By Mark Heinz, Outdoors Reporter
Danner, Schnee’s, Kenetrek – or how about a pair of good old Red Wings?
The debate over what’s the best footwear for hunting big game has been long and, at time, intense. A girl from Lander may have finally settled the longstanding argument.
‘They’re My Lucky Crocs’
That’s what Sadie Putnam, a freshman at Lander High Valley School, was wearing last week when she killed her first bull elk. She wore the floral-printed slip-ons to school the next day still stained with the elk’s blood.
“I’m never going to wash them,” she told Cowboy State Daily. “They’re my lucky Crocs.”
That logic is difficult to refute considering the results, said her father, Darren Putnam.
“She told me, it (the elk’s blood) just added to the coolness of the Crocs,” he told Cowboy State Daily.
Sadie said her schoolmates were impressed.
“Most of the kids I go to school with are ag kids,” she said. “They were like, ‘Oh, that’s so awesome!’”
Darren said his daughter has had an affinity for Crocs for awhile, so he wasn’t surprised she chose to wear them on their hunt.
“Her mentality is if you’re not Crocin’, you’re not rockin’,” he said.
They’re very versatile and are a comfortable, easy choice for doing chores, Sadie said.
“I just love how easy it is to just slip them on and go,” she said. “Like, when I have to go feed the cows really quick.”
When A Plan Comes Together
Sadie, her dad and her brother Michael Putnam have hunted together many times. They’ve frequently had to hike long distances through rough country in the sorts of places where even Sadie had to wear traditional hunting boots.
But when the opportunity came for a quick “after school” hunt last Tuesday, there wasn’t time for Sadie to go home and change when her dad came to pick his kids up.
Darren said he knows of a “little piece” of BLM land within short driving distance where his kids’ elk tags would be valid. So, they headed that way, hoping to find elk and an opportunity while daylight lasted.
“We just happened to catch them (the elk) crossing that BLM property,” he said.
The trip parked their truck and donned their required florescent hunting vests, per regulations (Sadie said she wears florescent pink).
She also grabbed her Howa .308 rifle with a “muddy girl” pink camouflage stock.
“Her grandpa loaned her that rifle to shoot a few times, and she decided she was going to keep it,” Darren said.
Reaching a spot where they would have a chance at getting shots required a bit of hiking through native grass, brush and shrubs.
Sadie said she was thankful to have worn socks underneath her Crocs.
“It was pretty good, honestly,” she said. “My feet were pretty comfortable, but I did get a couple of little stickers in them.”
But the casual footwear didn’t hamper her ability to stalk the animal.
“We had to set up a little bit (before getting shots),” she said. “We didn’t have much time. They elk didn’t like us being there and they were on the move.”
When Sadie got an opportunity for a clean shot at about 160 yards, she didn’t hesitate and was excited to get her first bull elk.
“I’d never shot anything bigger than a forky (fork-horned deer),” she said.
Michael also dropped a bull, which had a unique extended brow tine on its antlers.
“He told me, ‘I didn’t shoot a bull elk, I shot a unicorn,’” Darren said.
More Hunting In Crocs?
Sadie isn’t done hunting this year. She still has a cow elk tag and a general deer tag to fill.
And she’s willing to hunt while wearing Crocs again if the circumstances are right.
“Yeah, I think I’d try it,” she said.