Four snowshoes that will take you to game when the drifts run deep.
Some winters, you need more than your mukluks to hunt the north country. It does little good to draw one of Montana’s January elk permits if you can’t step off the trail. And don’t even bother chaining up for Maine’s late-season muzzleloader hunt if you don’t have a pair of snowshoes. They are your ticket to ride these mountains and frosted forests, as crucial to success as the rifle in your hands.
**[BRACKET “1”] Tubbs Elevation **
The wide, rounded-tail design of the Tubbs Elevation sacrifices some maneuverability in dense forest, but the substantial footprint and pivot toe provide maximum flotation and fast tracking, making this an excellent choice for breaking trail or trekking over deep powder. Tubbs also offers less expensive models that scale back on the crocodile dentition underfoot, which isn’t needed in flat terrain. $239¿¿¿$289; 800-882-2748; www.tubbssnowshoes.com
**[BRACKET “2”] Yowie Light **
Australian-made Yowies were designed for backcountry rescue squads, but you’d swear they were made for hunters. At 21/2 pounds you can lash them to your pack and not notice they’re there until you need them. Then you strap on the sandal-style binding and go-anywhere. The hexagonal bottom scales provide traction using the same principle as a waxless ski. They’re best for walking, not gliding over deep powder. $129; www.yowies.com.au
**[BRACKET “3”] MSR Lightning Ascent **
Traction teeth along the bottom of the frame as well as on the crossbars and toe bottom give the Lightning Ascent mountain-goat stability. The innovative Televator heel bar prevents calf fatigue during steep ascents. This is a hardcore mountaineering shoe, best suited to elk hunting in the corrugated folds of the Rockies and deer hunting in dense forests, where you’ll be glad to trade a little flotation for surefootedness. $249; 800-531-9531; www.msrgear.com
**[BRACKET “4”] Redfeather Guide **
I wore Redfeathers on an elk hunt in the Madison Valley last winter, and though the rifle wouldn’t fire that day (the temperature was 42 below zero), the snowshoes brought me within range through drifts that were 5 feet deep. Never once did I have to readjust the ratchet binding system, a matter of no small importance when your fingers have assumed the consistency of frozen kielbasa. $209¿¿¿$229; 800-525-0081; www.redfeather.com