The Stories Leather Can Tell

8902620f-80b4-4e4c-92f7-10c7dd2088cd Story and photos by Nancy Anisfield

“Something stops you throwing old gloves away... I picked a new pair up at the store this year, but they’re not the same as the old one’s. I’ve got to be patient and give them time to develop their own character.”   
                                                                                             Glenn Jeffrey,  seasoned bird hunter


The lines and creases of worn gloves reach into the heart and soul of hunting. Dark, burnished pressure points and muted crimson stains tell tales of bird dogs straining with excitement, of bloodied game taken with skill. So too, the dog leash worn soft with age speaks of tradition, a puppy learning its job or an aging veteran still rallying at the sight of the gun.

Leather is empathic. It absorbs and shares the sensory experiences of a hunt.... The scuffed thumb mark sings of hundreds of rubs pushing a shotgun safety forward and back. Chaps frayed at the cuff describe years of snagging raspberry thorns. And boots! They are the encyclopedias of adventures in the field from the day you slipped in the brook but shot your first quail double to the time you thought your setter was tracking a bird but it turned out to be an armadillo. Miles walked in those boots behind those wonderful bird dogs, the taste of the evening’s grill already on your mind.


One set of instructions on how to refurbish and treat leather boots says that attempting to seal the leather with heavy waterproofing products or too much wax defeats the purpose because, like skin, leather needs to breathe.


Spin the metaphor, and caring properly for your hunting leathers not only prolongs their life but acknowledges that they do indeed, have a life.