Category Archives: Gift Guide

3rd Annual AHT Holiday Gift Guide for Sportsmen

If you’re shopping for a sportsman, it can be difficult thumbing through the way-too-many Christmas catalogs that come from the big-box hunting retailers (Note: you know which stores they are – the ones that repackage the same catalog and send it once a week to your door. I joke, but I still go through each one!).

Well, here’s hoping we can make it a little easier for the shopper. And if you’re the one being shopped for, just send this post to your shopper!

Touch of Outdoors
Remington Country, U.S.A. (Remington’s new, updated online store) has several items to accessorize your favorite outdoorsman. The site is loaded with great gift ideas. A couple possibilities with class include cuff links made from the brass of a Remington shell, as well as Remington money clips.

The new store also has several assembled gift boxes to choose from that include accoutrements such as cleaning equipment, knives, hats, etc. Those come in a number of price ranges (from $20-$80). There also is a gift box targeted (pun intended) at women.

Through Dec. 19, orders of a certain price get 15% off at checkout.

Compact Video Camera
This is the third year in a row that the compact video camera has made the holiday gift guide. And if your hunter does not-yet have one, he or she wants one. I promise. They take video, they double as a still camera. They are compact enough to tuck into a coat or pant pocket, and they take phenomenal HD-quality video.

And here’s the best news: They have come down in price over the last several years. In fact, I found this price for a Koday PLAYTOUCH digital video camera while doing a little searching for a friend. The great price is probably a sign of a new model coming next year, but this camera seems like a winner to me.

And if it’s headed to your favorite sportsman, remember to add a flexible tripod to make their life easier afield.

Trail camera
Much like video cameras, trail cameras have come out of the stratosphere with respect to price. Now, even if your hunter has 1-2 trail cameras, there is always room for another.

Several retailers have “get in the door” pricing on several cameras this year. There are pros and cons to buying any brand, but most do a respectable job based on the price point they’re selling at.

Blue Book of Gun Values
Most hunters who own more than one gun has an interest in the values of their own inventory, as well as some of the guns they would like to own down the road.

The best book I’ve found for this is the Blue Book of Gun Values. There are plenty of others, but this annual digest has an enormous list of gun values and breaks them down by the condition of the weapon. While it’s not necessary to get the updated version each year, it is nice to refresh with an updated version of the digest every five years or so.

A non-gamer’s video game
I am not a “gamer.” I don’t mind playing a little Wii bowling or tennis from time to time, but it’s been 20 years since I mastered the code to go straight to fight Mike Tyson in Punch Out on Nintendo.

That said, I’m more intrigued than ever by the new line of hunting “simulations” that are available across all gaming platforms. And since we have a Wii in our house, I think I could see myself playing the new Cabela’s Big Game Hunter 2012 from time to time.

My hunch is most avid outdoorsmen wouldn’t mind giving it a shot in the offseason.

A gun kit
Does your hunter double as a “Do It Yourselfer”? If so, how about purchasing a black-powder kit and allow him to build the gun that he will hunt with next season?

There are a few common brands that are affordable ($300ish) that essentially provide all the parts for a hunter to assemble a tack-driving nostalgic muzzleloading gun.

There are pistols too.

New floor mats for the truck!
Chances are, his or hers are dirty. And there are a number of aftermarket brands that make great, custom-fit floor mats that keep the dirt, grime and mud out of your truck’s floorboards. They range in prices, but they pay for themselves by keeping your truck clean.

Yeti Cooler
Looking to spend a little more dough on your loved one? A YETI cooler could be a perfect gift. Ranging in price ($250-$800) based on size, these coolers are about as good as it gets for keeping colds cold and hots hot. They have an unmatched amount of insulation and are molded to keep things from leaking.

They are really nice!

Big Rack Shedz
A neat little touch for any hunter, these miniature shed antlers are designed to hang from a rearview mirror. They are under $15.

The company also makes miniature European mounts of several animals that can stick to a dash.

Flaunt that you’re a hunter!

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Last-Minute Gift Ideas For Your Hunter!

Christmas shopping can be a little bit like deer hunting. You can spend weeks afield without finding the right deer, much like you can waste several hours in stores seeking the right gifts. As my 2010 hunting season can atest – sometimes it only takes a few hours to get the job done.

With that, I suppose it’s time to start thinking about Christmas gifts! I mean, there are still two solid afternoons to buy gifts. For those of you looking for ideas on the go, here are a few that can help make the hunter in your life very happy this year.

Socks … and I mean really good socks
Very few items you take hunting with you can be more important than a quality, warm pair of hunting socks. They’re easy to purchase, but here’s one where you can get what you pay for.

