Christmas is drawing close and holiday shopping is in full swing. There still is plenty of time to buy gifts for that outdoorsman or outdoorswoman, and some gifts are obvious. Like a new firearm or fishing rod — hopefully purchased with plenty of input from the recipient. Or a new Gortex jacket or pair of hunting pants. If none of these is needed or feasible, what then? You buy them some “neat stuff.” There’s plenty from which to choose.
One of the top gifts this year is likely to be a trail camera. There are several brands and any can be placed along a well-used trail to see what’s moving there each night. You might be surprised to find that a whopper buck is one of the travelers, or coyotes or foxes or even a bobcat. Electronic gear is good, too, and with calling coyotes or foxes coming back strongly, an electronic caller makes a fine gift. You can get one at most sporting goods stores with a call already inside, a howler, rabbit squeal or distress call, and in some cases they can be downloaded with other calls from the Internet.
One good choice is a pair of shirt pocket-sized walkie-talkies. I received two of these several Christmases ago, and they’ve been useful. Like for calling up a partner in the squirrel woods to say, “Time to head back to the truck.” Or putting one man at the end of the Huron Pier and another at the blockhouse. “Are you catching some?” “Yeah. Come and join me.” Any of the larger area sporting goods stores should have them.
Books always are a good choice, and there are thousands from which to choose. Check Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com and you’ll find bass fishing books on literally any subject from fly fishing to working structure. Ditto for walleye, panfish, trout and more. Local book stores can order many of these and get them to you before Christmas. Don’t forget e-books, either. I have one myself, “Dick Martin’s Hunting and Trapping Tips.” It’s $2.99 from Barnes & Noble (Nookbooks) or Amazon (Kindle).
One of the best presents I ever gave to my outdoors-loving nephew was a gift bag of fishing gear. I walked around a department store fishing department and filled a bag with hooks, sinkers, splitshot, fishing line, floats, some crankbaits, even a few ice flies and a stringer. He got some nice sweaters, shirts and pants that Christmas morning, but he kept coming back to the bag — playing with its contents, arranging the lot in his tackle box, and making plans for spring.
Other neat stuff? A new knife usually is welcome: Maybe a razor-sharp Rapala fish cleaning knife or something to dress a deer with. It never hurts to buy him or her a compass for deer or turkey hunting in strange country. I had a wrist watch that had a compass mounted on the band and, until it died, I used it often. If I’m hunting new land, I check with a compass that the road is pointed north and south or whatever, then if I hunt to the east, I just head west to reach my pickup truck. No need to keep looking over my shoulder and worrying about getting lost.
A kit always is a good gift. Depending on the interest, area sporting goods stores and such places as Cabelas.com and LLBean.com offer fly tying kits, muzzleloader rifle kits, spinner building kits and more. One of the best presents I received some years ago was a kit to make a single shot muzzleloading pistol. I whiled away some long, winter hours working on that one.
There are flashlights, too, that don’t need batteries and will shine a nice beam every time. Some will give you an hour of use for one minute of winding, and others need only a little shaking to produce their lights. You might buy a wind-proof lighter for times when a fire is needed in a hurry. One that Cabela’s sells will produce a hot flame in 80 mph winds. Don’t forget multi-tools — those pocket-sized or belt sheath gadgets that combine everything from pliers to scissors and knife blades to can openers in a single tool.
And such neat stuff as knife and hook sharpeners, maybe a game processing kit, heated dog bowls, the list goes on and on. Plenty to buy and still time to buy it.