Brightly wrapped packages — Dreams and hopes within

OUTDOORS WITH DR. JOHN WOODS

At age 61 now, I still marvel at the beauty of a fully decorated Christmas tree. Real trees being best since they can be recycled into fish habitat rather than an attic for fake ones, or a landfill for dead ones, though being ground into flower bed mulch is a pretty good option, too.

The colored lights, bouncing rays off shiny glass ornaments, keepsake hangers offering family memory flashbacks and that hint of evergreen fragrance that haunts me back to western elk hunts all impact the senses to the max. It’s the Christmas Season, definitely my favorite time of year. That and we get to double up on that roasted turkey and dressing.

Santa is Getting Nervous

About this time every year I start getting calls from friend’s wives, colleagues, and many unknown to me random folks looking for Christmas gift suggestions for their outdoors people. Traffic for e-mails picks up big time, too. Of course, for me that is a no-brainer, because I live in the world of outdoor products all year long. I attend several outdoor trade shows every year including nearly every Jackson gun show, get endless press releases announcing new products, and read numerous hunting, fishing, and shooting trade journals to keep up with the marketplace. I also haunt all the local gear outlets nearly every weekend.

Maybe I should start adding little “look here” sticky tabs on the pages showing items I am interested in and place the magazine on my wife’s work desk at home. Trouble for me is my wife thinks I am the original “guy who has everything,” so why should I need anything else. See, ladies, it isn’t about the need, instead it’s all about the want. In fact, isn’t Christmas all about the want? For sure every hunter and angler needs something, but probably has lots of wants.

Getting with the Ho-Ho-Ho Program

So, you can never start Christmas shopping too early and right now is the best time to dive into the trenches. National economy wise it has been a tough year for retailers big and small. The big boxes can’t help but buy strong and stock shelves heavy. The smaller, savvier retailers have had to buy much more cautiously so they tend to stock the best of the best sellers for them. All that said to say that shoppers ought to find plenty to pick from. Even Black Friday didn’t deplete the stocks on hand that I surveyed.

But, just in case you are experiencing any kind of shopper brain freeze, here are just a few of my personal “best picks” for the outdoors enthusiasts to wrap in bright red and green foil packages for hiding under the tree:

Hunters:

>> Primos Trigger Stick. This is a “primo” shooting stick that can be had in a mono-pod, bipod, or tripod configurations with a trigger adjustable height changing feature. Set your gun in the “Y” yoke and your shot is steady.

>> Southern Tech Shooting House. Produced in Mississippi, these are the best self contained shooting houses made. They are dry, warm, and offer great 360-degree visibility.

>> Muck Boots. Rubber bottoms and soft neoprene type uppers these boots are easy on and off, extremely comfortable and offer terrific grip in muddy conditions. I buy one size bigger so I can wear heavy wool socks in the winter.

>> Taxidermist Gift Certificate. Few things bring a smile and create confidence like a paid game mount to be used in the future. Maybe right after Christmas.

>> Browning Socks. Number one for stocking (no pun) stuffers. Hunters never have enough high quality socks and Browning is it. Just don’t buy white ones.

>> Carhart T-shirt. These are heavy duty, hard wearing, and sized a bit big for movement. They come in hunter orange or other outdoor fashion colors.

Anglers:

>> Columbia Fishing Shirt. Lightweight, stylish, sun protective and comfortable wearing. Get a couple different colors and styles.

>> Electric Filet Knife. Self explanatory, but get one of the good ones.

>> Gulp Fishing Baits. These are among the hottest fishing baits on the market right now. Every angler should have a tub of these or two.

>> Protective Rod Covers. These come in neoprene, nylon or other fabrics and slip over the entire rod and reel to protect from dust, dirt, water, and knocking around. As expensive as good rods and reels are, these are a must.

>> New Spool of Line. Always the ideal fall back for the fishermen. Get them a spool of the latest, hottest, new-fangled line on the market. Buy the hat, too.

Outdoor Enthusiasts and Travelers

>> Leupold Katmai Binoculars. Every outdoor person needs a set of high quality binoculars. There are so many uses for binoculars and so many times when a set comes in so handy. Katmai models are lightweight, easy to grip and handle, focus easily and have great viewing resolution. They are the perfect size for travel.

>> Maxpedition Slinger Bag. This manufacturer makes extremely heavy duty carry bags for the military, law enforcement, first responders, and the general public. I have two of these and can personally recommend them as the best there is. Multiple pockets and hidden places can stow a lot of stuff.

>> Gum Creek Vehicle Handgun Mount. Google this. It is a neat product that allows the vehicle user to mount this strap rig under the steering column holding most common holsters placing a handgun into quick ready reach.

Christmas time for the outdoors person need not be so complicated. Rummage through their gear and see what they already have and like. Just buy something similar. It sure beats another coffee pot, weed whacker, flashing Christmas tie with jingle, or cuff links. Hunters, anglers, and outdoorers are really pretty easy to buy for. And the smile your thoughtful gift brings is likely to last all year.

Merry Christmas.

John J. Woods, Ph.D., is vice president in charge of economic development and training, Eagle Ridge Conference and Training Center, the Workforce Development Center and contract training services at Hinds Community College in Raymond.

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