Warm socks are vital to a happy day afield in those cold November and December days

I hunt mostly with a wool/cotton combination and wear only one pair (no matter the temperature).

A quality sock will keep your feet warm (when coupled with the appropriate boot) at all conditions. Most quality socks run anywhere from $12-$16 per pair. And you can find them at any sporting goods store.

Boots … And I mean good boots
I purchased a pair of Irish Setter RutMaster boots with the ExoFlex system after doing a lot of shopping (trying on) earlier this fall. They’ve been a comfortable, warm boot for some of the cold conditions I’ve hunted.

Irish Setter RutMaster boots

There are other quality boots out there. I also have a couple pair of Muck boots that I like wearing. If your hunter is worried about scent control, be sure to focus your attention on rubber boots. Prices vary by level of Thinsulate insulation and manufacturer. A good 800 gr boot will run a shade more than $100 in most cases. The particular boot I referenced is usually $139. It’s expensive, but a hunter’s wheels are the root to having a positive hunt.

A handheld video camera to document all the partying at camp … I mean, all the hunting afield
I’ve talked in the past about how much I enjoy my Kodak Zi8 when I’m hunting. It’s a great little camera that captures HD quality video and takes pretty good photos to boot.

The Zi8

There are several manufacturers who make similar cameras (Flip being the most popular), but it is worth noting that Kodak is the only manufacturer I’m aware of that actively markets to outdoorsmen.

The Rochester, N.Y., company has a couple models that are designed for sportsmen. They look a lot like the Zi8 I purchased before they started doing that and I’m not sure I’d trade my camera for another now that I have gotten used to it. It fits on my hip in a case and has been a blast the last two hunting seasons. The price on these also varies, but be prepared to spend $150-$200.

A knife sharperner
This is another quality gift that is worth mentioning as a possibility each year. These range in quality, functionality and price. Chef’s Choice makes a wide array of sharpeners.

A popular Chef's Choice model

There are several out there, including a Cabela’s licensed brand that is very similar to the Chef’s Choice.

If you spend a little more than bottom dollar, you can get one that sharpens both straight edge and surrated. This makes a great sharpener for those kitchen knives too. The biggest difference is the number of stages the sharpener will run a knife through. Most are 2-4 stages. The price range of sharpeners is between $35 and $200. A good one can be purchased for $50.

The ‘uh oh, I forgot to shop and need the greatest gift to give’ idea
If you’re in the mood to wow your hunter and looking to find an awesome gift OR you have a future hunter that you’d like to provide a legacy for, giving a lifetime license could be the perfect gift.

Most states now sell Lifetime Licenses for residents and they can be pricey (most lifetime hunting licenses are $500 for adults), but pay huge dividends for a lifelong hunter. It’s a purchase I made years ago and have since made for my daughter. Many states offer a very attractive price to buy for young kids (sometimes infants under 1 year old).

Check with your local state department of natural resources or game commission for more information. All I’ve ever checked into could be purchased online.

Have a great holiday!
Kurt


Fret no more … AHT’s 2009 Sportsman’s Gift Guide

I pity my poor wife. In fact, I feel sorry for any relative that’s tasked with purchasing a gift for me throughout the year. I’m not easy to shop for, I know that. And most of that is rooted in me already having just about anything and everything that’s associated with my favorite pastime.

Making it worse, I have a habit of simply buying the things I want, when I want them. Of course, it doesn’t help that my daily commute includes driving by the illuminated Bass Pro Shops in Concord, NC! Have you ever witnessed the attraction to a flood light that moths have? That’s sort of the same thing you can see watching my car on Interstate 85.

Thus, my family has grown accustomed to buying what many good-hearted Americans serve as gifts around the holidays … gift certificates!

In the spirit of ol’ Saint Nick, though, I thought I’d hammer out a few gift ideas for the outdoorsmen in your family this year. Send your wife, mamma, in-laws or siblings the link to this blog and you too can make sure the gift under the tree with your name on it will be something you can put to good use afield.

New Flashlight – Coming in all shapes, sizes and price ranges, the sportsman in your life can never have too many flashlights. I often think of my grandfather who had flashlights tucked in every corner of his life (Of course, he always had rubber bands available at every turn as well, but those would be a little cheap as a gift). I’ve found that you can get a great flashlight for a respectable price by doing the trip through the camping area of your local Wal-Mart. The key is to get something that’s LED and carries the highest Lumen rating as possible.

