In the last entry, I mentioned one of my hikes. I was at Great Seal State Park near Chillicothe, Ohio, so named because the mountains (ok, they’re really hills) appear on the Great Seal of the State of Ohio.
During the hike, on two separate occasions, I startled a deer. In each case I was about 30-50 feet of the deer. They never heard me coming. I really wasn’t paying that much attention, so the first I saw (or really heard) them was when they snorted in panic and took off, though one of them went about 20 feet, stopped and watched me a bit, and then took off again.
This happens to me regularly. Bare feet are just so much quieter than shoes. Part of that, no doubt, is that when you are barefoot you have to pay a bit more attention to the placement of your feet on the trail surface. When wearing hiking boots, you can just clodhop along, oblivious to what is going on below your waist. And it shows.
The other part is that your feet are made of, how do I put this?, more eco-friendly materials. They are not rigid and hard; they do not assault the earth. They mold themselves around it, and thereby stay much more silent.
Bare feet are even more quiet on gravel. One time I was on a guided hike at Clear Creek Metro Park, and the initial part of the trail took us a long a gravel road for a bit. Everybody else, in their boots, were crunch, crunch, crunching along, making a big racket. Barefoot, from me one could hear an occasional sound as one of the stones shifted a bit under my weight.
Go barefoot! Minimize noise pollution!