JANUARY IS DEAR SEASON, turkey season starts in March and April kicks off open season on the strappy sandal. Some women simply waltz into the store, pick out a pair of shoes and plunk down their money. But where’s the sport in that?

A couple of years ago a girlfriend introduced me to the age-old practice of shoe stalking. She took me to her favorite shoe store and the moment we walked in, we were offered glasses of champagne in crystal flutes. That was my first hint that the store was a bit too pricey for my burlap pocketbook. The second hint was when I overheard the clerks discussing the best place to get their Rolls Royces repaired.

“I can’t afford a footie in this store,” I whispered to my friend. True. It turned out the footies were made of mink.

“Don’t worry about cost,” she said. “Look around and find a pair you like.”

Her nonchalance about price was puzzling to me—since when had she become a dot.com heiress? But I wandered about and finally spotted my prey. A pair of ankle straps with three-aspirin heels… I mean, three-inch heels. I looked at the price and swooned. Those shoes were so expensive an Arabian sheik would need to sell half his harem to buy them,

 My friend noticed the puddle of drool at my feet. She said, “Do you want those shoes?”

“More than life itself.”

“Patience pays off,” she said cryptically.

She was right; my friend had been shopping in that store for years and knew their discount structure. She was also in cahoots with the clerks, who would tip her off the moment a shoe was marked down and then camouflage the shoes behind a potted plant if another stalker got too close.

With my friend’s help and numerous visits to the hunting grounds, those shoes were eventually mine. I remember opening the box, inhaling the divine smell of leather and thinking they were so gorgeous I wanted to create a Pinterest shrine in their honor.

But it didn’t matter what I thought. The real test would come at happy hour when I showed off my conquest to my girlfriends. What would their verdict be?

There are several levels of shoe judgment and every woman knows the various translations. If your girlfriend asks oh-so-casually, “New shoes?” that means you are wearing slime-covered gargogyles on your feet. It means your shoes are so hideous, they need to be burned, buried deep and covered in lime.

Alternatively if your girlfriend says, “Cute shoes” (only one syllable in cute) that means you purchased functional footwear but nothing special—the shoe equivalent of tofu.

The true test of a great pair of shoes is when you walk in the door of a bar or restaurant and for a moment everyone is stunned into silence. Then every female in the place simultaneously sings out, “Ke-yoooot shoes.”

(An even higher compliment is when one of the females snatches them off your feet and makes a run for it, but that’s very advanced and specialized shoe stalking and I don’t recommend it for beginners.)

In my case, my first “kill” received the ke-yoooot shoe chorus, converting me into a life-long shoe stalking enthusiast. So to my fellow shoe stalkers, I say, “Happy hunting season!”         

This spring Karin Gillespie is stalking an adorable pair of cut-out wedges, perfect for walking the tournament. Visit her at karingillespie.net

This article appears in the April 2016 issue of Augusta Magazine.