Despite the fact I’m still mainlining antacids in a so far futile attempt to mollify the aftereffects of Thanksgiving dinner, this is opening weekend of the Christmas shopping season, which, I’m told, is a spectacle far more mind-boggling than opening weekend of deer season.
If that’s the case, there are going to be herds of people whose only personal outdoor experience is taking the trash out to the curb prowling the jungles of real and virtual shelf-filled stores in search of the “perfect gift” for the men and women on their lists who think it’s possible to, albeit temporarily and imperfectly, resurrect the era of the hunter/gatherer in the 21st century.
The choices available to shoppers looking for gifts for female outdoorsmen have exploded in recent years. For example, some especially observant outdoor clothing designer noticed men and women are not shaped alike. “I’ve got an idea,” he – or more likely she – said, “Let’s create clothing lines cut to fit women.” And thus was an entire industry awakened to the fact that on a per capita basis, more women than any other demographic group are becoming hunters.
Unfortunately, some companies went overboard. Outdoor clothing, knives, bows, firearms and just about anything else you could name was marketed in pink or, worse yet, pink camouflage. Now I don’t doubt that somewhere there’s a woman who loves the way she looks in pink camouflage, but, believe me, most female hunters and shooters hate pink. They want to look like other hunters, because they are like other hunters.
I’ve long been amazed by the fact that otherwise thoughtful people who engage in other hobbies can’t seem to understand why so many fishermen and hunters are obviously straining to act pleased on Christmas morning. Would they expect an avid golfer to be thrilled by a sleeve of ping pong balls? They are, after all, about the same size.
I know it can seem more like an order form than a gift suggestion, but if an outdoorsman puts something on his or her list that has to be specific, the suggestion should be just as specific. If I write “bullets for my muzzleloader” on my Christmas list, I deserve whatever I get. On the other hand, “.50 Powerbelt 295 grain hollow points” puts potential gift givers on the right trail.
If you’re a gift-giver who doesn’t like merely filling orders, a little detective work will reveal gift ideas that are sure to please. For example, no hunter or shooter ever has enough ammunition. It’s almost always safe to assume that more of exactly the same rifle, shotgun or handgun ammo he or she has on hand now will be appreciated.
If you’re reasonably knowledgeable about firearms, search your potential recipient’s gun racks for unusual calibers. The years-long ammunition shortage is finally easing, and most common calibers aren’t difficult to find. That’s not the case with less popular rounds. If a gun rack contains a firearm that the owner’s ammunition locker doesn’t have ammo for, all you have to do is find a box or two of it to be crowned the season’s No. 1 Santa Claus.
Hooks, weights and other terminal tackle items can be sure-to-please yet inexpensive gifts for any fisherman. Check out the recipient’s tackle boxes and buy more of what he or she already has. Believe me, terminal tackle’s natural attrition rate will put your gift front and center quicker than any nonfisherman would imagine.
All fishing lures were designed to catch fishermen. If they also catch fish, it’s a happy coincidence. That said, the opinions of individual anglers regarding which lures “work” and which ones don’t are varied and strongly held. Sticking with what your angler is already using is the safest bet. If you’re feeling adventurous, buy the same lure in a different color.
All rules have exceptions, of course. Several Christmas’s ago, my mother put a miniature lipless crankbait in my stocking. It was a high-quality bait, but I doubted I’d ever get it wet.
A couple of months later, when I was getting my pond-fishing tackle ready the following spring, fate decreed that I’d find an open space and the little crankbait at the same time.
Then one day I was fishing one of my favorite and most reliable ponds, and absolutely nothing would draw a strike. Finally, I tied on the crankbait just to see how far I could cast it. Over the next hour, I caught enough bass, bluegill and crappie for several meals and released at least that many more.
Gerald Scott can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.