Looking for that special gift?
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at our house.
We put the tree up the day after Thanksgiving and hung the stockings by the chimney with great care. Even the pets have their own stockings, hanging with the family’s, ready to be filled with treats.
The outside of our house is looking pretty cheerful too. No matter what you choose — natural greenery, a nativity scene, technicolor lights, or one of those fancy inflatable decorations — seeing houses all lit up in anticipation of Christmas is exciting for little ones and even for the big ones, too.
Usually I’m done with the Christmas shopping by the time Black Friday rolls around, but not this year. Life just seems to get busier and busier and I waited until just last week to start shopping for gifts. The UPS delivery guy is probably going to get tired of seeing our address on packages. I’m not quite done yet, and by the looks of the parking lots at the local shopping centers, I’m not alone.
It always is a strange feeling to open up the paper and see my face and name where my father’s column used to be. He was quite a clever guy, and you probably didn’t realize this, but he would frequently include secret messages in his columns that only his wife or daughters or Aunt Joan could decipher.
But when he’d suggest Christmas gifts, it was not a secret that those were the actual things he was hoping to find under the tree on Christmas morning. He always advised gift-buyers to forgo buying a rod or reel or gun for someone as a gift because it’s hard to know exactly what people want when it comes to something so personal (and expensive, too).
He would say a gift certificate to one of the big retailers like Bass Pro Shops or Cabela’s would be a better choice, so they can pick out exactly what they want. But when Abu Garcia came out with their newest Revo model back in July, however, I knew that would’ve been tops on my father’s list of most-wanted items.
He never bought fancy sneakers or wasted money on frivolous stuff. He would rather save his pennies for something that really mattered — the very best fishing equipment. So if your husband or wife is a serious bass angler, one of those low-profile baitcast reels is something I can guarantee won’t be returned or exchanged. The top model has a hefty price tag of about $500, but there are other less expensive options that cost under half that.
If you want to get a gift for someone who is new to fishing or doesn’t get a chance to get on the water much, there are some ver y reasonably priced rod and reel combos that will get the job done. Shakespeare is a brand you can find in just about every tackle shop and big box store. These spinning rods or baitcasters range in price
from $40 to $80 and come in species specific set-ups for catfish, crappie, stripers and walleye.
You can put a gift under the tree this year that has the potential to save a life. Personal flotation devices have come a long way the past few years. They aren’t just for people who own boats, but anyone who might venture out on a guided trip or rent a boat to do some fishing in any of our local waters.
It makes sense to get something comfortable if you want a person to wear it, and there are lots of options. The Cabela’s Guidewear 3500 Auto PFD is lightweight and allows a wide range of motion. It has a higher freeboard like a Type II PFD and fits ages 16 and up with a pricetag of $120.
Another gift that could save a life is the ACR
ResQLink Personal Locator Beacon. While it doesn’t have the capability to send a one-way “I’m okay” message like the Spot Gen 3 or provide two-way communication like the DeLorme In-Reach, this PLB is a necessity for any extreme adventurer.
It utilizes government satellites to send an SOS signal and location with just a flip of the antenna and push of a button. There’s no service to subscribe to and no middleman to relay the distress signal to authorities. It works over every inch of the globe and is buoyant. For about $250, you can have peace of mind knowing your loved one can get rescued from a truly life-threatening emergency situation.
Outdoor enthusiasts of every kind are sure to appreciate a bag that will keep their gear dry.
The Sea to Summit Stopper Dry Bag available
at Cabela’s or on Amazon ranges in size from 5 to 65 liters.
The smaller bags are ideal for kayakers and jet-skiiers who need a safe spot to stow their cell phones and wallets. Fishpond makes the Westwater Roll Top Dry Bag that retails for about $50. This one comes has compartments you can customize for your gear so you can keep your lunch separate from your tackle and comes with a clear plastic window so you can see the contents of the bag easily.
Something I like to put under the tree for my husband every year are some new targets. Reactive splatter targets are not very expensive and let the shooter see exactly where they hit, without having to walk over to the target to check. Those ground targets that spin and bounce come in all sorts of shapes and colors can go for hundreds of
rounds. They put on a pretty good show when they’re hit just right. And zombies are more popular than ever these days, even life-sized mannequin zombies that ooze blood when they are hit.
Anyone who enjoys skeet shooting would get a kick out of the Champion Workhorse Electronic Trap, which holds 50 clay pigeons and can throw them out 75 yards in three directions every 2.5 seconds. It’s easily portable and compact enough to fit in most vehicles with a cost of about $250 to $300 at most stores and online.
Ammo makes a great gift. Every shooter tends to have a favorite weapon or two. And if you know which one that is, you can confidently buy the right kind. But we all know how expensive certain calibers can be.
However, over the years, I have found that even my friends who are
all about their latest .458 SOCOM or .454 Casull or whatever big time weapon they might be into at the moment, actually still have lots of fun plinking with .22s. I honestly don’t know a single person who doesn’t love a brick of .22 rounds. They can be darn cheap and give you a lot of bang for your buck.
One of our friend’s son is quite an outdoorsman. When he isn’t hunting, he’s fishing. And when he isn’t fishing, he’s hunting. You get the picture. Well, a great gift for someone like him is Yeti cooler.
We’ve all owned coolers with leaky drains or cracked or warped lids. Never again with a Yeti cooler. They are virtually indestructible and built to last, a cooler for a serious outdoor enthusiast. I recommend one of the Yeti Hoppers (with a price range of $300 to $400) for the hunter who likes to spend an entire Saturday in a tree stand or for a fisherman who wants to just stow and go. The hard-sided tundra (starts at $300 and up) is certified bear-proof by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee.
One last item of note is a gift that would be extra-special for locals.
Richard Menard, an artist who lives in Hollywood, won the Mar yland Duck Stamp Contest this year and his artwork is sold exclusively at Cecil’s Country Store (301-9949622) in Great Mills. Framed prints of the winning entr y “Brothers” start at $85.
And for a stocking stuffer, a Migratory Game Bird Stamp isn’t just for hunters.
For $9, you can purchase a little piece of Southern Maryland histor y and proceeds go toward waterfowl conservation, something anyone who loves the natural world can appreciate.