The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

December 14, 2013

Some gift ideas for sportsmen

By Chris Ellis
For The Register-Herald

— Unlike some of the retail giants that started playing Christmas music right after Halloween and officially skipped Thanksgiving for holiday shopping purposes, I’ve decided to let the spirit of the holiday season be shared at a more appropriate time.  

I know the pains of finding the sportsman on your list the perfect gift. It’s challenging, indeed; especially since most of us are still on the naughty list as we have been in the woods more than home lately. Not to mention, the side effects of turning our homes into full-blown hunting lodges during mud season can be seen by others in the house as a strain, to say the least. I apologize on behalf of us sportsmen for the mud-covered trucks, muddy driveways, muddy boots, muddy camouflage clothing-strewn foyers and constant complaining about the weather and lack of acorns. But hunting season will be over in a month or so and all the mud will be washed neatly away.

To ease the pain, perhaps a little insider’s knowledge and assistance purchasing the perfect gifts will be the right medicine to kick off the holiday season. Simply choose one of the following gifts and you’ll have your loved ones chanting your name as the greatest gift giver of all times. Don’t worry, it will be our little secret.

It is with great pleasure that I present to you my annual Sportsman’s Holiday Gift Guide.

--- A turkey vest. If the people on your lists have had a little trouble finding a deer this season, take their minds off it by leading them down the road to spring and, of course, gobbler season. Your optimism will be appreciated and, trust me, you cannot own enough turkey vests (Warning: A new turkey vest can cause the early arrival of hoot owl calls and raspy hen yelps from the basement).

--- The gift of organization: plastic storage containers. If your sportsmen tend to be a little messy or perhaps feels too rushed during the prime hunting season to pick up after themselves properly, give them a gentle nudge. Buy three plastic storage boxes and a permanent marker. Write deer hunting on one, cold weather gear on one and turkey hunting on the last one. The cool thing is the boxes stack neatly in the basement or shed. They will appreciate you every time they ask if you have seen their Mossy Oak facemask and you count to 10 and remind them to look in the box marked TURKEY hunting. The gift of organization keeps on giving the whole year long.

--- Gong-style target. If accuracy seemed to be a little bit of an issue this deer season for someone on your list, give them a gentle hint of accuracy. A self-sealing target allows for tons of use, and most handle all calibers. When they come home next year bragging about the “shot of a lifetime” they made with ease, you can smile knowing your gift paid off nicely in the form of fresh venison.

--- Heavy-duty floor mats. You don’t really want to know what’s on the floor board of their hunting rig, do you? I suggest purchasing floor mats with a high perimeter ridge that collects an entire hunting season worth of spills and debris. A water hose and a couple of minutes of spraying them off will cure all kinds of ills. All parties involved will be impressed the next time they hitch a ride in the rig and don’t have to step in the best the backwoods has to offer.

--- Handwarmer muff. You will have to trust me on this one. After spending 15 days in Alaska this November hunting for coastal brown bears, I came to depend on a muff to keep my hands from falling off. I admit they are kind of dorky, but wow do they work. If they didn’t, you wouldn’t see so many NFL quarterbacks wearing them on chilly, frozen Sunday afternoons. If you have a person on your list who hunts in the cold weather, they, too, will come to depend on warm hands and will thank you for such a thoughtful gift.

Any of these gifts will knock the socks off the sportsman on your list and will be much appreciated the next time they head afield in search of nature’s bounty. Happy holidays!