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Now that the hunting season is over it’s time to turn our attention to other things, such as what to get your intrepid outdoorsman for Christmas. Immediately cross hats, ties, scarves and electric gloves off the list – few hunters or fishermen will ever use those things. Instead, stop for a moment to consider what’s sensible, practical and useful – which all but eliminates 99 percent of what folks receive at Christmas, anyway!
Sportsmen are a curious bunch, fond of stuff that works and intolerant of fluff. Rather than guess and buy something a sportsman might want, take the high road and give him a gift card to the local sporting goods store or one of the better known online outlets. This way you let him buy what he wants and he can thank you for providing the funds that helped him get it. Also, it’s guaranteed that he will like, want and use what he gets, as opposed to tossing it into a back drawer somewhere and never seeing it again.
Gift cards can be as little as $5 or as much as you care to spend and they are always appreciated. What other gift comes with the option to make your own choices? When in doubt, go with the gift card.
Next easiest on the list is a 2013 hunting, fishing or trapping license. This can be taken care of online at as long as you know all of the sports’ vital information. Otherwise, just log on and see what license options are available and gift him with the funds to cover it. Check with your sport to see which licenses and permits he will use over the coming year, or just go with the basic hunting and fishing combination license ($42) and let him decide what else he may need as the various seasons and permit periods come up during the year.
For stocking stuffers, you can’t go wrong with wool blend socks ($8 for three pairs at most outlet stores, up to $20 a pair if you want to get fancier), hand warmers ($6 a package of 10 at most department stores), or small packs of instant coffee, soup, tea or hot chocolate for in-the-field breaks. Four or five packs (at $3 each) will last a season.
Of course, there’s not a hunter or fisherman alive who wouldn’t love to be sent on an all-expense-paid trip to Alaska, Canada, Texas or wherever the big ones are. This, of course, is a multi-thousand-dollar investment and should be discussed thoroughly before you plunk down $1,000 or more as a deposit for such a trip. Do not make the mistake of sending your sport on a “surprise” trip of this nature because he may not respond quite as enthusiastically as you had expected. Talk it over, ask him where he’d want to go and then let him make all the arrangements. You just bankroll the endeavor – all in the holiday spirit, of course! Keep in mind that such a trip will likely require new clothes, a new gun or fishing rod, extra equipment you never thought of and air fares you may choke on! I travel quite a bit and even going as cheaply as possible and staying with friends it ends up costing close to $100 a day in gas and other expenses. A recent four-day trip to New Jersey (!!) for deer cost over $1,000 because of tolls, meals and gas. There were no hotel or air charges involved, either. You’ll definitely be a Christmas angel if you decide to foot the bill for a week-long hunting or fishing trip!
If your sport is one of those who already has two of everything, likes to do his hunting and fishing near home and has no need for more socks, flannel shirts or hand warmers, there are still options out there that are unique, unusual and just pricey enough to rank as fabulous outdoorsman’s Christmas gifts.
Browsing through some recent Christmas catalogs, I found a number of things I could never justify buying for myself but would certainly appreciate if someone else wanted to spend that kind of money. For example, I found a super nice hand-made Damascus folding knife for a mere $1,500. In the same catalog a hand-made pewter trout toilet flusher handle was offered at $55. A pewter woodcock or grouse wine bottle stopper can be had for just $98.
A nice cherry salad bowl and tongs set (three pieces) can be ordered (gift wrapping extra) for just $249. A perennial on my life-long list of things I will probably never buy is a set of four loop-optic brandy glasses – just $50 each!
I also found a nice, solid oak gun cleaning box (cleaning gear not included) for $495. If you like wood products, you can also buy an antique river log curio box (made from lost river logs that have lain under water for over 100 years) for just $695. Too steep? You can also buy a set of pens made from the same wood for just $225.
For the practical guy, you can buy a genuine bison leather smart-phone holster for just $79 or a bison leather wallet for $89. You can personalize these little gifts for just $10 more.
Lest your sport be late getting out of the woods, you can consider a nifty Luminox Swiss field watch (the dial lights up!) for just $495.
I mentioned wool socks as a good idea, but if you want to go top shelf you can purchase a three-pack of Merino wool socks for $50 – each, that is!
From what I learned this hunting season, most hunters would be very happy receiving gift cards from local coffee shops, restaurants, gas stations and fast-food joints. Hunting and fishing always involves coming and going early and late in the day, plus a quick lunch at the nearest place that serves breakfast or hamburgers and sandwiches. Armed with a fistful of gift cards, any sport can pursue his game or fish of choice and not have to worry about making (and forgetting) a lunch while he’s rushing out the door at 5 a.m.
By the way, leave your sport a few hints about what you want for Christmas, too. It’s been a busy hunting season and gift shopping has been the last thing on his mind!
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