WOODS ‘N’ WATER: Big Mike’s gift suggestions for the outdoorsman, 2017 edition

WOODS ‘N’ WATER: Big Mike’s gift suggestions for the outdoorsman, 2017 edition


“Ho, Ho, Ho! Merry Christmas! On Donner! On Blitzen!”

Hey, gang, didn’t see ya’ standing there. Ready for the holidays?

As I do every year, I thought I would give you some last-minute ideas for the sportsmen in your lives. And, guys and gals, if you see something you might like, circle it and leave the article where the other half is sure to see it. Of course, I don’t offer this advice with any guarantees.

Heading up my Christmas list is the gift that fits everyone: a gift card! They are easy to purchase, come in all denominations to suit everyone’s budget and just about all of the sporting outlets, big and small, handle them. In our area, you have the Fishin’ Factory in Milldale (860-621-8145), Dicks at Westfield Shopping Town and Cabela’s in Hartford.

One of the warmest things going are Under Armour men’s shirts. I have a couple of them and, when settling down in a deer stand or on the frozen water icefishing, these items can’t be beat.

Cold weather clothing and accessories for the entire family have come a long way. Years ago, anything wool was the go-to clothing for hunting because even when it got wet it was warm — and HEAVY!

Today, space age materials have taken over and they are superior in every way. Things like boots and socks have changed for both weight and comfort, be it hot weather or the coldest of days.

And when it comes to clothing of any kind for the hunter in the family, camouflage is the way to go if you want to remain in style. Some of my camouflage gear is old enough to vote, but the new camo comes in all kinds of camo patterns depending on what you are hunting.

For the waterfowlers, you can even buy chest waders with various aquatic backgrounds on them. There are also some dynamic camo patterns for turkey hunters. If I had one complaint it would be that there are way too many patterns available, but that’s the way the market is today.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for outdoor apparel and equipment that comes in camo — sometimes. However, why underwear and knives? The underwear is hidden, so why bother? And I am totally against any knife that has a camo handle. I have one and have taken to covering the handle with fluorescent red duct tape so I can find the dang thing if I lay it on the ground while dressing out a deer.

Don’t tell me that hasn’t happened to you. And just between me and you, the best camo going is for you to sit still in your tree stand when you are hunting.

Archery is still in full swing, and crossbows are very popular. Also consider that, here in Connecticut, many archers with the proper private land permits have areas 11 and12 to hunt until the end of January. Just make sure you have your 2018 license and permits.

Trail cameras are a popular item both in the woods and also around the home. A friend of mine who will remain nameless for obvious reasons has put a couple of trail cameras up in his yard and you would not believe the deer he has seen on it. They are also good for seeing skunks, both four-legged and two-legged, prowling about the backyard after dark.

Depending on how much you want to spend, archers can always use new arrows and broadhead tips for their hunting arrows. A tree stand — climbing or ladder-type — is also a welcome gift for those that hunt.

Old guys like yours truly used to go in to their stands in the dark using a couple of blaze marks on trees. Not any more. Today’s hunters wander the woods and mountains using all kinds of GPS systems that, at one time, were simply in vehicles. Now they are portable and, depending on what you are looking for, a very good price.

Getting back to trail cameras, they make a really nifty big item for the hunter in your life. I notice in one of the fliers I recently received that some of them have been marked down for holiday purchase, with some going for as little as $57.50 while the more expensive ones for $224.99.

For those who like to target practice, but are tired of all the red tape purchasing ammo, why not ask for one of those neat .177 caliber air rifles? They can even be purchased with a scope and are accurate beyond belief. The greatest thing is they shoot pellets using air compression to propel them.

I also saw one of the big outfitters offering a food dehydrator. They were on sale for the holidays and this item was going on sale for $89.99! They are great for making game jerky.

Many times it’s the little things that are overlooked when buying for the holidays. There is nothing more appreciated that a pair of warm gloves for hunting or fishing.

Again, depending on the condition of the bank book, why not a boat? It does not have to be a luxury. A small cartop boat, kayak or canoe can open a whole new world of fishing for a sportsman who up to now has been limited to the shoreline.

And if you purchase that kayak or canoe, please make sure you purchase a life jacket with it. A life jacket makes a perfect gift for Christmas. You could call it “the gift of life.”

When you are shopping boats, why not check out Suburban Marine over of the Chamberlain Highway or, for a used boat, The Fishin’ Factory in Milldale.

 As for the fisherman in your life, I know that it is now winter, but spring is only a couple of months away. Rods and reels top the list and the price ranges are pretty decent, depending on what you are buying.

Rod and reel combinations are geared for whatever species of fish you are after. At one time, it was one rod and reel was good for just about all of our fishing needs. Not any more, at least according to the various manufacturers. When shopping, talk to the sales folks like Pete and Vennie over at the Fishin’ Factory in Milldale.

There are fishing outfits that are perfect for the beginning fisherman and there are rods and reel combos that are geared to a specific species of fish. Generally a rod and reel that will handle a trout will also serve you well when fishing for other panfish like sunfish, perch and bullheads.

For the upland game hunter, a gift certificate for an outing at Millstream Hunting Preserve in Lebanon is the perfect gift. Give Don Favry a call at 860-863-5744.

Hey, gang, see ya and MERRY CHRISTMAS and God Bless America and watch over our troops wherever they may be serving.    


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