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With five days still to go before Christmas, what’s to panic about, right? It’s an old joke that most men start their holiday shopping Dec. 24, a full day before Christmas. What’s the rush?
Actually, there are more procrastinators out there than just the stereotypical last-minute male. Last week I offered up a list of great sportsman’s gifts that anyone could buy with some planning and forethought, but suppose you are fresh out of prudence and need to get something quick – right now?
It’s a good thing you picked up the Rolling Thunder and decided to read this week’s column, because I have the answers you need on this one. Sportsmen are easy to please (all they want is time and a place to sit in the woods), so even the smallest gift will be greatly appreciated.
Probably the easiest thing you can do (other than buy him next year’s hunting and fishing licenses, which I covered last week) is update his stable of magazine subscriptions. Even if you did this last year, you can always add a year’s renewal or even three – most magazines will gladly take your money no matter what the occasion!
If you’re not sure which magazines he prefers, you can’t go wrong with a Maine Sportsman and the Maine Fish and Wildlife magazine. The former is the “bible” of Maine outdoor news, politics and adventure, and can be picked up on any newsstand. If you like, log onto the magazine’s Website ( and go through the process.
The same holds true for the MFW magazine, which is published more or less quarterly by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. This is more like a department newsletter than a magazine, but it keeps readers abreast of what the department is doing regarding fisheries, wildlife and related management programs. Between the two of these your sport will know more than enough about what’s going on in Augusta and elsewhere, and these days you can’t be too informed.
Other good ideas for your sport would be magazines covering the New England sporting scene, and at least one of the “big three” (Outdoor Life, Field and Stream or Sports Afield). Actually, Sports Afield isn’t quite sure who its target audience is these days (it went from hunting-fishing to kayaking and mountaineering to – lately – the posh side of the outdoor sports), but it’s still a good-looking publication with stories that would be of interest to any sportsman. The variety of deer-hunting magazines and traveling sportsman magazines are endless, so you shouldn’t have any problem finding enough to satisfy your holiday hunter. Swing on down to the nearest book store or newsstand and see what’s out there. Just pull out the subscription card (every magazine has one or 10 of these!) and get the ball rolling. It might take several weeks for your subscription to kick in, but once it does your sport will enjoy it year-round.
If nothing else, consider stuffing your sports stocking with useful small items he might not even think of on his own. I’d recommend chemical hand warmers, gloves, wool socks, batteries (AA or AAA are always useful), fast food certificates (for those early morning coffee and biscuit runs prior a hunting or fishing trip), a gift certificate to the local sporting goods store, a bunch of those cheap, cotton gloves (about $1 a pair), gum or hard candies for those long hours on the deer stand or in the ice-fishing get the idea. Most sportsmen would be happy to receive a big stocking full of the little things that matter most, so don’t think you have to spend the inheritance to make him happy. I’ve seen guys nearly swoon over a deck of cards with deer on them, so it’s not like you have to be real creative – just pick stuff that is truly useful and that you know he’ll use and enjoy in the woods or in camp. For example, I used to love to get bags of Slim Jims, the small ones that fit in your pocket. I’d stash some of them in my tackle box, some in my deer-hunting pack and some in my bird-hunting vest and just forget about them till next year. It was always a treat to find a handful of these meaty little snacks when I was miles into the woods and just about to starve to death after a long day of hunting or fishing. There have been times when I would have traded ALL my Christmas gifts for one pack of Slim Jims, so keep that in mind as you last-minute shop.
I’ll let you in on a secret – my most useful tool year-round is one of those little throw-away cameras you can buy for $4 or so. Get the one with flash (and tell your sport to ALWAYS use flash, indoors or out). Get several of these little cameras so he can take on-the-spot photos no matter where he goes. I have a camera in every pack I use, and I keep one in every coat or vest I wear, too. It’s great to just reach into a convenient pocket and come up with a camera when you need one – I have some nice shots of game and fish that might not otherwise have been taken if I’d had to run back to the truck or camp and find my “big” camera. And don’t worry, these little throw-away cameras take great pictures. I have had magazines use some for cover photos and even two-page inside spreads. The secret is to ALWAYS use flash (always worth repeating!) and stand about five feet from your subject. Too close and the shot will be blurry, and if you’re too far away (more than 12 feet) you may as well just draw the picture because you won’t be able to see who’s in the shot or what they’re doing.
Look for good, serviceable, useful stuff and go hog wild. You can please the most discriminating sportsman with $20 worth of really good gear, so don’t be afraid. If it looks like something he could use, buy it, wrap it and watch his eyes glow.
I’m sure by now the wheels are turning, so be your creative self and show your sport what Christmas is all about. Just don’t be surprised if he ends up doing the same for you!
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