Outdoor Notebook: Gift ideas for the outdoor enthusiast
Wisconsin is a deer hunter’s dream. Very few other states offer as many opportunities for deer hunting. The archery deer season ran from Sept. 15 until Nov. 15 and opened again from Nov. 17 until Jan. 6, 2013. The Youth deer hunt opened Oct. 6 and closed Oct. 7. The traditional gun-deer hunt was open from Nov. 17 until Nov. 25. Then the muzzleloader season ran from Nov. 26 through Dec. 5. The four-day statewide antlerless hunt was open from Dec. 6th until Dec. 9. There are also open hunts in the CWD area.
We chose to hunt most of these seasons and so far have not had a chance to take a shot. Last weekend we drove west to Osseo with the intention of shooting a corn-fed antlerless deer. Over the past number of years, we never had any difficulty shooting antlerless deer on the farm that we have hunted for many years. Two years ago, it took us an hour to kill two fat does. This year the “Osseo Jinx” and I hunted several days and neither of us saw a deer. Worse yet, we did not see many deer tracks. Tom had told me that the deer population had been significantly reduced during the past two years. Our sons, who grew up hunting and shooting deer on the farm, had a difficult time imagining that we could hunt on the farm for several days and not see a deer.
The key question is what we should do next. My time will be spent looking for a deer while carrying my bow. If we get a few nice days, my interest moves toward some afternoons of ice fishing. If you are beginning to fish through the ice, use caution and if you are making the first track on the ice, continually check the ice’s thickness. It just is not fun falling through the ice.
As we approach Christmas, are you still in need of ideas for any of the names on your gift list? If any of those are outdoor enthusiasts, it should not be difficult to find appropriate gifts.
Many outdoors people have a need for a good knife. A good knife will hold a sharp blade, even when used frequently. My personal preference is for a folding knife. Anyone who hunts from an elevated platform will appreciate a folding knife if they should fall. A one-piece sheath knife can cause considerable damage during a fall.
The clothing available today far exceeds what was available even 10 years ago. Underwear that wicks moisture away from a person’s body will keep an active outdoorsman or woman comfortably warm, even when engaging in vigorous outdoor activity. Likewise, there are many different kinds of warm boots available. They are insulated and waterproof.
If the person on your list is an angler, there is no shortage of quality products that will help the angler catch more fish. A good GPS unit will make it easier to find underwater humps or weed edges. Portable GPS units are helping hunters locate their tree stands or areas where they had previously seen deer or ducks.
Fishing rods that are available today make 10-year-old rods feel more like clubs than quality fishing rods. Even the light jigging rods have improved so that an angler does not need a float but can feel the bite of pan fish. An ultra-light spinning reel mounted on a small jigging rod will give ice anglers many hours of fun.
I use rods that are manufactured in Park Falls by the St. Croix Company. That company has done extensive research to put quality rods on the market at a variety of prices.
If we have a good old-fashioned winter, a pair of cross country skies or snowshoes will provide many hours of healthy exercise. I have found that the new snowshoes with aluminum frames are easier to use and require much less upkeep than the older wood and leather shoes.
Perhaps the best suggestion is to consult with the sales persons at some of the area sport shops. They know the products they sell and what people are buying.
From our home to yours-Merry Christmas!
Longtime Northwoods outdoors personality Roger Sabota writes a bi-monthly column for the Star Journal.