Outdoor Journal: A few Christmas suggestions for outdoor enthusiasts

Twenty-two days left before that jolly fat man in a red suit lands on your roof and slides down your

Categories: Sports

Twenty-two days left before that jolly fat man in a red suit lands on your roof and slides down your chimney. Are you ready, or are you still struggling for gift ideas for the outdoors man/woman in your life?

Well, perhaps I can help you with a few of the items I find attractive and recently told Mr. (Mrs.) Claus that I really had to have. Here’s a quick peek at my Christmas wish-list and a few that I already have.


I spend a lot of time at the shooting range throughout the year, and I found two must-have items to help me. One is the Shooter’s Ridge ult­imate range bag which puts everything you need at the range in one place. It includes Champion passive ear muffs and shooting glasses, ShotKeeper targets for high-visibility of shot placement, the Shooter’s Ridge front sandbag to steady your firearm and Outers Universal brass cleaning kit for rifles, shotguns and handguns. It’s compact, yet complete for your range work. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price of the ultimate shooting bag is $110. www.shootersridge.com

One new item I recently acquired that’s a “must have” for every shooter is the Avid Design’s gun tool. It’s an all-in-one multi-tool designed for rifles and shotguns. One of the major features of this tool, espec­ially for trap, skeet and sporting clay shooters, is the universal choke wrenches for both tightening and loosening chokes from .410- to 10-gauge. Here is a list of other all-in-one tools that are included: 420 SS claw-point blade, gun pin punch, scope windage/elevation blade, torx drives, Allen hex drives, magnetic 3/16 driver, screwdrivers, magnetic bit storage block with access door — all enclosed in a 420 stainless-steel frame with rubber grip-coated polymer jackets. Suggested retail price is $25. www.aviddesignco.com.


If your outdoors person is looking for a new way to hunt small game or just have some backyard shooting fun, they they would definitely be surprised if Santa left them a GAMO Whisper .177-caliber single-shot Silent Cat air rifle package, complete with a 4×32 scope. With a maximum velocity of 1,200 feet per second using the new PBA ammo, it is more than enough power to turn those squirrels and rabbits into stew meat. Features include an 18-inch fluted break barrel single cocking system (only 30 pounds force required to activate) with automatic safety, two-stage trigger (3.79 pounds), all-weather stock, and fiber optic front and rear sights. Weighing just 5.28 pounds, it’s 46 inches long overall, great for adult fun and teaching young hunters/shooters. Suggested retail price is $225. www.gamousa.com.

And speaking of new, how about tricking out that old Ruger 10/22 long rifle you have sitting in your gun cabinet? Shooter’s Ridge is offering a complete makeover package that will not only turn heads at the range, but also improve the gun’s accuracy. Included in the package are a choice of stainless steel fluted or blue barrels with a 1:16 right-hand twist, recessed target crowns with 45-degree break and the ability to shoot a half-inch group at 50 yards with premium ammo. The synthetic thumbhole stock, which is my favorite, is ergonomically designed and features still pillar (cushion between the barrel and stock) for accuracy, high cheek piece and soft recoil pad for shooting comfort. The suggested retail prices on these packages are $242.49 to $377.49. They can be bought separately for the 10/22. They also offer a magazine release for $6 that will allow quick and clean insertion of a fresh loaded magazine. www.shootersridge.com

Calling game is usually a major part of a hunter’s repertoire that often determines his/her success. It’s especially true for spring turkey hunting. Both the toms and the hens are quite vocal then, and to get that longbeard into range, you’d better be able to imitate a love-sick hen.

The call I’ve relied on to do this is the Wilson Game Call box call designed and marketed by Jerry Wilson of Bangor, Pa. Offered in four models, Half Moon, Red Cedar, Black Walnut and Purple Heart, all produce realistic hen calls that can bring them on the run. I’ve used this call successfully in a dozen states, Mexico and Canada, and it has played a primary role in my completion of all the National Wild Turkey Federation record slams. Retail price of the box call is $20. The laser-engraved wild turkey model is $25. Also, be sure to check out his Executioner grunt call. www.wilsongamecalls.com


