Time once again for the All Outdoors sportsman’s Christmas wish list. To make things easier for the shopper, keep in mind that there is nothing an outdoorsman needs that requires camping out, standing in long lines, Black Fridays or any other commercial gimmickry. Also, no woodsman will expect you to break the bank on his behalf: a sturdy pair of insulated gloves, a bundle of (real) wool socks or a fresh set of insulated underwear will make any winter hunter, fisherman or snowmobiler very happy.
The list of appreciables available for under $50 is practically endless. Start with hunting and fishing licenses, favorite magazine subscription renewals, a TV channel update (The Outdoor Channel?), a couple of packages of chemical handwarmers, a new wool, flannel or fleece shirt or jacket . . . if it’s dark colored, warm and water-resistant you’re sure to please your sport this Christmas.
It’s best to avoid cheap novelty items, anything with ears, antlers or eyes that light up, anything sold in bins or department store end caps, and don’t let yourself be fooled into buying an item just because it’s camo-colored, orange or red. Face it, if you buy junk it will end up in a closet somewhere and never be used.
If in doubt, opt for a gift card from your sport’s favorite store. Let him decide what he wants and let him buy it when he’s in the mood. Everyone comes away happy when it comes to gift cards; easy for the shopper, convenient for the recipient.
We’re all being buried with catalogs this season, which can be a handy solution for shoppers who really don’t know what to get a serious Maine sportsman. Simply hand him a pile of catalogs and let him circle the items he’d be most interested in seeing under the tree. Tell him to select gifts in a wide range of prices so you can decide which ones fall into your financial limits.
For the most part, gifts under $100 fall into the clothing range, and in fact some items, just as winter jackets, coveralls, boots and such, may cost substantially more than that. For example, my “dream boot” is a pair of Russell Bird Shooters which, in some catalogs these days, are selling for $500 a pair! Great boots, exceptional workmanship and materials but, hey, I’m too New England to spend that kind of money on footwear! Now, if some generous Christmas elf wants to front me the money I’d be more than happy to put in an order. Some other hunters are lucky that way!
Boots are definitely expensive but other gear, such as ice-fishing equipment, is nearly as pricey. Not so long ago winter fishermen used a couple of crossed sticks and a coat hanger to make their tip-ups, but now a good-quality unit will set you back about $50 – or more! Considering that Maine fishermen are allowed to use up to five “traps,” that’s $250 – and that doesn’t include line, terminal tackle, bait, sleds, bait buckets, scoops and skimmers, augers . . . and they say golf is an expensive hobby!
Upwards of $100 the list of possibilities includes snowshoes (or new bindings), snowmobile helmets, super-duty riding gloves, ammunition for next hunting season, a new knife, a compass or GPS unit. Most of this stuff is best left up to the sportsmen to select, which brings us back to gift cards. Every catalog store out there offers gift cards or certificates that any sportsman would love to find under the tree.
The list of “wow” gifts (costing hundreds, even thousands of dollars) is just as long and varied. A new snowmobile or 4-wheeler? A boat, canoe or kayak? New deer rifles and shotguns can set you back $1,000 or more. Handguns are a tad less expensive depending upon the make and model, but if you want to spend more there are certainly plenty of options. Again, you’re delving into the realm of personal choice here, and for that kind of money you’re best advised to let the sport make his own decision. All you have to do is write the holiday check!
If you’re sport is old, has everything he needs and then some, it may be a good idea to forget the under-the-tree options and simply send him on the hunting or fishing trip of his dreams. Plan to cough up an amount equal to the price of a used car for this one, especially if his dream hunt involves exotic game, long airplane flights and 10 days or more in Alaska, Canada, Africa or similar faraway places. For example, I’ve always wanted to go mountain goat hunting in Alaska but the cost for such an adventure would be close to $20,000 in most cases.
Another, more affordable option would be to sign your sport up for a deer, bear, moose or waterfowl hunt right here in Maine. A week “up north” in pursuit of deer or bear shouldn’t cost more than $2,500, but expect a moose hunt to cost even more than that. Guided bird, small game and waterfowl hunts can be substantially cheaper, in some cases just the cost of room and board. I’ve been to camps that charged just $30 per day for a cabin. I provided my own food and just listened to the camp owner’s advice on where to start looking for birds and small game. Deer and bear guides may charge $100 or more per day for their services in addition to camp fees and meals, and moose hunts can be quite a bit more expensive when recovery and meat processing fees are factored in.
The bottom line is that there are plenty of holiday gift options for sportsmen no matter how much or little you have to spend. When in doubt ask what your sport wants or needs, and don’t think that you must come up with the most fabulous gift of all. A gift card or cash will be much appreciated far more than a singing bass on a plaque!