Wolf Tracks

Some gift ideas for the outdoorsmen and women in the family.

Dave Wolf/For The Sentinel

With the deer rifle season now in the rearview mirror, I glance at the calendar where I chart things that need to be accomplished, and “X” off those things I have completed.

In my failed attempts to keep commercialism out of Christmas and all religious holidays, I’m slapped with the reality that Christmas Day is less than a week away.

I’ve ignored Black Friday and Cyber Monday; days that fall on or too close to those hunting seasons I prefer over shopping. Honestly, there are few things I do not prefer over shopping.

I could blame it on my parents, as most people are inclined to do when confronted with their faults. Like many children, I was dragged through the malls by my mother, and then on Christmas Eve, my father and I would marathon shop at every antique dealer my dad could find. We usually arrived home well after midnight, with presents to be wrapped, and the age-old question, will they like whatever it was we bought?

Seeing the panic in the eyes of those shoppers is like looking in the mirror. My hands perspire, my shoulders tighten, and I wonder aloud what it’s all about. Yes, I’m a religious person, finding that the reasons we originally celebrated religious holidays has been lost somewhere in our past.

I, like many others, have searched for that perfect gift, and have found it more elusive than the largest whitetail deer. There is a fine line between what we need and what we want — and frankly, with few exceptions, there is little I need.

Despite the fact that more of my gifts have been returned than used, I will offer what I think would be great gifts for the holidays without breaking your budget.

The first on my list would be a calendar, like the one that hangs over my desk, with dates and assignments scribbled into the appropriate boxes. Some are free, others will cost you, but for me it’s something that is used every day of the year. Choose the recipient’s favorite theme, and it’s doubtful you can go wrong.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission has a number of offerings that just might fit the bill. Although not everyone likes to cook, the new Game Cookbook revives a classic publication readers have been clamoring for since the printing of the first edition, published in 1979.

A handful of popular recipes from the original cookbook are republished in this second edition, but for the most part, the Game Cookbook represents a whole new batch of tasty recipes. From groundhog meatballs to pheasant cordon bleu casserole, and nearly 70 venison recipes, the Game Cookbook offers tried and true insight into some of the best ways to prepare Pennsylvania’s abundant wild game.

The cookbook also features color illustrations on how to clean and prepare wild game for cooking, as well captivating artwork by wildlife artist Doug Pifer. The spiral binding and high-gloss paper create a cookbook that can be used with ease in the kitchen for years to come.

“Pennsylvania Deer Hunting, Through the Pages of Game News” is a collection of classic deer-hunting stories that have been published over the years in Pennsylvania Game News magazine. The 174-page collection was compiled by Pennsylvania outdoor writer Tyler Frantz and sells for $15.50.

Also popular this holiday season is the 2014 edition of the “Pennsylvania Big Game Records Book,” which this year is printed in color and contains photos of many of the new entries. The hardcover and soft-cover editions of “Gone for Another Day,” the recent sequel to the classic Ned Smith compilation, are available as well.

There are many new collectible patches, including the nine-patch Youth Hunt series, the 2014 Elk Hunt patch, the 2015 Field Notes patch and the 2015 Working Together for Wildlife patch featuring a groundhog.

All orders, including the calendar, a subscription to Game News, and much more is available through The Outdoor Shop at the Game Commission’s website, www.pgc.state.pa.us, or by calling toll-free 1-888-888-3459.

Perhaps one of the better gifts to be found is a “gift card” to one of the shops or companies offering a wide variety of outdoor gifts and apparel. There is little room for mistake when purchasing a gift card, but it may not seem very personal, and the recipient will know how much you have spent on the card.

There is a wide variety of items that outdoor people should love. A good pair of binoculars, for example, can be enjoyed by everyone from bird watchers to hunters. A pair of waterproof boots is a great choice if you know the size, but if you decide to purchase a pair, make sure they can be returned, and always keep the receipt for this item and any others you purchase.

Anything in florescent orange or camouflage is usually a hit, worn by both hunter and nonhunter alike. Although some may stay inside most of the winter, there are many people who get out there all year long.

Gloves, knit caps, hand-warmers and good wool socks are all appreciated. There are trail cams, tree stands, ground blinds, tents, sleeping bags, kayaks, canoes or maybe a life vest that needs to be replaced.

Some outdoor people are fussy about what they use. For example, I know exactly what kind of powder and primers I use in my inline rifle and what bolts and arrow heads I prefer; in this case money or a gift card would be preferred.

Speaking of that green stuff that seems to be outdated, my grandfather and later my father would always place cash in an envelope and hand it to us on Christmas morning. I know that my grandfather never shopped for gifts, so he never experienced the crowds or stress of shopping, and never did I hear of anyone returning his gifts.

Another great idea is to buy or renew their subscription to this newspaper and magazines they enjoy reading. Remember, a long winter is ahead of us, and reading is something most enjoy.

Dave Wolf may be reached by email at wolfang418@msn.com.

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