The W.C. Russell Moccasin Company

Welcome to The Russell Moccasin E-Newsletter - Summer 2013

Email has become the gold standard of communication in our computerized world. Russell Moccasin would like to ask your permission to send you an E-Newsletter from time to time. We promise not to cover you up with junk mail. We would like to utilize this lightening fast and cost effective method of communication to provide you with company news, product developments and to provide you with some valuable information.

Our Customers Write

NOTE:  It is always a pleasure to hear from our customers and to learn that we have helped them achieve the “perfect footwear” for their use.  While we receive dozens of letters and emails every day, we thought we should share these two interesting customer letters with you. 

The following long and interesting letter was written by Russell Moccasin customer,
Barry Dworak of Boise, ID.


I'm writing to let you know just how happy I've been with the Minimalist Thula Thula’s I received last Spring.

A little more than a year ago, when foot pain had curtailed my running, then finally made it painful and difficult to walk, I went to my doctor. He is a long-time runner and hiker, and it took him only a little poking around to diagnose the problem. I had plantar fascitis exacerbated by scar tissue. Modern shoes and boots, which I believed were offering support, held my feet rigid, causing them to become progressively weaker and stiffer, until I, like so many others it seems, developed this pain.   The good doctor prescribed stretches and exercises to break down the scar tissue. He also recommended that I purchase minimalist footwear and work myself up to running as my feet became stronger and more flexible. The alternatives included a splint, a series of shots in my foot, and quite possibly surgery. I chose the first route, and while it has not been easy, and it has sometimes been painful, it has worked.

As I became more accustomed to shoes that allowed my feet to move, the question arose: what do I do about hunting? I owned shoes suitable to run on trails, another pair for gym and street use, and moccasins for indoor use. None of these were suitable for hunting, and certainly not for Idaho upland conditions. The hunting boots I owned now felt uncomfortably stiff, my feet hurt in them, and the heel rise caused my back to hurt. Not knowing that an alternative existed, and with a pair of gun dogs who knew nothing of my foot pain, I hunted anyway. My first attempt at a solution was to have my boots modified. This solved the heel lift problem, but they still felt stiff and unforgiving, and my feet still hurt.

I hadn't owned Russell’s in the past, but had been considering an order before putting the idea on hold when my foot problems began. In my search for minimalist boots with grip, water resisitance, and some protection I returned to your website hoping that you could create something that might work. I was excited to learn that, by then, you were already offering a minimalist line, and as I read about the Munson last, I knew that you had started making exactly what I needed.

Since we have to work to pay the dogs' mortgage and food bills, it took us awhile to make time to measure my feet. As soon as we did, I sent in an order for all-leather Thula Thulas for all-around outdoor hiking and light-to-medium duty hunting use, shown in the attached snapshot taken yesterday.

From the day they arrived, they've exceeded my expectations. Your custom-fit minimalist boots are the best outdoor shoes I have ever put on my feet by a considerable margin. Long hunting excursions or standing for several hours have ceased to be cause for ice and Ibuprofin. When camping, I never got that "got to get out of my boots!" feeling - they were as comfortable as camp slippers.

The boots required no break-in, fitting like gloves from day one. In fact, right after they arrived, I left for a week-long dog training trip, where I wore my new boots outdoors all day, every day. As flexible as they are, I had no trouble with hot spots or blisters, something veritably unheard of in a hunting boot. The same was true when I started using them on steep slopes. The Munson Last really does work as you say: it lets my feet move naturally, much like when I'm barefoot. Unlike my feet, the boots protect my feet from sharp rocks and cold snow.

SW Idaho terrain can be treacherous, and injured knees and ankles are common. For example, the areas where I hunt Hungarian partridge appear to be smooth, rolling, grass-covered hillsides, but are in fact covered with big chunks of lava rock obscured by short grass. In traditional boots, extreme caution is indicated to avoid injury, since one cannot see the contours of the ground. With a flexible boot, I could feel the uneven, rocky ground under my feet, and could not only walk safely and comfortably, but could even jog without stumbling when my big running dogs had gone on point 150 yards out.

These boots may be minimalist, but they have stood up well to some hard use. Because they were the only boots I owned that didn't make my feet hurt, I've worn them for chukar hunting in steep lava rimrock country. The ground here is covered with pea-gravel-sized lava, and hunting chukar requires climbing in boulders, both of which are hard on boots and knees. The boots have held up, and allowed me the agility to avoid injury.

Friends and family are accustomed to my expounding as to the wonderful traits of my new boots, but began to chuckle when I informed them that my boots had one more important feature. Training dogs, boots get, well, soiled on occasion. The first time this happened while wearing my new boots, I discovered that the Newporter soles were all clear! The soles similarily shed sticky mud, clay and manure, a fact most appreciated by my tidy wife.

