Holiday gift ideas for outdoors enthusiasts

Bill Graves, Special to The County
2 years ago

With a second COVID-19 Christmas fast approaching, selecting just the right gift for the outdoor-oriented man or woman on your list will be just the first hurdle, actually finding and buying it might even be more daunting.

Production levels are down, supply ships are backed up waiting to unload and sporting goods store shelves are almost barren of many hunting, fishing, camping and watersports gear. Nonetheless, I’ve some suggestions that will make for happy holidays if you locate and purchase them.

First and foremost, if there’s a target shooter or hunter in line for a present, ammunition under the tree will be a big hit. For months there has been a terrible sparsity of most rifle, shotgun and handgun cartridges and also an absence of components for hand loading your own shells, especially primers and gunpowder. Be prepared for sticker shock — prices have skyrocketed due to demand and low supply; shells have tripled in price so a box of 20 rifle cartridges can be well over $75. 

It’s unlikely there will be any significant change in availability or cost before next season, so buy when you can. One thing about Maine is that most country stores and corner markets cater to sportsmen and have a few boxes of a variety of rifle and shotgun ammo. Call and visit local spots and check larger companies online. Perhaps you will be fortunate and find the caliber or gauge needed and the shooter on your gift list will be very surprised and appreciative. 

If there happens to be a waterfowl or turkey hunter on your Christmas list, check out SX Decoys on your computer, in an outdoor catalog or at a nearby sporting goods store. After 50 years of duck and goose hunting I’m a bit of a connoisseur of realistic decoys and this brand is top rate. Their painted models are very good, but for unbelievable realism the full-bodied, fully flocked Canada goose, mallards and wild turkey are unsurpassed. If live birds land among the decoys set up on motion stakes, it’s difficult to tell the difference.

Goose decoys are available in three species and numerous poses, and both mallard and goose decoys have floaters for gunning over water or field models that mount on special motion stakes. These are all one-piece decoys with a special hand-carry strap in the tail to allow several to be carried at once, as well as a set of stands for frozen ground and a set of in-ground stakes. A durable carry and storage bag to protect flocking is included with each decoy. SX decoys will make a believer out of sportsmen and wild birds in a hurry.

No matter what outdoor sport a person enjoys, there’s a book about it to pass a few cold winter nights. (Courtesy of Bill Graves)

For the bass or muskie fisherman, there are some STORM plugs and poppers that make great reasonably priced stocking stuffers. There are many local, catalog and online outlets with a wide array of sizes and colors for several species of fresh and saltwater gamefish. The STORM Wiggle Wart and Hot ‘N Tot are sure bets for bass, and STORM ThinFish lures drive the perch and pickerel into a feeding frenzy.

For regional lakes and rivers holding toothy muskie, try the STORM Flatstick crankbaits in large sizes, 6 to 8 inches. This lure can be cast or trolled, has a bright UV finish offering flash in even murky water, three sets of treble hooks and a tough tooth-proof exterior. They are solid or jointed bodies and in several colors. The green tiger and chrome perch are proven favorites.

Other items in the moderate price range that everyone enjoys include various reading materials; a yearly magazine subscription or a book about a favorite pastime helps pass a few long winter nights. Gun Digest or Shooters Bible are annual big book publications that any hunter, shooter or reloader will enjoy. Camping, carving, canoeing, or skiing, skating and snowshoeing — whatever you’re into, there’s a book or magazine to learn how, improve your technique or just expand your horizon no matter what the hobby.

How about a duck or goose call? A half dozen dry flies, a couple of tandem streamers or lures or maybe some tapered leaders for an angler? With the new year at hand, a new hunting or fishing license will be needed and makes a great gift. A sturdy wooden canoe paddle, a trout net, a rechargeable headlamp, a multitool and belt case, or a Maine made Snow and Nealley belt ax will all be appreciated Christmas Day and many, many days in the future.

My patient, beleaguered wife laments each birthday, anniversary and Christmas that I already own one of every outdoor product. Thanks to new and improved gear, however, she manages to find gifts. Here’s hoping someone in your family is as patient and persistent. 

Happy holidays, one and all.