Imagine this: You got off work early. With extra daylight available, you gear up and hit the woods for a late-afternoon bowhunt. You quietly walk to your stand, ambitions high.
Everything’s going great until the unthinkable happens: You step over a log and a venomous snake strikes from the shade on the far side. Its fangs pierce your foot through your rubber boot.
Venomous snakes rarely bite humans, but they’ll sometimes strike as a defense mechanism when we invade their turf. According to the University of Florida’s Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, about 8,000 Americans a year suffer snake bites. That’s less than one bite for every 37,500 people. And thanks to modern medicine, only one in 50 million Americans will die from a snakebite annually. That means you’re nine times more likely to die from a lightning strike.
Venomous snakes, however, are common across much of the United States. You’re most likely to cross paths with them early in the season before the first frost, whether you’re bowhunting the South, Western prairies or anywhere else these reptiles live.
Hunters can take precautions by buying snake-proof boots. These models are built to prevent snake fangs from penetrating the boots’ outer layer and piercing your skin. Nicole Orr, senior marketing manager for LaCrosse Footwear, said snake boots help you focus on hunting by providing peace of mind.
“A good pair of snake boots will keep you comfortable and protected, so you can keep your mind on the task at hand without worrying about what might be hiding in the tall grass ahead,” Orr said.
Unlike regular rubber boots, snake boots feature special puncture-proof materials. Orr said LaCrosse has made snake boots for over 20 years, and offers them in several combinations of leather, rubber, neoprene and polyurethane. All models use a snake-guard lining made from an impenetrable material. That lining is sandwiched between the boot’s outside material and inner lining. It’s flexible, so hunters don’t feel like they’re wearing a hard cast.
LaCrosse Footwear uses a third-party lab to administer a pass-fail test on each snake boot it develops. The boot fails if snake fangs pop a balloon inside.
Xavier Kawula, product manager for the Muck Boot Co., said Muck uses neoprene, durable full-rubber coatings, and additional rubber coverage in its snake boots to protect against bites.
“The premium hand-laid rubber is our protection story,” Kawula said.
Muck introduced its first snake boot in 2008 after testing it for safety, strength and durability. Kawula said the company worked with a world-renowned reptile farm to check its boots against an Eastern diamondback rattlesnake. After filling the boots with inflatable latex bladders, Muck’s testers prompted the snake to strike the boot. Next, a snake handler forced the snake’s fangs to penetrate the boot. In both tests, the fangs didn’t damage the latex bladder.
Check the boot to ensure it’s snake-proof by reading its tags, inscriptions and packaging. Orr and Kawula recommend buying snake boots only from trusted, experienced brands.
Choose a model that handles the terrain and climate you hunt. If you hunt wetlands and marshes, choose waterproof, calf-high rubber snake boots. If you hunt rough terrain or regularly walk far, choose leather snake boots with a good tread and toe protection.
Good snake boots cost about $200, which is a bargain compared to medical bills and anti-venom injections. Don’t risk it. Buy snake-proof boots to protect yourself and your future.