I give my minimalist Thula Thulas 6 stars out of 5.

You guys also really helped me figure out another custom boot for situations requiring long off-trail sidehill jaunts along very steep canyon slopes, where the flexibility that makes the Thula Thulas ideal for most conditions can cause fatigue and overuse of foot muscles. The new boot used the Wapati Rambler as a base, but with a sole and midsole from the Thula Thula. We added 2" in height, a toe cap, and boar hide for the molded sole to protect against the aforementioned nasty lava pea gravel.

They only arrived recently, but I have had a chance to try them out, hunting and dog training, a few times. These boots are simply amazing. They have minimalist flexibility through the foot, with the triple vamp providing a little more support than the Thula Thula, yet remaining supple, with absolutely amazing ground feel and agility. The overall construction of the boot provides excellent ankle support on sidehills, without any feeling of restriction. Once again, I've found that the minimalist/Munson design is not only very comfortable, but offers agility, balance and confidence that I have never felt in a hunting or hiking boot.

My wife eagerly awaits a pair of minimalist Thula Thulas, and this week I plan to order a hot weather variant, so that they arrive in time for the our high desert Summer. To be clear, my wife and I are actually quite thrifty, driving used cars and balking at unnecessary expenses such as restaurants and Starbucks. We choose invest our resources carefully, and Russell minimalist boots have proven to be a worthy investment. I simply don't want to wear anything else on my feet any longer.

Thanks to Russell Minimalist boots, I can hunt hard, and really enjoy it, again! Thank you”

Barry Dworak of Boise, Idaho

And here is another customer letter from Patrick Bissell of Vernon Hills, IL, discussing his decision to no longer wear orthotics in his shoes.

Hey Russell Management,

I was just reading your latest newsletter and saw your great article on orthotics.

I’ve had two pairs of your fine boots since the mind 1980’s and can’t be more pleased. The story line here is that in the mid 80s I was wearing prescription orthotics in my shoes and I asked you to make me a pair of boots. You responded by telling the moccasin story and suggesting that I try the boots made for my foot and not worry about orthotics.

At that time you told me that if I wasn’t satisfied you would redo the boots.  I received the South 40 Birdshooters and wore them for an entire season without any problems. As a matter of fact I stopped using the orthotics in my regular shoes.  Since then I have acquired  a pair of High Country Hunters, again, that fit my foot and not orthotics and have not had a bit of trouble.

Here we are approximately 25 to 30 years later. I have not bought an orthotic for my shoes since I started wearing my South 40 Birdshooters. Feet feel great. Thanks for your advice and your wise advice to orthotics wearers now.”

Patrick Bissell, Illinois

New Laramie Suede Boots and Shoes

In our last newsletter in late December we told you about our new Russell Kangaroo Classics boots and shoes. They were well accepted during the winter show season. Customers liked the idea of kangaroo being 20% lighter... but 50% stronger than cowhide.

Now we want to expose you to another new line of Laramie Suede boots and shoes. Inspired by Russell Moccasin customer, Jeff Wemmer, little more than a year ago to make a shorter “PH” style boot, (5.5” high rather than the normal 7” height), and to make it in a combination of Laramie Suede, canvas and kangaroo. Jeff, who lives in West Texas where it is always hot, (even in the winter), told us Laramie Suede was ideally suited for hot weather because “It breaths like a screen door.”

We listened to his suggestion and began making the Laramie Suede 5.5 “PH”. It too was well received during the 2012 hunter’s shows. New for 2013 are two new models made in Laramie Suede.

NEW Laramie Suede Safari “PH”, 7 inches tall made with lightweight, breathable canvas uppers and gussets, fitted with a quiet but durable Vibram Newporter sole with a low rise 1/4” heel lift.

NEW Laramie Suede Art Carter Traveling Shoe, moccasun contruction,  breathable canvas uppers, kangaroo gusset, cushion collar top, back pull loop, bouncy and quiet plantation crepe rubber sole.

New Vibram 360 Force Sole

Every once in a while Vibram treats Russell to an exciting new sole offering. A couple years ago they introduced the Vibram Newporter, which has become a customer favorite. New for 2013 is the super long lasting Vibram 360 Force Sole. We are very excited about this sole.

• It’s made with Vibram’s Fire & Ice compound which is very sticky, soft and quiet, even tho it has a more aggressive pattern. 

• It features a 3/8” lug pattern. The sole can be installed as a flat sole or with a 1/4” heel wedge, available in tan only

• It has a defined edge which helps stabilize you on hillsides or in rocky conditions.

