December 2, 2012

Mark Latti: Outdoor gifts spread holiday cheer

"Boy, is it that time again?" muses Sam Malone, "Wow, Christmas comes earlier every year, doesn't it?"

"I think if you check, Sam, it always comes on the 25th of December," says Woody Boyd.

And thus opens one of my favorite holiday specials, the "Thanksgiving Orphans" episode of "Cheers," now immortalized on Netflix in Season 5 of the sitcom.

So while the calendar may only say Dec. 2, the Christmas shopping season is in full gear. Not convinced? On Thanksgiving night, I drove through Freeport a few minutes before midnight, and it was summerlike with crowds on the sidewalks, jaywalkers tempting traffic, a road race set to begin and a train whistle shrieking the Downeaster's arrival with a load of shoppers.

And to think I used to feel guilty about wanting to go hunting on Thanksgiving Day.

So while you may have missed those super deals reserved for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, take heart, you still have three weeks left to shop for that someone special, or better yet, tactfully drop several hints that this is the year you want that new GPS, or reel, or rod, or ... well, you get the picture.

This cold weather has ponds skimming over with ice, and Jiffy's Mille Lacs Ice Chisel is an ideal tool to open up those first holes of the season. It even has a loop on the handle so you won't lose it when it slips out of your chilled hands.

If you want to stay out of the cold, Eskimo, Clam and Shappell all make pop-up ice shelters. To help take the chill out of the house, ask for a Little Buddy or Coleman BlackCat portable propane heater.

Once the ice thickens, you will want to use Jiffy Pro 4 Propane Augur. Just attach a 1-pound propane cylinder and you can drill dozens of holes in no time. You can even use it inside your ice shack.

Need something to take the chill out of fishing or hunting? How about a propane-fueled drip coffee maker by Coleman. Ten cups of hot coffee in under 18 minutes.

If you need something more substantial to warm you up, the Jetboil line of propane cook stoves can have water boiling in just minutes. These stoves are ideal for duck blinds, ice shacks or a day out hunting away from camp.

Of course, for those cold winter nights when all you want to do is read in front of the wood stove, I would suggest these books from Maine authors.

"Suddenly The Cider Didn't Taste So Good" by John Ford, an entertaining and enlightening look at the life of a game warden.

"Tales From Misery Ridge" by Paul Fournier, gives a detailed glimpse of life in the outdoors of Maine from a man who was a guide, bush pilot, camp owner and writer/photographer at Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

"Bad Little Falls," Paul Doiron's third book in the Mike Bowditch Mystery series. But first read his prior books, "The Poacher's Son" and "Trespasser."

Not enough time for a book? How about a subscription to On The Water, The Maine Sportsman or The Northwoods Sporting Journal?

And don't forget to stuff your stockings. ThermaCELL bug repellers (extremely effective), SmartWool socks (no itch!), orienteering compass (essential), hand warmers and headlamps are nice to give but even better to receive.

And, of course, if someone has been gracious enough to allow you to enjoy their land, add them to your holiday list. 

Mark Latti is a Registered Maine Guide, and the Landowner Relations/Recreational Access Coordinator for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

 

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