During late November, a handful of buddies joined for a waterfowling outing, and during a lull in the action the subject of new outdoor gear and possible Christmas presents arose. For some reason, I became the brunt of some severe verbal abuse (I shrugged it off as envy). One fellow mentioned, then all agreed that since I already own one, if not two, of most every piece of hunting and fishing gear, it must be a real pain to shop for me.
While it’s true that I have amassed a fair inventory of outdoor gear over the last half-century, there are still some needs, and a lot of wants. Equipment does break or wear out, and some sharp thinker is always coming up with a new or better product. I never seem to have a problem coming up with several ideas for my holiday wish list. That’s right, just like my childhood letters to Santa, I make a list! How are family and friends supposed to get the right shell caliber or gauge, the correct lure color or line size or the best type of decoy or call if you don’t help with a bit of guidance?
Some important cast and blast items are renewable resources used every year and must be replaced before the next season. Hunters and target shooters go through a bunch of shells, sneak or peek at near empty boxes and buy a replacement supply. Bass casters lose lures and go through bags of plastic baits and hooks. Fly fishermen also lose flies or fish chew them up, and all anglers need spools of leader material or new monofilament.
One of the top ideas on my list is a true necessity each and every new year — an annual combination hunting and fishing license! Since Jan. 1 begins the new ice fishing season, it’s a must. There are even lifetime licenses and extras such as archery, muzzleloading, bear, and waterfowl for the all-around sportsman. While you’re at city hall or the town office, you could register a boat and trailer, or an ATV for Dad or your brother. A lot of these things may be purchased online so you never have to leave the house.
Winter nights drag on long and cold, and hobbies such as tying flies or reloading shells can only take up so much time. Like most outdoorsmen, if I’m not able to participate in a favorite sport, I at least enjoy reading about it. An annual subscription to one of the popular outdoor magazines always makes a fine gift, and it lasts all year. There seem to be books and DVDs on every conceivable hobby or pastime, so these also make fine presents.
If your family sportsman enjoys a good suspense novel, I’ve got a great series to help pass many an evening. Author C.J. Box created Joe Pickett, a Colorado game warden, who somehow gets involved in murder mysteries each book along with his regular duties. Over a dozen books are available, each better than the last. I’m hooked and even non-sportsmen won’t be able to put them down.
L.L. Bean offers a neoprene, camouflage 2 by 3 foot roll-up mat that I carry everywhere in my truck. It’s meant to place on the ground when changing into or out of wading boots, but I’ve found many other uses. Use it as a vehicle dog bed, a seat protector if you get wet or muddy, a ground cloth for sitting along a wet river bank and many more uses. It’s just over $20 and very durable and light.
More and more hunters are turning to tree stands for deer, bear, and moose season and Muddy makes an 18-foot high, comfortable one-man ladder stand that’s perfect for all purposes. Light, durable and comfortable for sitting stationary all day, it goes up easily, attaches solidly and has arm rests, a collapsible foot rest and a shooting rail for safety as well as a solid aiming rest. The Odyssey ladder stand costs about $200, a bargain for the quality and years of use. Check local sporting goods stores or Muddy.com on line.
For long hours of setting in a tree stand, ground blind, waterfowl blind or just on a stump or log waiting for game, a comfortable seat pad makes time pass faster and more comfortably. I use a Hunt Comfort camo, padded cushion, and in the last year at least half a dozen of my friends have tried mine and then purchased one for themselves. With special foam and gel inserts, waterproof cover and extendable carrying strap, they are like sitting on a cloud. Check Cabela’s or Hunt Comfort web sites for a Fat Boy lite, Champion or Scout cushion for ice fishing, hunting or the hard bleachers at the ball game, it’s a gift that keeps on giving — comfort!
Regardless of what sporting activity a person enjoys; sea kayaking, angling, camping, rock climbing, or just hiking and wildlife watching, sooner or later there are photos to be taken. Digital cameras are the perfect gift for outdoorsmen, but many are too large to carry on an outing or the smaller versions just are not up to the wet, cold environment and rough conditions. Nikon’s Coolpix AW 110, 120 and 130 models solve all these problems in one tough, compact unit. Shockproof, freeze proof, and not just waterproof, but submersible to over 100-feet, these cameras are a sportsman’s dream.
Available in high-viz colors, the compacts aren’t much larger or heavier than a bar of soap, but feature 16 MP clarity, 5X Nikkor glass zoom lens, 1080P full HD video and Wi-Fi + NFC connectivity. There’s even a chest harness for hands-free photos and videos of sports requiring both hands. Prices run between $200 to $300 depending on model, and there’s even before-Christmas free shipping right now online at NikonUSA.com.
For gift givers who still can’t make a choice, there’s the old tried and true gift certificate to a local outdoor store or one of the big fish and hunt chains, and of course “green,” as in cash, goes with everything. Hope this helps shoppers with special sportsmen on their Christmas lists. Here’s hoping Santa finds your chimney. Happy holidays to one and all.