Deer season in the North Country officially ends today. The holiday season, meanwhile, is steadily upon us.
Each year I enjoy compiling a small list of items for the sportsman (or woman) on your shopping list. These are simply products I’ve come across throughout the year that I either use myself, or find interesting enough to recommend to others. I’m in no way endorsing these products over their competitors, I’m just telling you what I’ve used (or want to use) and why I think it’s applicable in the outdoor world.
Likely one of the hottest products in the hunting industry right now are trail cameras. The fact is that they are being used not only by hunters but by wildlife watchers of all types. Trail camera prices have moderated and many can be found for under $100. Yet, high-end models can be very expensive.
Like a digital camera, resolution in terms of megapixels dictates the quality of the photos as well as the price of the camera. Some other features to look for include video, infrared versus flash for night photos, and range. Most trail camera enthusiasts will tell you that those that operate on AA batteries seem to have the longest battery life in the field.
Moving on to footwear, a few years ago I purchased a pair of Muckboots (www.muckboots.com) prior to going on a moose hunt in Newfoundland. Muckboots are pretty much tops in the industry for pull-on, waterproof boots. They have a variety of styles for everything from hunting to farming. While I’m not crazy about pull-on boots, I wore my Mucks throughout my recent whitetail hunt in some swampy territory up in Maine and always wear them turkey hunting and during archery season. In my opinion, they’re about as good a boot that you’ll find in this style in terms of comfort and ankle support.
This year I put some mileage on a new pair of boots by Woods n’ Stream (woodnstream.com) that are designed just for my style of hunting, which is traversing Adirondack terrain. I like lace-up boots with solid ankle support and a good tread. They also can’t be too warm because my feet sweat when I’m on the move, which is most of the time. So far, I’m really happy with these boots. They’ve got 600 grams of Thinsulate and have remained waterproof right up until the end of the season. Often I have to treat boots with Camp Dry at some point or another.
The outdoor industry just keeps churning out new products. In some cases, its a common item that happens to have an outdoors application and in others it’s something with multiple uses. On the back page of their holiday catalog, L.L. Bean has a mini emergency radio that retails for $29.95. It’s an AM/FM and NOAA weather radio with a flashlight that contains a rechargeable battery. You charge the battery either by a hand crank or by using a USB connection to your computer or other USB charging device, which is becoming more and more common.
For photo buffs a nice little gift might be what is called a camera extender. It’s a telescoping bipod that you attach to your camera for self-portraits. They’re inexpensive and are showing up at camera retailers and online. You can hold it in your hand to keep the camera out away from you, or lean it against something like a tree or a rock. Hunters and anglers could really use something like this for taking those trophy shots.
One unique little item I recently stumbled upon in the sporting goods section at Wal-Mart that would make a great stocking stuffer is Life Gear’s four-in-one flashlight. The flashlight itself is LED but it also has a glow stick mode that can also be used as a flasher. There’s a whistle, too. It comes with three hearing-aid size batteries that are supposed to last up to 200 hours. This could be the best five bucks you’ll spend this holiday season. The light is now part of my regular travel gear and will be with me on kayak trips next summer.
If you’ve got a gun owner on your list, and if you can find it, you may want to get them some ammunition. Ammo has been in short supply this past year, not only in New York, but everywhere. Keep in mind that ammunition is a very specific thing as bullets come in different weights and hunters usually stick with the same load from the same manufacturer for consistency purposes. You may, or may not, be able to find it. One area you can’t go wrong ammo-wise is with .22-rimfire ammunition. Most of us would take just about anything we could get our hands on there.
Happy holidays to all.
Dan Ladd is the author of “Deer Hunting in the Adirondacks,” outdoors editor for the Glens Falls Chronicle, columnist for Outdoors Magazine and contributor to New York Outdoor News. Contact him at www.adkhunter.com.