Old Leather

We’ve all got them, the ones that the minute you slip into them your foot recognizes the feel.
Mar 11, 2022

We’ve all got them. Mine are that pair of old Irish Setter boots. You know the ones with the scars and colors of an old warrior. I remember winning them at a Ducks Unlimited banquet more years ago than I care to remember. The ones that the minute you slip into them your foot recognizes the feel.

I wonder how many miles I’ve walked in them? Sometimes on the hunt for grouse through thick patches and tangles of hazelnut and tag alder and sharp scratching from the raspberry bushes. Or sometimes during early archery season before the leaves surrender to constant early morning frosts and the surrendering sun a little lower every evening. They have been soaked through from rain and early frosts and record early snows, sand blasted by winds, and cemented hard by dried mud and muck from an unknown deep spot in the bog. There are dark oil spots on one of them from a long-forgotten mechanical breakdown and emergency repair on the Jeep.

The old pair of Irish Setters

Those old boots have outlasted countless pairs of rawhide and nylon laces, each leaving a permanent scar from being cinched up extra tight for that long walk. Even the hard scrabble and talus of the mountains couldn’t breakdown the bovine hide that seems to get stronger with each call to duty. They have saved your toes, and soles, and ankles from serious injury, and yet feel so soft, and comfortable, and familiar inside. I’ve replaced liners in my Pac boots, and Mukluks, and even resoled my old Double H cowboy boots, but never even replaced the insoles in the old leather boots.

A collection of my boots, but none seem to measure up.

I’ve put them up on a shelf in the garage a couple times when in a weak moment I purchased a new pair of boots. New advanced synthetic nylon compounds resistant to everything the world can throw at them. Their fast-lacing system and light weight frame tempts even the hardiest outdoorsman. But they just don’t feel the same, sound the same, and wear the same, because they aren’t the same as those old leather boots. So sooner rather than later I come to my senses and pull the old leathers back down from the garage shelf and renew a long-standing friendship. I always feel a little guilty and promise to rub a good coat of saddle wax into them if I remember. Hopefully I will, but right now I’ve got a long walk down that old logging road to attend to.

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