Speaking of turkeys, it’s a sitting sport, and those long hours on the ground can be hard on your sitter and your back. But now you can eliminate the stiffness with the Alps Outdoorz’s Turkey Chair MC. Its design allows you to sit in a low profile and be comfortable for the whole hunt. And when you’re comfortable, you’re not moving — very important when turkey hunting. Two of its major advantages over folding stools and pads are that it has a comfortable back support, which means you do not necessarily have to find a tree to lean against, and the center mesh material allows for air flow while seated. The chair folds flat and measures 23 inches wide, 12 inches deep and 21 inches high. It weighs just six pounds, has a capacity rating of 300 pounds, comes in Realtree AP HD and has a carrying strap. I recently sat in the Turkey Chair for six hours in the deer woods, and it was comfortable. Retail price is $45. www.alpsoutdoorz.com


I know from experience that every fisherman/woman needs a new rod, and here’s one I think they would really like to find under the tree. It’s the Rapsody Fishing Company’s Maestro Bass Fishing Series, which offers 18 choices (11 casting and seven spinning). I purchased one of these rods in early August and gave it a good workout throughout the summer and fall, and I was quite happy with how it performed. These rods are made from high-performance carbon fiber, they’re lightweight and their sensitivity will let you feel the slightest bite. And they cast great. Other features include line guides that recoil and won’t break when pressed down, have a Fugi reel seat, cork handle and a red metal flake paint. Retail prices, depending on the model, range from $179–$199. www.rapsodyfishing.com

Here ‘s something I hope to hang in my boat next season — the Flambeau 4003ST Hanging Boat Bag — the ultimate soft-sided tackle-carrying system for fisherman/women that mounts on the side of the boat with a hide-away hook system. Its features include a drop-down work surface and three Tuff Tainer lure boxes and side pockets for smaller boxes or equipment. It measures 12x8x6 inches. The larger model, 5003ST, has the same features but holds three larger Tuff Tainer boxes. It measures 16x10x8 inches. Both have a satchel-type handle and shoulder carrying strap. Retail price is $49 for the 4003ST and $58 for the 5003ST. www.flambeauoutdoors.com.

Here are a few of the lures that were highly successful catching all the game fish species last season. They all belong in a serious angler’s tackle box.

In the plastics category, the No. 1 leader, by far, continues to be the wacky worm, and there are several product lines that work equally well. The Yamamoto Senko first introduced the technique six or seven years ago, but there are imitations that have more recently come on the market that are a bit more econ­omically priced. I found the Venom Salty Sling to work equally well. Others include the Berkley Wacky Crawler and Bass Pro Shops Yum Dinger worms. To fish these plastics, be sure to stuff a few packages of No. 2/0 and 3/0 Eagle Claw Laser Sharp Wacky Worm Hooks in that stocking.

For hard baits, you’ll want to include the hottest of all the top water baits — the Pop-R. All this bait does is catch fish, and it comes in a var­iety of colors, all of which are good. Another popular fish-getter, which has actually been the No. 1-selling hard bait for the past five years, is the Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap. It has a Liv-N-Sound which produces a life-like replication of a distressed baitfish which predator fish cannot resist. And this includes not only bass, but northern pike and walleye. My favorite is firetiger, but the gold and silver also work well.


While unloading my hunting backpack after my week-long trip to hunting camp, I noticed two items I think every hunter should be carrying afield — the Backtrack GPS personal location finder and the HD Torch Flashlight. Both are products just introduced by Bushnell this year. The first thing I noticed when using the Backtrack was its simplicity. This unit will store up to three locations and requires only two-button operation. Mark where you started into the woods. When you want come out, select that location and it will guide you out. It also has a self-calibrating digital compass, is water resistant, operates on two AAA batteries and comes with a lanyard.

The HD Torch is what I consider to be the biggest improvement in flashlight I’ve ever seen. Conventional flashlights produce circular patterns of light that are non-uniform irregular “blobs” of light, but what Bushell has developed is an innovative and patented technology that provides a uniform pattern of light from edge to edge, or a perfectly uniform square beam of light that provides high-definition illumination. Both the Bushnell BackTracker and the HD Torch have MSRP of about $60. www.bushnell.com

Circle your choices in red and tape this to the refrigerator door so Santa can find it.

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