An Outdoorsman’s Christmas Wish List


Each December I compile a list of potential possibilities for those shopping for the outdoorsman on their list.   Feedback indicates a lot of you depend on MY Christmas wish list as a source for ideas for a spouse, father, son, brother, etc.   

It should be noted, I haven’t used a lot of these products, but I know of them and keep in mind, in many ways it’s my personal wish list too.   Each of these products is made by various companies and is made in varying degrees of quality.   My time-tested theory on outdoors equipment has been, "you get what you pay for."    It’s not always the case, but for the most part it’s a guiding principal that has served me well.   

Therefore, without further delay and in no particular order, the 2009 WV Outdoors Top 10 Christmas list:

1.  TRAIL-CAM:   These handy items are growing in popularity.  They’ve become incredibly useful items for guys who don’t have a lot of time to scout an area, but want to know how viable their chosen hunting spot may be.    It’s suggested that you get one that provides digital images, but there are amazingly still some that provide opportunities to load film.     Some are even sophisticated enough to provide a direct feed to the internet and let you monitor your stand 24/7 from the comforts of home.    The device can help pattern deer and learn their timing.   As a result they can also be used as a good set of "security eyes" to see if anybody has been trespassing.    

2. RANGE FINDER:   This is another gadget item that is highly useful for bow hunting.   Judging distance is critical when you draw down on an animal.   Typically bows are cited with various pins set for various distances.   A good range finder can take a lot of the guess-work and estimation out of the equation and help hunters to be more assured their shot will be lethal on the first draw.   They’re also handy at the shooting range when sighting in scopes.  

3. SPOTTING SCOPE:  The spotting scope is another handy item when you’re cranking off rounds at the shooting range.   The typical method is to fire three shots, wait for everybody else to stop shooting, walk 100, 200, or 300 yards to the target and make some mental notes, walk back, adjust the scope, and begin the process again with three shots.     The spotting scope is powerful enough to give you an arm’s length view of a target after those three shots without ever leaving your seat on the bench.   They also have great hunting applications if your outdoorsman spends any hunting time out west.   Although in West Virginia you typically don’t have to scan a ridgeline two miles away, it’s common in Alaska or the Rockies to spend much of the day "glassing" for game and planning out a full day’s pursuit judged on what you’ve seen. 

4: GROUND BLIND:  The ground blind comes in all shapes and sizes.   It offers a tremendous advantage when hunting in situations.   It makes concealment simple, especially at the edge of an open field.   They are also handy for elderly or handicapped hunters who may have difficulty getting into a tree stand or other hard to reach spot.   The tiny shelters are good places to corral children during hunting experiences.   Concealment is only half the issue however, they provide great protection from the elements and when properly anchored can offer a very comfortable hunting spot and extend the hunting day tremendously.

5. ANTLER MOUNTING KIT:  Taxidermy can be expensive, but nobody wants to let the memory of a nice buck slip away to a shelf in the garage.   Sometimes you may have a set of antlers that wouldn’t be considered big enough on your personal trophy meter to mount the whole head, but the rack would be worthy of the wall.    The antler mounting kids are simple, affordable, and are easy to handle yourself.   A word of note on these, it has been my experience that quality can be suspect in some of these kits.   The ones I personally recommend come from Vandyke’s Taxidermy and sell for about $25.

6.  SUNGLASSES:   No outdoorsman can live without a good set of shades.   However, dime store eye covers aren’t going to cover the needs of any true sportsman.    The first thing I want in a set of sunglasses is polarization.  Polarized glasses eliminate the glare of the sun off water and enable you to see deep below water’s surface, revealing fish you would have missed with the naked eye.  There are a variety of shades including my personal favorite, amber lenses which tend to gather light while reducing glare.   Although they are truly function over style, I want a pair that looks at least marginally hip. There are plenty of quality sunglasses on the market, a look in a fishing catalog will reveal the array.  My personal favorites are H2Optix. 

7.  SEAT COVERS:   Whether it’s hunting or fishing a sportsman typically wears home the outdoors.    I’ve stained many a truck seat with muddy clothes.  I’ve also owned trucks with the funk of fish odor and covered in dog hair.     A good seat of seat covers is essential for protecting your ride.   They are also good options for guys who work in an environment, like the coal mines, where typically their work clothes are filthy.   Look carefully when you buy because many manufacturers make products that will custom-fit specific truck models.

8.  ATV ACCESSORIES:  I personally do not own an ATV, however they are wildly popular with West Virginia outdoorsmen.    One potential idea is to buy a cover for his ATV.   Choose a camo pattern that most resembles the woods where he hunts.   Such an option will allow him to drive to his deer stand, park at the tree and then cover it without fear it will be spotted from several hundred yards away.    Much like the truck seat covers, manufacturers will custom build the products for specific ATV models. 

9.  SAND BAGS:   These may sound simple, but there is no more useful tool in shooting than a solid and protected place to rest your rifle.   Range shooting is precision shooting.   Whether you’re just trying to site a deer rifle or are truly practicing to better your accuracy a set of good sandbags, made just for shooting applications, is valued equipment.   A set might include two or three pieces, often covered in leather.



The need for communication in the outdoors is important for everybody, whether they are hunting or fishing.   I own several different sets of these radios and they’ve been valuable assets to communicate with other hunters in your party.    We also used to give one to our son when he would leave the house to hunt in a nearby tree stand.  It allowed peace of mind that he was okay while hunting.  There are various brands that are of high quality, the best I’ve used are by Motorola. 

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