• Super long wearing compound proven by the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The new 360 Force Sole will provide a tough, grippy, quiet and long wearing platform for bird hunting boots, hiking, North American big game hunting as well as safari hunting. (Given the 360’s more agreesive lug pattern, it will not be quite as quiet as the Newporter).

The new Vibram 360 Force Sole is shown here on a pair of
double vamp
1745-CB Kangaroo Oneida Moccasins.

Field Report from PH, Peter Thormahlen

Professional Hunter, Peter Thormahlen, Thormahlen & Cochran Safaris, guides hunters throughout much of Africa including South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Cameroon, has been a Russell customer for a number of years.   Peter is not a small man by any measure, easily standing 6’5” and tipping in at about 240 lbs.   He hunts hard and long for his clients.   In 2010 he ordered a pair of all WeatherTuff leather Russell Safari “PH” boots equipped with a toe cap and heavy duty Vibram Sierra soles( one of Vibram’s toughest, longest wearing soles)  He brought them back to us at the Dallas Safari Club show in January 2013.  While Peter had taken excellent care of his them up and polishing them...his extreme hunting and three years of intense use, the soles were worn smooth and needed to be replaced.  Peter then ordered two new pairs just so he would never be without his Russell Safari “PH” boots.

Peter’s Report:

“I bought these boots at SCI Reno 2010. We calculated that I walked at least 3,500 km in them as I guide at least 10-12 safaris a year and have worn these boots for the past  3 years.

“Here is the amazing issue to me.  I wore them on at least 12 elephant safaris in Botswana of which around six were in the Okavango Delta. So the boots were in the water every day, walking from island to island. They stayed wet for 14 days not getting time to properly dry before the next morning’s hunt.  And I wore them on three safaris in the Cameroon savannah for Lord Derby eland where it is extremely hot, and dry.   Here we walked between 12-23 km per day on 14 day safaris.   And I wore them in the Cameroon Rain Forest on two different hunts where everything stays wet and damp till you get out of the forest.   I wore them in South Africa on safaris, and I wore them in our Desert Concessions in Namibia.   Amazing boots that could take so much water, heat, and dry temperatures and they stayed in tact.  Remarkable boots!”

Peter Thormahlen

This is how Peter “takes care of his boots"...
wading in water, then going to his next hunt in the desert!
It takes a special boot to stand up to this kind of abuse.

Next stop... the rain forest of Cameroon for more water torture!!!

Pro Staff Report from Jim Miller, host of Tex-Mex Outdoors

“I have been wearing Russell Turkey Hunter snake boots for the past 7 years.  I actually live in these boots for eight (8) months out of the year!  These snake boots have turned  many different types of cactus spines and thorns from my legs a potentially dangerous snake bite in 2006 while quail hunting in Mexico.  I can truly say, I trust my life with my Russell Moccasin snake boots.  These boots have protected me from snakes, scorpians, spiders, thorns, cactus and any other object that will bite, stick or scratch you.  Thank you for protecting me over the years of hunting and building the greatest boot on the market... and in the world!”

“Here’s a photo of the Rio Grande Gobbler I took a couple weeks ago. My Russell Turkey Hunter ‘Snake Boots’ once again served me well as I was walking through the Tasajillo Cactus (a particularly nasty kind of cactus).  I had to use a Leatherman tool to pull the cactus out of my boots!  Thanks to my Russell ‘Snake Boots’ I was unharmed.”

"In 1989 I bought a pair of your Turkey Hunter boots.  This last Sunday I took a respectable 18# jake and a few friends inquired about the boots in the pictures I took.  Honestly, I had to search a bit to find the original receipt... and then realized these great moccasin boots are 24 years old!  Can it be??? Back then I thought they were expensive ($189), but with a little care I suspect they'll last another 24 years!!  Just wanted to share.  Who knows... the person who made these may still be working there!!!"
Thomas Volkema of Holland, Michigan

Famous Visitor to the Russell Moccasin Booth

Every year at the various safari and hunting shows a number of famous folks stop by to see us...Presidents George Bush, Sr. and George Bush, Jr., Tom Selleck, TV personalities and others.  Another famous visitor stopped by the Russell Moccasin booth at Safari Club International in Reno in 2013.  None other than Governor Mike Huckabee, shown here being measured for a pair of Russell’s by Russell President, Ralph Fabricius.

During the measuring process, Governor Huckabee requested a good fit and related to Ralph that he loves Wisconsin cheese curds... so Ralph sent five pounds of our native Wisconsin cheese curds to the Governor!

Give us your feedback. Did you find this newsletter to be useful? What other subjects would you like to see discussed in the future? Let us know!

Thank you for your time and consideration.


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