Look­ing for that spe­cial gift?

Maryland Independent - - Sports - Jamie Drake jamiedrake­out­doors@outlook.com

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.

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