The latest cell phone, electronic game, jewelry and clothing have been opened and are useful and appreciated, others may sit unused in a corner until the next garage sale.
But let’s set those aside for now and remember some memories of first outdoor gifts we received from our parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends, or gave to our children, grandchildren, spouses and others that have stood the test of time.
For the hunter or fisher in the family, a special opportunity is offered to reward, recognize and encourage with traditional gifts that last a lifetime, but most important is to give of ourselves and follow up that gift with a shared experience or adventure.
For me, it was my first Zebco fishing reel and catching my first fish, a perch, with my dad. I also remember my first rifle, a Red Ryder BB gun with which I learned gun safety and developed shooting skills. A youth archery set was another way of developing skills that I’ve used as a hunting enthusiast. Then there are the memories of my first small tent in the backyard and my first campfire with marshmallows and s’mores roasting in the flames.
These gifts are still available and easy to find at your nearest sporting goods store and you may have given one of these to your youngest potential future outdoor partners and now it’s time to give the special gift of your time to properly instruct in their proper use.
The backyard and local ponds are the best places to develop that special relationship and build skills, perhaps even catching that first fish, building a campfire or becoming a marksman and building memories forever.
Each year these gifts can be built on with more advanced equipment and continued sharing of skills and experiences. It never ends and I still remember my firsts, but the thrill of giving or receiving new outdoor equipment and experiences is still exciting.
What has changed, however, is the fact that the experienced sportsman has become more selective and specialized in their equipment and things they like to do.
Perhaps now it’s fly fishing and hunting big game further afield. I used gift cards for these special people and the offer to take them shopping for those great after-Christmas sales. So, the time has come to do a little research and help them help select the appropriate gift; it’s a chance to spend time together sharing wishes and dreams.
Here are a few popular and useful gift card ideas:
■ Guns, bows, rangefinders, scopes and trail cameras all make great gifts, but there are many variations of each; get some help with these from a knowledgeable friend or better yet spend some quality time with the giver at a fine outdoor store like Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s (both now owned by Bass Pro’s Johnny Morris) or Big 5 and Sportsman’s Warehouse. Look through their catalogs or go online. Together you will both learn more about the sport and each other. Just remember to set some budget guidelines. I speak from experience here and I am still working on it.
■ Fishing equipment is the area where I rely more on gift cards as the options and choices involve much more imagination and individualism. It’s not about fish and sometimes not even fishing; it’s more perception and culture. As the old saying goes, “Most lures and flies are designed to catch fishermen, not fish.” Have fun and encourage the fisher to try something new.
■ Camping in most cases is a group sport so enjoy finding the right equipment together, but remembering quality matters.
■ After Christmas or New Year’s gifts are also excellent, unexpected and special. A license for that hunter or fisher in your life makes a thoughtful gift or perhaps a special hunting tag. These gifts are always a welcomed symbolic gift.
Then there is literature. You can add to your or a friend’s, sportsman’s library and to let someone know you appreciate their interests.
I would suggest any of the Peter Hathaway Capstick collection for those interested in the adventure of an African safari.
Anything by Ernest Hemingway, Robert Ruark, Theodore Roosevelt or Frederick Selous on hunting would also be well received. Chris Klineburger’s, “Game Masters of the World” is the ultimate firsthand account of early sheep hunting around the world and the evolution of sport hunting.
Bird hunters will enjoy books by Nash Buckingham and Havilah Babcock; my favorite is Jim Casada’s, “The Greatest Quail Hunting Book Ever.”
Fishing enthusiasts will enjoy “River Monsters” by Jeremy Wade, or any of Roderick Haig-Brown books while one of my favorite fly fishing authors is Mallory Burton, charmingly written from a lady’s perspective, but she gets it right and knows whereof she speaks.
All of these and many more can be found on Amazon, but my favorite sporting book dealer is Safari Press. Do yourself a favor and take a look at safaripress.com
Magazine subscriptions are another excellent and easy way to show you care. Sporting Classics and Sports Afield are two of the best.
Ultimately, the gift of a trip, adventure or experience will always be welcomed, especially if it is with a guide to a historic or exotic location. My favorites are fishing for tuna in San Diego, halibut in Alaska or salmon in B.C. Canada. Guatemala is your place to go for the best sailfish and marlin. Hunting big game in Colorado, New Mexico or Montana is readily available and all have high success rates. These are all on my wish list.
If I can be of any help with any of these ideas let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org
Enjoy the holiday and perhaps that first caught fish with this Sportsman’s Quest camp favorite.
Curried Rainbow Trout
1 tsp. Salt 2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. pepper 2 tbs. curry powder
4 tsp. turmeric fresh garlic to taste
Fillet fish, dampen and coat with a mixture of above. Fry in hot oil until lightly browned. Serve with wild or seasoned rice and a fresh salad.