Well, by the time you read this, another first day of deer season will have come and gone here in the Keystone State. Here’s hoping that you had a good one, or that, at least, it wasn’t too miserable.
Although I have always been of the opinion that your chances of getting a buck are rather slim after the first couple of days, there are always some taken late in the season. Also, there are still a couple of days of doe hunting to which we can look forward. Flintlock season is just around the corner, too. After a fair number of years, I plan to do that this year, provided that the weather is not too miserable.
At the forefront this week, let’s take a look at some possible Christmas gifts for the outdoor people on your list. Although these types of columns might be a bit on the corny side, and all outdoor writers do them, this is still, in fact, one of my favorite columns of the whole year, so here goes. Of course, we can’t cover all of the possibilities, or even most of them. Hopefully, however, these ideas will be useful, or at least serve as a springboard for ideas of your own. We’ll try to focus on gifts in a variety of price ranges.
A good, rugged outdoor watch makes a wonderful and useful gift. The fact of the matter is that hunting in the rain, as well as fishing, is just too much for a really cheap watch. A good one may cost fifty bucks or more, but it’s worth it. Make sure the one you choose is water-resistant to at least 50 feet. While, true, it will probably never be down that far, this rating shows that it’s really sealed well. I’ve had one of these for several years. It’s been submerged countless times, had gasoline and other chemicals spilled on it, and been abused just about every way possible, yet it still runs just fine.
Vise-Grip adjustable locking pliers make a great gift. Around this time of year, you can buy gift sets featuring various sizes and styles. These are amazingly sturdy and versatile. When out in a boat, they’re about the only tool you really need. You can replace a cotter pin, use them to remove the nut to replace a shear pin, tighten a loose fuel fitting and a variety of other little jobs. They’re also great if the cylinder on your propane lantern is too tight, or for changing the gas tank on your outdoor grill. There’s just no end to their uses. You can even use them to pinch on split shot sinkers. Vise-Grip also markets a multi-tool which features pliers plus a number of other handy tools all in one.
Fishing-oriented gifts are available to fit almost any budget. Rod and reel combos are what usually come to mind first, but the price tag for good ones is often a bit intimidating. Many lure companies, such as Mepps, market gift packs of lures, usually geared toward a certain type of fishing, such as trout, panfish, etc.
Jewelry with an outdoor theme to it can make a truly unique gift. For women, I have seen a lot of earrings and necklaces in the shape of various animals and birds, while for men, cuff links and tie tacks are perennial favorites.
A lot of hunters are pretty big on collecting knives, so there we have yet another gift idea. There is, however, an old superstition about giving a knife as a gift. You’re supposed to make the recipient of the gift knife give you a penny, or, in effect, buy the knife from you. Depending on which legend you listen to, a variety of unpleasant things can happen if you give a knife to someone for free. In fact, some knives come with a penny in the package to deal with this custom.
Books make great gifts, too. Most outdoor folks thoroughly enjoy reading about their favorite pastimes. How-to books, “Me and Joe” nostalgia works and humorous books are all available at reasonable prices. Pat McManus’ hilarious books are guaranteed to make any outdoors man or woman chuckle. High on my list of outdoor books is the “North With Doc” series, by Greg Knowles. Chances are, you would find that you know or knew someone like the characters in these books. Magazine subscriptions rank right up there, too. It’s really great, on a cold winter day, to go to the mailbox and discover one of your favorite magazines.
Don’t forget animals on your Christmas list. Animal shelters, especially no-kill ones, operate on a shoestring budget, and could certainly use some holiday help.
Well, I hope you find some of these ideas to be useful. It seems impossible that Christmas is so close, but it is.