The polystinger is durable and throws a heckuva beam of light

I purchased a Coleman for under $20 that has been a great addition to my pack. For those of you looking to spend a little more than that, the Streamlight Polystinger has become a friend to this blogger as well. It comes with both wall and cigarette-lighter (AC and DC) chargers. They’re bright, but a little on the pricey side (around $75 if you shop around).

Custom Ear Plugs – I’ve just learned about a product that will make its way on my own Santa wish list this year. The Radians Custom Ear Molds (www.radians.com) run roughly $15 and include all the epoxy, etc. to form your own, custom ear protection without the hefty price tag.

Camera Tripod – As you’ve learned, it’s no secret that I love taking video and photos while afield. The gorilla tripod is a handy tool that can pretty much help steady your camera or camcorder to anything. Check out http://www.joby.com for different models and to learn where you can purchase.

Two-way Radios – Once a considerable investment, the price of many models have dropped out of the stratosphere to provide hunters with a great tool to communicate with their fellow hunting party members afield. My family purchased Midland 22-channel, rechargeable models this year to help get everyone on common channels that were different from the low-frequency common channels that half our county used! Do check your local game regulations to see if hunting with radios is allowed prior to buying these for your sportsman.

Knife Sharpener – Look folks, the hunter with the sharpest knife in camp is the coolest. It’s that simple. For several years, my brother and I made sharpening our knives with a Lansky sharpening kit the night before the deer opener an annual ritual. Then, of course, we’d brag to see which knife headed to the woods with the best edge! Time has had a way of helping us here too, as electric-type sharpeners that use technology to make sure your blade ends up with a 20-degree edge have come down to an affordable price (under $50). Visit http://www.chefschoice.com) to learn about several of that manufacturer’s models.

Kodak Zi8 – If you read my early-season reviews of new gadgets in my bag this year, you learned that I’m a big fan of having this alongside me afield. The handheld HD camcorder continues to impress. Trips afield are meant for making memories. Why not chronicle them easily to relive and pass on? The Zi8 is just one of the different types of cameras out there. This too is a little pricier, running in the $175 area this festive season.

Base Layer – Buy quality base layers for your hunter. There are several different manufacturers that make quality cold-weather lycra-based products. You can’t go wrong with Under Armour, but you pay for the name. Buying underwear for your hunter might seem a bit boring, but trust me when I tell you that he or she will thank you later.

Other ideas include: Shooting Stix, GPS, Boot Dryers and Smart Wool socks.

Finally, don’t forget the pooch when you’re picking out those outdoor trinkets. Santa will be getting Sage a warmer hunting vest for our trip to the coast this winter. We’re also considering getting her a teeth cleaning ($120) sometime later this month. If you’d keep that between us for the next few weeks, I’d appreciate it! The surprise is the best part.


2009 New Gear Ratings …

New Gear Performance Ratings: Accompanying me this year during the archery season have been a few new pieces of gear. Below are my reviews of their initial use.

• Kodak Zi8 video camera: Awesome product. I was extremely pleased with the performance of the camera.

DSC03651

It was not the Zi8 taking this photo!

The camera guy? He needed a little work. The HD video camera is small enough that it becomes a challenge to hold steady while your adrenaline is pumping hard with deer around! I got better at getting steadier the more I used it. The video was good quality in low- and high-light and the internal microphone did a great job picking up sounds. The one challenge is the stepped zoom. Instead of gradually moving in and out, the zoom jumps. It’s not a deal breaker for me. The hidden gem of the product: It doubles as an awesome tool for checking trail cameras afield. Just slap the SD card in the camera and get color photos from your trail cams. This product rates out as a booner in my book.

• Primos bow sling: This thing was a gift or I wouldn’t own one, but I’m kicking myself for never having one before hand. It’s sort of a hands-free device when you’re walking to/from your stand.

DSC03644

The Primos Sling keeps the Monster settled ...

I also underestimated it as a nice shield for your string and cams when in transport. It’s another booner.

• Manzella Ranger bow hunting gloves: These were replacements for a pair of Rocky gloves that I’d had for a couple years. I almost pulled the trigger on buying a pair of Under Armour gloves, but opted to try these. Overall, they did their job. That said, they frayed a large amount for just one week’s use. And they seemed a bit bulkier between the fingers than some of the other gloves I’ve used in the past. I’ll likely be replacing these. I’ll rate these as a 100” 8 pointer!

• Mathews Monster: It sure looked good in the tree, but I sadly didn’t get to fling the first arrow from it. Shooting the foam target at camp – not quite the same as shooting at a deer – showed that it should perform well when given the chance. Holding the rating until it gets the “true” test.