Mainely Outdoors: Holiday gifts for the sportsman who has everything

Each holiday season I pen a column with gift ideas for that outdoorsman on your list who’s a bit difficult to buy for. I speak from personal experience. My dear beleaguered wife insists I own one of everything, two of the really good stuff, and if an item is new or improved I run right out and purchase it rather than waiting for my birthday or Christmas. There might be a grain of truth in that theory, but there are still some toys for big boys and girls that make great presents under the tree or in a stocking.


One of the greatest additions to a hunter’s gear list in the last 25 years has to be the trail camera, and each year there seem to be more features and improvements. The Bushnell Impulse Cellular trail camera offers a 24/7 connection regardless of where you are. When a game photo is taken, your phone, tablet or computer receives a copy and pertinent info within seconds. It will work with any cell phone service provider and no contract is necessary. Bushnell will even provide exceptionally reasonable rates by the month and help with connections and set up online or via phone.

If I can set one up, anybody can. When I’m at home, at work, or sitting on one tree stand for deer, bear or moose, I can see what’s happening on my other sites. I have a waterfowl friend who set a pair up on two favorite ponds to keep track of duck and goose visits. Features include one-second image recovery, remote turn-on or shutdown for live viewing, photos or video, active GPS, weather data image tags and an anti-theft mode. When hunting season is over, this unit can be deployed for security at home, camp or business.

Check your local rod and gun shop or sporting goods store for this great Impulse camera or go online to the Bushnell website if it’s not available nearby. The camera retails for $299, but I’ve seen it on special for as little as $229, and if it’s a last-minute purchase the company will offer free overnight shipping. Even non-hunting game watchers will get a lot of fun and enjoyment from this indoor/outdoor camera.

I also purchased a bear-proof protective metal case from CamLock Box that’s built especially to fit the Bushnell Impulse and attaches simply to a tree, post or metal stand. With locking cable attached, your expensive trail camera is protected from four-legged and two-legged predators. Sturdy, yet lightweight, camo painted and easily accessible, there’s a cambox unit especially made to fit dozens of makes and models of game cameras. My protective box was $30. Check them out online and guard you outdoor gear.

There are lots of moderately priced gifts that work well as stocking stuffers and under the tree for a favorite outdoorsman. (Courtesy of Bill Graves)

Each year more and more anglers are learning about and exploring the fairly new and exciting endeavor of casting and trolling open water lakes and rivers for big, burly muskie. Hooking, playing and landing one of these huge, toothy denizens is a challenge and lifelong memory, but most regional sportsmen don’t own equipment suitable for the task. Here are some options I’ve investigated that will make perfect gifts.

Check out the Abu GarciaVeritas, 7’9” graphite rod with titanium guides. It’s for casting or trolling lures from 5/8 to 3 ounces and uses 12-to-40-pound test line.  Pick up a spool or two of Berkley X5, 40-pound braided line and some 9-12 mesh Sebile Stick Shad or Magic Swimmer plugs and your muskellunge rig is complete. As soon as spring arrives it’s just a matter of rigging up, and then hang on for the thrill of a lifetime.

I’ve always been a proponent of taking a camera along on every outdoor venture. Memories are great but pictures are proof. Most sportsmen won’t lug a cumbersome, expensive SLR camera. The cold, wet environments often aren’t good for them, Many folks settle for a cell phone to take photos. GoPro’s new Black version Hero 8 offers photos and video with sound and full anti-shake stabilization in a camera smaller than a pack of playing cards.

This amazing camera can fit in a shirt pocket and is impervious to dirt, snow and cold, and can even be used underwater.  There are dozens attachments for boats, bicycles, head and chest bands, dogs, guns, fishing rods, snowmobiles, surf and snow boards and many more so each owner can relive and save any sporting event in which they participate. There are combo packs available with extra attachments on special for the holidays and include free shipping, all for around $300.

If your special sportsman has been a really good boy or girl this year and deserves an extra-special gift, the new Benelli SBE III shotgun or the Raven Crossbow outfit under the tree will make you the best Santa ever.  For more cost-conscious gifts and stocking stuffers the options are vast. The upcoming new year means every cast and blast enthusiasts needs a new license. Annual renewable resources include rifle, handgun and shotgun shells, a few replacement flies or lures, hand and foot warmers, batteries for headlamps, flashlights, GPS units, trail cameras and handheld radios.

If the sportsman you’re seeking a gift for is into murder mysteries, check out the Joe Picket series by C.J. Box.  Joe Picket is a game warden who gets into all kinds of exciting situations above and beyond his normal duties and it makes for great entertainment. There are also lots of “how to” books on all types of hunting and fishing, as well as many related hobbies. These all help pass a few long, cold evenings and direct the mind toward next season rather than the snow and cold outside.

Other literary options include subscriptions to any of several outdoor monthly magazines or even books on favorite sporting endeavors.  As a last resort, there’s always a gift certificate to a local or regional sporting goods outlet so the recipient can select any item he needs, and they always know what’s missing from their personal inventory.  

Merry Christmas, and here’s hoping the reindeer find your rooftop. 

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