Get Ready for Hint-Droppin’ Time: Sportsman’s Christmas

Almost every year I send out an email to my family listing some of the items that I would like for Christmas. The reasoning behind this list is that ever since I have been occupying space on this planet for over six decades, I have accumulated such an assortment of “stuff” that people often wonder: What does he need or want? Hence the “list.”

Being a hunter first and a fisherman-camper-reader second (or last), my thoughts immediately turn to duck and deer hunting. I never have enough steel shells, especially 3-inch magnums in #2, #3 and #BB. Such a conglomeration will handle most of my waterfowling needs. During non-hunting days (Yikes), a DVD or two from those “Duck Commanders” (Duck Dynasty) raises a chuckle or three and provides some down-home entertainment.

Never in my life have I met a duck hunter who had enough calls. All are good; some are better than others. Duck Commander, Zink, and Rich-N-Tone are a few that come to mind. There are many others, any of which would brighten any sportsman’s eyes on Christmas morning.

A dear friend of mine recently began turning out custom calls of his own design that utilize not only acrylic, but also exotic wood—and he even turned one out of elk antler. I now own one of his calls turned out of Osage wood, but that one made out of antler surely would make a good birthday or Christmas gift (Hint, hint).

When it comes time to assemble and organize my deer hunting pack, one item that always seems to be missing is my grunt tube. How and where it goes every year is beyond me, but I always need a new one. The same goes for warm, waterproof gloves. This season, if you have a loved one who always has cold hands, contact one of the big catalog stores. Order the best camo gloves they have in the appropriate size. Believe me, it will be money well spent.

For years I suffered from cold feet in the treestand. Not any longer—I took wool clear out of the equation and went to the moisture-wicking socks. Now I can sit or walk, keep my feet dry and warm and enjoy deer hunting more.

In recent years several companies have pioneered scent reduction in their hunting clothing. Wearing them doesn’t make a gnarly old deer hunter smell any better, but they do help contain a hunter’s scent. It is not easy to fool a white-tailed deer, but scent-control clothing and masking products can up the odds for success.

While I am a multi-species angler, my two favorite targets are the wily smallmouth bass and the delicious walleye. If I had to pick two families of lures that would cover just about every aspect of fishing for these two species (and just about everything else), I’d vote for Rapala and Northland. On my personal list would be Husky Jerks, Rattlin’ Raps (one of my best smallie lures), Northland walleye glow jigs and Buck-Shot Rattle Spoons.

As an historical reenactor who frequently shoots black powder firearms, I always need percussion caps, lubed patches and Thompson Center Bore Cleaner and Bore Butter.

On those cold, frosty evenings when the hunting or fishing day is over, the game is cleaned and refrigerated and supper is eaten by many outdoorsmen. They then enjoy pouring a cup of coffee, retiring to the recliner and opening a good book. Anything written by the late Ed Zern is certain to produce a good chuckle and evoke a memory or two of days afield. For the walleye fisherman, I recommend author Mark Martin, whose books are advertised monthly in MidWest Outdoors. This veteran angler knows everything when it comes to finding, tempting and catching walleyes. My favorite book, bar none, is The Old Man And The Sea by the great Ernest Hemingway. For the pure enjoyment of literature this old classic is hard to beat.

Is your guy interested in history and the old days of the fur trade? If so, Give Your Heart to the Hawks: A Tribute to the Mountain Men by Win Blevins or a biography of Jim Bridger should provide many good nights of reading. Do you know a member of the Greatest Generation? War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk is the best novel of WWII that I have ever read.

What is a good winter without a bit of ice fishing? A unique present would be the gift of an ice fishing/vacation school, where both the novice and experienced angler can pick up tips, land some good fish and have a great time on the ice. Consider enrolling in Mark Martin’s Ice School, held several times annually in Michigan.

These are a few ideas that may make your Christmas shopping a bit easier. Remember that the greatest gift of all is time spent with your loved ones.