Searching for the perfect sportsman’s Christmas gift

With all the outdoor items out there for sportsmen, getting a thumbs up on just the right Christmas gift isn’t easy.

And a very Merry C…, er, buying month, to you and yours.

There’s a wish to extend to all readers, and lovers of our Sportsman’s Paradise, a bit of joy to be found in the upcoming “season” — I prefer Merry Christmas — but the “woke” folks believe it should be “Happy Holidays.”

For lots of folks you and I know, it’s weeks of agonizing over the just-right gift for your favorite outdoors person.

This examination of choosing a can’t-miss gift comes amid frets over dwin-dling personal resources, supply chain problems, and inflation we haven’t seen in a generation. Okay, enough already! No need to infect what should be the happiest time of any year with a dour outlook.

One constant

After writing about outdoor gifts for more than 30 years, there’s one constant, that being you need to do your homework to pick just one top-drawer item for your hunter or fisher.

For instance, buying a casting reel, a fishing rod, fishing line, tackle boxes and/or a handful of high-dollar lures comes with a risk of getting the wrong gift. Fishermen are fickle folks, very particular about these things. So, you have to keep your eyes and ears open to your angler’s oohs and aahs when he or she is strolling through a tackle shop.

Or, seek out their favorite fishing companion and find out what he or she has mentioned that could send their angling heart into piscatorial heaven.

Same’s true for hunters, a group much more diverse than fishing folks because there is so much more on their plate than freshwater or saltwater fishing options.

Deer, squirrel and rabbit, upland game like doves and quail, and the folks who occupy blinds for ducks and geese present a whole new set of problems and challenges.

Ammo up

This year it’s enough to know our country is in the first stages of coming through an ammunition shortage. Every hunter has their favorite rifle and/or primitive weapons cartridge, and shotgunners almost always have a favorite shotshell to take their quarry.

Again, find their hunting buddy. It’s 99% sure they’ll know what ammo your hunter prefers. This get tricky because you have to know the caliber of their hunting rifle, the grains-weight of the bullet they prefer and the brand.

Yes, it’s that specific, and with supplies short on some calibers, you’ll need to start early to find that just-right bullet. You can start with local shops, or the big-box stores. If you strike out there, there’s always the Internet. You’ll need to contend with shipping and making sure you get delivery before you have to wrap and get it under the tree. And don’t trust them with last-minute deliveries.

Years ago, bullets and shotshells would have been an inexpensive gift. Not now. Premium cartridges for my .308 rifle cost less than $20 for 20 rounds. Today, you’ll pay at least 50% more, maybe double. Know, too, that popular calibers, .308, .30-06, .270 and .243, will be easier to find than some heavier caliber rounds. That’s because manufacturers identified the most popular calibers and set production to supply most hunters.

Shotshells are the same. Local shop like Hebert’s in Prairieville, Simmons in Bastrop, Lafayette Shooters (where else but Lafayette), Bowie Outfitters in Baton Rouge and Lake Charles and Puglia’s in Metairie said they were well stocked on shells for waterfowl hunters, and the consensus was to make sure to stock up early because suppliers might be unable to provide shells later in the season.

You can take the same steps for yours who like to head to sporting clays, skeet and trap fields. These folks were scrambling for shells during the last 18 months. Supplies are better today.

The good part about ammo is you can tailor your gift amount to the number of boxes you can afford.

No, not this

Clothing, including camo hunting wear, vests, socks, etc. is something you shouldn’t buy. There are more camo patterns than you can imagine and know each hunter has a preference. If there’s one rule you should follow, it is to stay away from buying cotton clothing for winter wear. Wool and new synthetics provide more warmth in deer stands and duck blinds, and for those wintertime excursions in search of speckled trout and redfish.

If you know your “fav” wants a new hunting coat, or needs any other appar-el, then there’s a gift card. Most local shops and all the big-box stores have gift certificates covering amounts you want to spend.

It’s here where we need to talk about buying a youngster his or her first rifle or shotgun. You need to make sure the firearm “fits.” There’s no need to give a gift that will have to sit in a gun safe for a couple of years until the youngster grows into it. Know, too, there’s a responsibility that goes with this gift. Firearms safety, proper handling and hunting ethics are the main points of a hunter safety course. And, for the 10-and-older crowd of young hunters, a hunter safety certificate is needed to hunt deer and to get the new $5 youth deer license.

There’s always a gift card. Or maybe an extended subscription to some fine Louisiana hunting and fishing monthly magazine published in Boutte.

Or, you can take the time to pass along your knowledge of our outdoors to younger folks. It’s inexpensive. And it lasts a long, long time. Maybe, this year, your time afield or on the water is more valuable.

So, Ho, Ho, Ho, and hope this Christmas is not a ho, ho, ho, OH NO!

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