Tough Shoes to Fill Bugle Magazine - Mar/Apr 2007
By PJ DelHomme
When Bryan Ulring was a hunting guide near Bozeman, Montana, and had just picked up his clients at the airport, he made his first stop Schnee's on Main Street in downtown Bozeman. Most times, he says, his hunters would get off the plane in shoes that were made for walking on concrete, not in elk country. "The key to success on a hunt is to keep the clients out and keep them comfortable," he says. The easiest way for Ulring to keep his clients successful and happy is to get them into a pair of real hunting boots that will last a good 10 to 12 years-boots that bear the Schnee's name.
Ulring doesn't guide professionally anymore, but he hasn't strayed too far from the lifestyle. He's the manager for Schnee's government and corporate sales and has stories attesting to Schnee's quality that stack higher than their 13-inch Hunter pac boot.
He first saw the Schnee's boots in action up the Taylor Fork near Yellowstone National Park on a cold day-15 below zero cold. Two guys came walking up the trail in their Schnee's, and while his feet were nearly frostbitten, the other two guys couldn't have been happier. He was sold. The first day he wore his new pair, he was out chasing goats in the Madison Range in 3 feet of snow. It was the most miserable day he'd ever experienced, he says, but at least his feet were warm.
Comfort and quality are important out on a hunt, but only as long as there are actual places to hunt, which is why Schnee's has been a supporter of the Elk Foundation for nearly 20 years. Their products are featured in the Big Game Banquet catalog, and recently Schnee's paired with the Elk Foundation to donate a portion from each purchase of their legendary hunter pac boot, which turns 25 this year.
For 32 years, Schnee's has been a Bozeman landmark catering to the hunter and outdoorsman. Their Hunter pac boot features a steel shank for arch support, a contoured leather uppers and a sole that combines soft, round nubs with a hard lugged edge. And if you find yourself living in these boots, like many in Montana in the winter months, you can have the soles replaced while keeping your comfortable broken-in uppers. In 2006, Schnee's began distributing a line of boots to retail chains such as Sportsman's Warehouse and to independent stores that cater to hunters and outdoors people.
It's hard to talk with anyone who owns and hunts in a pair of Schnee's who doesn't swear by them. Jon Edwards, an avid elk hunter, Schnee's president and active supporter of the Elk Foundation says Schnee's boots have created a following of hunters from around the country. "We're blessed to have a lot of customer who are loyal to us, and that number is growing by leaps and bounds," says Edwards.