ESCANABA - Only one week from today we'll be celebrating another Christmas Day. While set aside to honor the birth of Jesus Christ, it is also a time for fellowship of family and friends, including the exchanging of gifts.
Some measure their pleasure on how much they get. I can tell you my fondest gift memories are those I received and carried through my years of outdoors experiences. Living in Michigan has been a gift that keeps giving for life.
There are so many gadgets on the market today related to the outdoors experience, especially hunting. The equipment stage is but one of five stages usually experienced in the life of a hunter. Periodically I'll receive a new sample product to try out and I can say I've seen some dandies.
Over the years I'd rank the top three as follows:
Made here in the UP, the Nelson Paint Co., of Kingsford developed a side product which, instead of being filled with paint, carried a liquid to mimic a variety of scents when shot against a solid object that included apple, acorn and dirt. They were to be either a lure scent or for masking human odor.
A call developed a few years back by AWAY Calls of lower Michigan simulates the call of a sandhill crane. Cranes co-habitate with the wild turkey and the call is used to locate turkeys while on the roost. There are other types of calls that include owl and crow, however those birds co-habitate with the turkey and at times may very well send them in the opposite direction when used.
Most recently, I was given a new product from Hunter Specialties. It's not a call as much as it is a lure. The device is held between your fingers and thumb and when compressed, emits a noise that is supposed to replicate the sound of a deer eating either corn or acorns. It is supposed to put a deer at ease in that the noise they heard or slight movement they saw is just another deer feeding..
There are a lot of items that can be of use to any outdoors person and would make for a wonderful gift.
In teaching hunter safety and ATV safety classes, one of the things we stress to new hunters and riders is the need to be prepared for events and circumstances especially dealing with injury and survival.
Students are told they should always carry a day pack afield regardless of the length or area of travel. You never know when you might experience some type of problem and should have a minimum of supplies to help get you through any situation.
Some of the items you could pick up to outfit your hunter's day pack including the pack itself, are a first aid kit, folding saw, vinyl parka, flashlight, hatchet, compass, knife and sharpener, rubber or vinyl gloves (for use field dressing and/or as a contamination barrier) and a nylon rope of at least 25 feet in length. A reflective (non-glass) mirror and loud whistle are handy to signal for help. Novice outdoors enthusiasts are taught how, in most cases, we can live for some period without food but not without water, so a container or canteen would also be handy for carry.
A means of carrying and protecting matches and fire starting material is also an essential part of survival gear. Extra gloves, socks and knit hat are good to have if you get wet. Ultimately, extra clothing would help given the limited space you have to carry any.
Underclothing today is designed in some cases to wick away moisture and combat the chances of becoming hypothermic when chilled. Wool clothing as an outer garment tends to protect from chilling, wet or dry.
The experienced archer or firearm hunter in your family that uses an elevated platform could be due for a new safety harness. Those produced years ago were made from a single strap, supposed to be secured under the armpits, but often used like a belt. These were determined to be dangerous and since have been replaced with four point harnesses including a vest-harness. Even the new harnesses can wear out and should be replaced at times.
For the fishing person in your home, you might consider outfitting them with some new tackle. There are always new lures being developed. One item that might be of interest is the new personal floatation device. The materials used are more of a space age quality and if you are a parent worried about your child venturing out to fish through the ice, they provide additional protection and can be worn under a coat. Ice cleats are also very useful and relatively inexpensive.
One last consideration for gift giving would be to buy one of the limited amount of raffle tickets from Big Brothers Big Sister of the Bay Area. This is a 52-gun raffle, one gun given away each week, with the winning number drawn off the Michigan Daily Three Lottery.
The cost is $50 with better odds than any other lottery game. Even if you win, your ticket goes back into the drum and remains eligible each remaining week throughout the year.
If you do win and don't want a gun, there is a $300 cash prize option. UP Whitetails Association is co-sponsoring the fund raising event and will provide some season related specials that include shotguns. You can contact them at (906)789-0060 or on the web at www.bbbsbayarea.org.
Tim Kobasic is the outdoors editor for KMB Broadcasting and host/producer for Tails & Trails Outdoor Radio, aired on six radio stations over three networks, Charter Communications cable and the Internet on Saturday mornings.