By Don Mallicoat- The Christmas shopping season is here. So what do you get for that hunter or angler in your family? Think about one word: useful. Most of my fellow outdoor people think in simple terms when it comes to gear. We want things we can use in the field. That said, be careful about certain items such as guns, camouflage clothing, or rods and reels. Unless they have stated a specific desire (i.e. wrote it down) you need to gather some information. There are some universal categories where you can’t go wrong. Let’s look at some for both the hunter and angler.
If the angler in your life likes to fly fish, consider an assortment of dry and wet flies for the coming season. Curtis Wright Outfitters or another of the local fly-fishing stores can help with the selection. Don’t get carried away though. After about ten flies you’ll find yourself in the $25 range. Trout nets get caught in brush and dinged so a new net may be in order. A new fly line might be needed but again be careful. Make sure to check the line weight on the rod and see what color the line is. We are always running out of leaders and tippet material. Maybe some dry fly dubbing or strike indicators for those nymphs. It never hurts to have a spare set of forceps for removing flies or a set of nail clippers for cutting line. There’s no telling how many of those are sitting on creek banks or at the bottom of streams.
For the hunter you have to think about what they like to hunt. .For the deer hunter, you might consider a box of cartridges or shells. Most hunters will go through a couple of boxes of cartridges during the off-season doing a little target practice. Go through their gear to see what caliber the rifle is and the bullet weight (usually expressed in grams). Don’t go into sticker shock when you see the price of one box of centerfire rifle cartridges. A case of target loads for the shotgun shooter isn’t that cheap either. How about some paper targets to practice on or a gun rest for the target range? Gun cleaning stuff like solvent and patches are always useful. Again, covert research in their outdoor gear may give you some leads.
Do a little shopping around for other things. How about some pocket hand warmers for the deer hunter that sits on the stand half the day? Well-made wool or polypropylene socks are also a nice gift item. Don’t get cotton. It doesn’t wick moisture away from the feet. If that hunter will be going out for turkey this spring, think about a new box or slate call. I’d stay away from buying mouth calls since there is a lot of personal preference behind those.
For the outdoors person in your life who has everything (or at least by your estimation) how about a membership in Trout Unlimited, National Wild Turkey Federation, Ruffed Grouse Society, or another conservation organization that supports their chosen pursuit? It’s one of the best bargains out there with a magazine and work going toward habitat improvement. There is one last recommendation: If you have a youth who is showing interest in the outdoors, consider a NC Sportsman Youth Lifetime Sportsman License. It isn’t cheap, but will provide a lifetime of enjoyment in the great outdoors. And it insures the future of the sport.
If you are working on your January 2017 calendar here is a date to mark down, January 17th. That is the date the NC WRC will be holding its annual public hearing for regulation changes at Haywood Community College. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. I mentioned in an earlier column about seeing some of the proposed changes in Commission agenda minutes. This will be a great one to attend if you can.
There are some significant changes ahead. Proposals include redefining youth as under 18 (now 16) to allow participation in Special youth hunting and fishing activities. There is also a proposal to eliminate the use of paper Big Game Harvest Records and report by phone on internet. Looks like we might also gain a new mountain Game Land: William H. Silver Game Land is 1.900 acres in Haywood County as six-day-per week and introductory either-sex deer season. This is a meeting worth attending!