It's the time of year when hunters start ringing their hands together in anticipation of what we might find under the tree. We pine for that scope with the unearthly light-gathering capabilities, a tree stand with an extra cushy seat and toasty neoprene waders (because our old ones have an irritating little hole).
When it comes to equipment for this sport, it's always best to buy quality, whatever your price point may be. A set of $20 binoculars will soon end up in the garage sale box. The items you choose will be used year after year, most likely for a lifetime. Buy once and buy well.
Reconyx Hyperfire Scouting Camera
A friend of mine sent me some snaps that were captured with this camera. That's all it took to add this beauty to my list. It can shoot up to 40,000 images on the battery before it needs to be changed. Get images from as far as 50 feet away at night. It accepts up to a 32GB card. I should warn you that it may be heartbreaking to see that big buck in photographs only, because he many never walk under your stand while you're there.
$499.99 and $599.99. At Cabela's, 1300 Ellice Ave., (204) 786-8966
Youth Hunting Jacket by Remington
It's easy for your young hunter to get discouraged if she's cold and uncomfortable. Invest in a good quality jacket that's waterproof, breathable and wind proof. The side entry pockets have soft fabric inside to keep hands warm. There are lots of zippers and snaps to bundle up and block out the cold and wind.
$119.99. At Cabela's, 1300 Ellice Ave., (204) 786-8966
Women's Woody Max Muck Boots
The right footwear can make or break your entire hunting day, so choose wisely. I can personally vouch for these boots--they feel more like slippers. Even when frostbite is slowly nipping at the exposed skin on my face, my toes are toasty thanks to the -40C rating. They're waterproof, lightweight and flexible. The breathable lining wicks away humidity and perspiration, and that's the trick to keeping your feet warm and dry.
$159.99 At Cabela's, 1300 Ellice Ave., (204) 786-8966
DMT Diafold Combination Fine/Coarse Sharpener
Rob Olson, president of Delta Waterfowl has some gift advice. "A knife sharpener, nobody seems to have one handy. It's a great gift or stocking stuffer and by extension, nobody can have too many good knives." This combination coarse- and fine-grit diamond whetstone should do the trick. It's small enough to keep in your pocket or backpack when you need to add a little edge.
At Mountain Equipment Co-op, 303 Portage Ave., (204) 943-4202
Bushnell Trophy Rangefinder
You might think you're a good judge of distance, but you probably aren't. I quickly learned how failing light and different coloured backgrounds can throw your instincts way out of whack. I need a rangefinder. And so does the hunter on your list. This one measures distances between five and 999 yards, it has rain and reflector modes and an instant read-out at the push of a button.
$299.99. At Canadian Tire
Bradley Original Smoker
The more I watch those Food Network shows about barbecuing, the more I want to play with my smoker. This one has an electric feeder that drops flavour pucks that burn for 20 minutes each so that the temperature doesn't fluctuate. You get clean smoke for up to eight hours without constant babysitting. I know several professional chefs that use this system.
$379.99. At Cabela's, 1300 Ellice Ave., (204) 786-8966.