take a large billy at 30 yards with a sharp quartering away shot. I instruct Elissa to stalk in on the mob and see if there are other trophys, while I prepare him for photos. She finds a group of three good billys and we make a plan to get in to shooting range of them, putting in a great shot at 40 yards.  It is a fairly lengthy trek back to the car with 2 good billy heads, and the Foxtrots certainly get a workout.

After hours of walking, often in difficult terrain (sand, swamp and stubble) I find there is a good balance between ankle support and mobility. My legs do not feel the burden of a long walk in heavy footwear, and upon taking them off at the end of the day I do not even feel the need to beg, blackmail or barter for a calf massage! The soft and light soles allow me to get in quietly during a stalk, despite the crunchy undergrowth of the drought stricken country, but without the cursing of the dreaded encounters with devil thorns. Not that it is a necessity in this climate, but the toe cap would be ideal dew resistance in the wetter climates. As it turns out, the aforemention angry young boar tried to make a meal of my toes, but could not quite get through the rubber toe armour, and the hydrafuse lining kept my feet dry as I foxtrotted on the edge of a swamp trying to escape his chomping jaws!

By the end of the trip the Foxtrots no longer looked like new boots, with a splattering of pig blood, mud and a collection of burrs dread-locking the shoelaces (note to self, tuck them in next time!) But testament to their breathability, and my commitment and courage at sticking my nostrils anywhere near them, they still smell like new!

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