Scott: Hunting for right Christmas present

December 13, 2013

State websites soothe shopping blues

Hunting for the outdoorsman or woman in your family can be quite a task, making the Christmas gift buying season a hair-pulling experience.

Many shoppers — including most of the members of my own family — insist most of the blame lies with the recipients, because they’re too particular.

While I’ll go to my grave arguing that outdoorsmen cannot be too particular, necessity often does require a certain degree of specificity. For example, when asked for stocking stuffer suggestions, I might say I could use some Mepps one-sixteenth-ounce inline spinnerbaits with silver blades and white feathers tied on a single hook. On Christmas morning, I discover that Santa has substituted one-half-ounce red and white Daredevil spoons armed with substantial treble hooks. Daredevil spoons were catching fish years before I was born, and if by some miracle, I ever make it back to Ontario, I’ll use them to absolutely slaughter the northern pike with them. Meanwhile, the conservation agent down at Bennett Spring is going to be less than impressed when he finds me using them during the winter catch-and-release trout season.

I could fill this entire publication with frustration-creating examples, but, hopefully, you get the point. If not, Mr. or Ms. Indoor person, imagine you’ve asked for a sweater. Wouldn’t you want it to fit your wants and needs in size, color and design?

Fortunately, there’s a way out of this dilemma, and, believe it or not, it’s being provided by the government. Or to be more precise, two state agencies — The Missouri Department of Conservation and the Department of Natural Resources’ Missouri State Parks division — have online stores filled with goodies just waiting to find lodging beneath Christmas trees.

Books are a featured item on I’ve included “The Fishes of Missouri,” “Birds in Missouri,” “Trees of Missouri” and “Missouri’s Wild Mushrooms” in my personal library, and I highly recommend them to anyone looking for a state-specific, full-sized reference work on any of these subjects. Other titles in this series that are still on my wish list include “Cooking Wild in Missouri” and “Missouri Wildflowers.”

Fields guides, which are easier to carry afield, covering subjects including shrubs, trees, outdoor opportunities close to the state’s three major cities and the justifiably famous “Paddlers Guide to Missouri” can also be found at the Nature Shop. So can some interesting DVDs and CDs.

“Conservation Atlas” is a must-buy from This spiral bound volume contains maps of all 114 Missouri counties and has all properties owned or managed by the MDC highlighted. While the atlas would be even more valuable if the MDC could have included public properties controlled by other state and federal agencies, anyone who enjoys any outdoor activity needs one of these.

It’s also possible to purchase permits good for the 2014 fishing and small-game hunting seasons on the website. Permits are a sure-to-please gift that will keep giving all year.

The state parks store website,, is a far more typical gift shop. To cite only a few examples, if you’re looking for medallions, lapel pins, magnets, caps, belt buckles, tin cups or bread warmers, this is the place.

Students of Missouri history will want to write “one of each” on their Christmas lists under the heading “books found at the state park store.” Topics include the Civil War — Missouri ranks third behind Virginia and Tennessee in the number of battles fought on its soil — The Lewis and Clark Expedition and presettlement Indian tribes. “Trails of Missouri State Parks,” which is a guide to far more than just the trails within the state park system, can also be found here.

In my opinion — I lay no claim to being an expert in this area — the prices at both online stores are reasonable. Sales tax and shipping will be added, of course. On the other hand, the profits will stay in Missouri, where they’ll be put to use making our outdoors even more accessible.