Ho! Ho! Ho!
Considering our predicaments, it’s difficult to believe “all will be merry and bright” during our most celebrated holiday season. It’s sort of up to each one of us to make our way through to make it the best possible in this “most enjoyable time of the year.”
Because so many folks believe this season involves giving gifts, it’s time for some to offer ideas.
Even during this unsettling time, the interest in a youngster’s first firearm is, from all appearances, at an all-time high.
To save you a trip to crowded stores, most outdoors items can be ordered online, and now’s the time to make sure you have them for the Big Day.
From several dedicated shooters (not just me), the best advice is to teach a young boy or girl — and there are more and more girls, women, too, getting involved in the shooting sports — about firearm safety and how to shoot.
This can be done with a less expensive air rifle, rather than jumping into a youth-model, small-caliber rifle or shotgun. Most quality air rifles are single shot and require the shooter to master skills like using the rifle’s safety, proper sight alignment and sight picture, breathing control and how to squeeze (not pull) the trigger.
After mastering those skills, you can advance to modern firearms, remembering that fitting a rifle or shotgun to the child is as important as choosing a caliber or a shotgun’s gauge. Know, too, if it’s time for a child’s first shotgun, things like gauge and recoil are important factors.
Air rifles can be ordered online, but you must take a trip to a gun shop for the just-right rifle or shotgun.
If fishing tackle is the target, then the gift-giver needs to know the species most targeted by the angler. We’re blessed with having freshwater, brackish water and saltwater fishing opportunities in our state, and, fortunately, anglers can use the same tackle for targeting bass, speckled trout, redfish and other species. So finding enough rods and tackle for sac-a-lait and other panfish is easy enough.
Most times, the best advice is a gift card. It allows the fishermen to select what he or she prefers in the lines of rods, reels, tackle boxes and the tackle to fill that box.
A couple of new fishing items might help.
Ugly Stick came out with a new graphite spinning and casting rods, the Carbon Series, earlier this year, and the $80 price point means it's affordable for most fishing folks.
And, H&H Lures introduced its Pro Sac-a-lait Slayer Spin (13 colors). Another is a unique H&H Christmas Stocking. Both are available on its website.
Had a handful of calls this last week about basic outdoors books.
Hot off the press is “50 Things to do in The Wild,” by Richard Skrein. Books like this are fascinating treks back to the days when folks had to develop survival and woodsmanship skills. Skrein shows how to make bows and arrows, a fishing net, candles, fires and fire logs and basic tools you need anywhere in the outdoors. It’s a valuable addition to any collection of survival volumes.
For deer hunters, “Louisiana Whitetails,” by legendary wildlife biologist David Moreland is must read.
For fishermen, “Specks,” by Todd Masson and “Trout Masters,” by Jerald Horst deliver valuable info on speckled trout in our state; “Knowing Bass: The Scientific Approach to Catching More Fish,” by fisheries professor Keith Jones was highly valued for understanding this most sought-after freshwater species; and, “250 Incredible Fishing Tips,” by Lamar Underwood kept me reading for days.
There’s more: first aid kits; warm (wool is best) stocking caps, socks, gloves and underwear; handwarmers; a small charging unit for a cell phone (handy in a boat, blind or deer stand); knife and hook sharpeners; and, signaling flashlights, the kind a hunter can hang in a tree to better relocate downed game or to signal for help.
Here’s hoping the opening weeks of this deer season went well for you, and you’ve got wholesome venison in your freezer, or soon will.
If you have and want to consider helping the less fortunate among us — and that number is swelling by the day — then consider the second phase of the statewide Hunters for the Hungry program.
It’s donating a freshly taken deer.
No, H4H is not asking for you to take from your family. This is about the excess, deer you take but cannot use while the venison is wholesome food.
There are 55 processors across Louisiana, businesses which will turn your deer into protein for soup kitchens and other shelters.
H4H suggests you can keep the backstrap and tenderloins, and some of the processors need you only to field dress the deer before turning it over to them. The venison stays in the communities served by the processors, of which there are 30 across south Louisiana and two in Natchez.
The second phase collected more than 800 deer statewide last season, and the need is greater this year.
For details go to this website: h4hla.org.