December 15, 2013

Hunting: All I want for Christmas is ...

By Bob Humphrey

It’s that time of year when mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, and significant others and friends are looking for the right gift for their favorite sportsman or woman. The list of possibilities is nearly unlimited, but perhaps this year you want something above average, a gift that is practical and will be well appreciated. Here are a few suggestions.

A knife is always a safe gift because no hunter can ever have enough. But we all have a favorite or two or three, and the rest are often relegated to a storage bin until one of the front-runners gets dull. Most hunters lack the acumen to put a good edge on their knife so they move on to a new one or take theirs to a professional. There is an alternative.

I used to sharpen my knives on a whetstone, then graduated to a hand-sharpening kit with multiple stones and an angle gauge – both with mixed results. Recently I found a device that takes all the guesswork and potential error out of the equation.

As its name implies, the Work Sharp Knife & Tool Sharpener will work on just about any tool that needs a sharp edge, from a delicate caping knife to a lawnmower blade. Simply plug it in, set the angle gauge and guide the blade along the abrasive belt. It even includes instructions on how long, how fast and how many times to run each type of blade through.

Cold feet can make the difference between a good long day afield and a short miserable one. The quick, simple answer is a pair of wool or synthetic socks that will wick moisture away and keep your hunter’s feet a little warmer. But even they won’t work when the mercury plummets and you have to sit for an extended period of time in a treestand or on the ice. There is a better option.

Unlike air-activated foot warmers, ThermaCELL heated insoles work off rechargeable lithium ion batteries so you can use them over and over. With their wireless remote you can switch between high, medium and no heat, and extend battery life.

Hunters like to capture their memories afield but most probably already own at least one digital camera, which makes a couple SD cards a nice stocking stuffer. But you want to go the extra mile this year.

More and more amateur sportsmen are recording their adventures in video. Thanks to GoPro you can now record HD-quality digital video with a camera that fits in the palm of your hand and costs less than binoculars.

A GoPro camera is about the size of a D-cell battery, and will record both audio and HD video. With accessories you can mount it to almost anything from a treestand shooting rail to a gun, bow, mountain bike, snowmobile, ATV or yourself. With a free GoPRO app you can operate the camera from your smartphone, and with free software you can edit your clips into your own productions.

The hunter on your list may have a freezer full of organic protein. You could stuff a few seasonings in his stocking to spice things up a bit, but to get really creative, how about learning the fine art of smoking.

The Camp Chef Smoke Vault operates off propane. You can adjust the burner temperature from 150 to 500 degrees to smoke, bake or cook. There’s a tray to add wood chips or pellets for flavoring and a water pan to keep things moist. Five slots all for shelf height adjustment and there’s a finer mesh seafood jerky rack. You may want your friend to open this early so he or she can help prepare Christmas dinner.

The list goes on but you get the idea. Think outside the box when it comes to selecting a gift for your favorite outdoors person. Pick something he or she will long use and appreciate, and might benefit you as well.

Bob Humphrey is a freelance writer and registered Maine Guide who lives in Pownal. He can be contacted at:

bhunt@maine.rr.com

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