Outdoors With Craig Robbins

Christmas Ideas For Your Favorite Sportsman, Sportswoman

It seems the older I get the more excited I am about Christmas. Some would say it is my favorite time of year. When I asked a friend of mine one time what her favorite holiday is she said “Christmas. It is not because of all the gifts and the like but it’s because of family. I truly enjoy when my entire family is around. For me that is the true meaning of Christmas.”

I say with a tear in my eye, Here Here.

With that being said, along with spending time with family and friends, it’s also a good time to share a special gift with those you love. As has been the tradition for over 20 years, I have looked long and hard for those gifts that any sportsman or sportswoman would be pleased to find under the tree.

¯ I’ve used a SmokinTex electric smoker for almost a decade now and it works as well today as when it was brand new. Granted, it doesn’t look new any longer. Through the years, I have smoked hundreds of pounds of meat on my smoker. Anyone can become an outdoor cooking expert with a SmokinTex. You simply add small pieces of wood to the wood box, put the meat in, set the temperature and let it cook until it’s fall-off-the-bone tender.

If you are going to starting smoking meats, and I strongly encouraged it, you will need the proper seasonings. My go-to place for ordering seasonings and cures or just about anything else I need for outdoor cooking is Butcher & Packer Supply Co. Check it out on the Web. The company offers different products that make outdoor cooking easier. If you are a home sausage maker, make sure and order a few packets of sausage seasoning or try one of the cures for making ham at home.

¯ It’s no secret that hunting from a pop-up style ground blind has become increasely popular. The folks at TrueTimber have developed a great blind that I have used in all conditions and hunting situations.

The V1 5-Hub Ground Blind HTC Fall pattern offers quick setup and takedown, with ground stakes, convenient backpack-style carrying case, 360-degree windows for maximum shooting range, hook-and-loop enclosures and measures a big 55-by-68-by-61 inches and weighs in at only 14 pounds. The V1 5-Hub is easily one of the most popular blinds. This fast-action ground blinds can be set-up anywhere. It stores easily and comes with a heavy duty carrying case to pack into the field.

¯ Today’s PCP air rifles that pressure up to 3,000 via a fiber carbon or scuba tank are a far cry from the pump-up airguns many of us grew up shooting. The Texan in .45 caliber delivers 500-foot pounds of energy when shooting a 350-grain bullet. The company also offers the Condor in .22 or .25 caliber. These are serious, well designed and constructed rifles.

¯ Calling and rattling in monster bucks is nothing new, but the Rattling Forks are. These unconventional looking “forks” are much thicker than conventional rattling antlers and they produce sound that carries for great distances. I started using mine this past season and found them to be highly effective. They make a great Christmas gift for any serious deer hunter.

¯ Clothing for lady hunters is becoming very specific, as it should be, and this year the folks at Ridge Reaper were kind enough to listen to anti-pink spiel when the topic arises, but I’m sure there is some benefit to the ever-present pink logos, zippers, and contrast-stitching on women’s camo — no one is going to put on the wrong jacket unless you get dressed in the dark.

Color choices aside, there are some very thoughtful details on the Ridge Reaper hunting jacket, like the drawstring-waist, unfloppy pull cords on the slightly billed hood, and an extra-long zipper on the forearm of the sleeve. These features keep the garment closer to the body in spots where heat can escape and ensure that it won’t make noise as you move in the woods. This is definitely a costly item, but you are paying for fabric technology, which allows this jacket to be thin and lightweight, yet warm, plus moisture-wicking, waterproof, and scent-controlled. From what I have been told if your wife, daughter, or girlfriend is a hunter with a Pinterest account, I guarantee they have already saved this product to some sort of wish list.

¯ The same fabric makes the Ridge Reaper pants warm and sturdy. I like that I can move in them yet they don’t feel like pajamas, and they have a pretty contemporary fit for a hunting pant — and by that, I mean that the waistband does not sit above my belly button, yet I can still crouch down without gaping in the back. If you are going to gift either of these items to the outdoorswoman in your life, don’t assume that this gear runs a little big, as I do with most other brands. Under Armour bases their fit on athletic wear, so double check the size chart before you buy.

¯ There is nothing like a pair of gloves. Finding the proper fitting for the job at hand-no pun intended can be difficult. The folks at Mechanix got their start as hand protection for NASCAR mechanics that allowed their hands to feel enough to handle tools and small parts.

Once Mechanix started offering their original gloves in Mossy Oak, they became a staple for my deer pack and turkey vest.

Recently, I got to try out a couple of their other models, now offered in a Mossy Oak pattern, and they don’t disappoint. The M-Pact glove has a rubberized grip on the thumb, trigger finger, and palm that make handling a firearm feel as natural as it can while gloved. There are also panels of foam in the palm that absorb shock and vibration while working with tools, which helps stave off hand fatigue. They’re well made with rubber knuckles that will protect against any bangs or scrapes. They’re a bit stiff when brand new, but after you wear them a bit, they break right in.

Mechanix Winter Armor are nice warm gloves for moderately low temperatures that don’t make me feel like I’m wearing mittens. I hate bulky cold weather gloves, and these are the slimmest I’ve worn, while still providing padding, protection, and insulation.

¯ For a man’s best friend, a hard-charging hunting dog’s chest can take a beating in the field. Corn stubble, thorns, plum thickets and other vegetation can bruise, poke, scratch or lacerate as a dog runs over and through cover. The Filson Dog Chest Protector is constructed of a double layer of Filson’s famous Tin Cloth, and the open-back design helps keep dogs from overheating when the temperature rises.

¯ From our friends at Hawke Optics the Lazer Range Finder Pro 900 offers fully multi-coated optical system, BK-7 prisms, 6-time magnification and an adjustable diopter, which ergonomically designed to fit in your hand, twist-up eye cup to ensure proper eye relief, beeline/height/angle mode — accurate to +/- 1m and an auto shutoff battery-save feature.

I have personally waited for three years for Hawke to offer trail cameras and I was not disappointed when I first laid my hands on the 14MP at the AWO Show this past January and found them to be equally trustworthy in the field. Hawke’s Nature Camera 14MP offers selectable resolution for photos and video, infrared LEDs to capture images and videos at night, display screen to edit settings in the field, wide angle PIR sensor (motion detector), burst, time-lapse, time delay and duty time modes date, time, temperature and moon phase stamp and robust and compact design which is weatherproof.

Well there you have it, some out-of-the-box ideas for your favorite sportsman or sportswoman. Remember though the best gifts often are not the ones that can purchased but come from the heart.