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Time once again for the annual All Outdoors gift-giving guide for folks who don’t know what to put under the tree for that special outdoorsman on the list. Forget the socks, ties and cheese samplers, let’s think long and hard about this and come up with something the avid sportsman would really enjoy unwrapping this Christmas.
Topping the list of useful and inexpensive is next year’s Maine hunting and/or fishing license. A resident combination licenses is just $42, which translates to about 12 cents a day for year-round hunting and fishing privileges. What a deal! I don’t think there’s anything else you can buy that would be more cost effective – and every Maine hunter and fishermen must be licensed. You can purchase licenses (everything from basic fishing to lifetime hunting and fishing licenses) online at www.mefishwildlife.com.
One of the most important items I used during this past hunting season was a padded, packable seat, ideal for sitting on stumps, rocks and logs or even in wet leaves. These come in all varieties from $5 hip-pocket pads to gigantic Fat Boy seats costing $50 or more. Even hunters who spend their time in metal tree stands will enjoy the benefits of a dry seat.
Another great, inexpensive item hunters will find useful is a camouflage-pattern umbrella that attaches to a tree and keeps the hunter and his gear dry all day no matter how hard it rains. These umbrellas ($15 or so) also work as windbreaks and blinds for ground hunters.
One of the most appreciated items in my backpack this year was a package of hand warmers, the little “shake ‘em up” kind that produces heat for about 10 hours. You can buy 20 of them for under $7, which is a wicked good deal and should last an avid hunter all season.
If you want to spend more on your sport, the list of options is endless. From new boots, pants, wool shirts, coats gloves and hats ($100 or less), the list can include a new rifle or shotgun (several hundred dollars) or, my favorite, a free hunting trip out West or to Canada, Alaska or some other exotic, place (up to $20,000 for a brown bear hunt on Kodiak Island). A guided deer hunt for one of Maine’s legendary trophy bucks can cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000 or more.
You can also book day trips for rabbits, waterfowl, upland birds or even coyotes for about what it costs to take the family out to dinner at a high-end restaurant (the kind where you sit down and they serve you!).
The next big thing in hunting will be the spring turkey season. Most hunters will need new calls ($20 and up), clothes ($50 or so per item), a nifty turkey-hunting vest ($75 and up), a shotgun ($400 and up), waterproof boots ($120 or so) and “accessories” such as a face mask ($10), camouflage gloves ($10) and a decoy or two ($20 each).
If you can’t decide what you want to purchase but you have a dollar amount in mind, just hand your sport a gift card with the admonition that he spend it on himself for “hunting stuff.” He won’t be disappointed!
Winter fishing season is fast (well, not so fast) approaching – we should have had enough ice for pickerel fishing by now but open water prevails over most of the state. Odds are winter will return, which means ice-fishing will be on the weekend agenda. Gift ideas for winter fishermen run the gamut from a 2012 fishing license ($25), a power auger ($200 and up), five shiny new traps ($10 each) and a combination sled-bait bucket-seat unit ($50). Useful clothing for ice-fishing can include boots ($100 and up), coveralls ($75 and more), hats and gloves ($25 and up) and more of those chemical hand warmers.
For the fair weather angler, a catalog gift card toward the purchase of lures, flies, rods, reels, line, vests, nets and other paraphernalia would be the better choice so the holiday fisherman can pick and choose his own stuff.
Fishing is a lot like golf – you can spend a little or a lot of money on it, depending on how serious your angler is. For example, a good fly rod can cost $500 or more, while a “really good” rod might set you back $2,000 or more. A small handful of trout flies might cost well over $100, while the average bass lure goes for $6 and up. Most dedicated bass fishermen have at least one three-tiered tackle box ($200) packed to the gills with a variety of crankbaits, plugs, rubber worms and grubs as well as hooks, leaders, line, sinkers and all sorts of gear and gadgets designed to fool fish. There’s no telling what any angler might want or need, so a gift card is the way to go.
For those with a real jones for giving, consider a new kayak or canoe ($600 and up) or a fabulous new bass boat ($12,000 and more). The up side is that you don’t have to wrap such elaborate gifts or even put them under the tree!
More realistically, what angler wouldn’t appreciate a weekend fishing trip, all expenses paid? The average fishing trip (including meals, gas and lodging) will run about $200 per day – more if a guide is involved. Check with the Maine Professional Guides Association (www.maineguides.org) for a list of guides or lodges. There are plenty of options available from full-service guided operations to bring-your-own food and do-it-yourself camps. Ask your fisherman which he prefers and make it happen.
For most adult hunters and fishermen the most precious gift is time. You can’t buy or sell time, but you can give it! Pick a week or a weekend next year that you can give your sport free and clear, with no obligations, and wish him well as he heads out the door in pursuit of his favorite fish or game. A no-hurry, no-guilt hunting or fishing trip is priceless. All you have to do is smile and say, “Yes!”
Now, that is what I’d call a Merry Christmas!
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