21st Century Gifts for the Outdoorsman

Outdoors with Forda Birds—By John Andreoni

I’ve been writing a Christmas gift column of some sort for half a century. Guess what? Things have changed a lot in 50 years. I yanked a column from December 1970 that pretty much reflects how simple things were back then. If you were a hunter, I suggested insulated clothes, a knife, hand-warmers, and shooting glasses. Fishermen needed a rod, reel, lures, or a tackle box. They had fish finders in 1970, but they were primitive and pricey. Boaters could always use fire extinguishers and life preservers, which included Coast Guard approved seat cushions. You could turn any boat into a fishing boat with swivel seats. All campers needed a Dutch oven and a lantern, and anyone who took pictures could always use film, an exposure meter, and an electronic flash. I wrapped up the column with the following advice to women: “Before a woman buys a major outdoor gift for her sportsman, she should contact one of his close companions or an expert in the field and get advice. Any smaller purchases that go with a sport can always be used and will probably mean much more than the fancy tie or an extra bottle of after-shave lotion.” If I wrote stuff like that today, I doubt if my writing career would have lasted this long. I learned about equal rights and respect for women from my mother, my wife, and also from women who could shoot straighter, catch more fish, walk faster, and climb higher than I could. I applied it faster than most.

Now, in 2019 I don’t know where to begin. There are still some good brick and mortar stores that carry outdoor equipment. On-line shopping grows more and more every year, and really gets attractive when packages show up in a day or two. Finding “stuff” isn’t the issue. What to buy is. Everything seems to be theme oriented. Back in the day, hunters always carried a possibles bag. It was designed to carry things you would probably need for a day’s hunt or a day on the water.

Today, you could be safe buying anything that had to do with survival. Everyone evidently needs a bug-out bag or go-bag. They’re long-term survival kits designed to help get you away from danger as fast and as safely as possible. Tactical flashlights, water purification gear, multi-tools, dehydrated foods, and anything else one would need while on the run make great gifts. Overkill? The government seems to think having such a kit is the prudent thing to do. No one knows for sure when a disaster might strike and having 72 hours of emergency supplies that can be tossed into a car or backpacked could save your family. Of course, some of the promotion used by the federal government and the Center for Disease Control suggest you prepare a go-bag in case of the Zombie Apocalypse. Evidently, fans of The Walking Dead pay more attention to that catastrophic scenario.

On the flip side, there are those who could care less about surviving a natural disaster. Gifting them is relatively easy to do. For example, check out the various Man Crates that are growing in popularity. If there’s a disaster, a man with a proper Man Crate could care less. If an asteroid was about to hit the planet, I could grab my bug-out bag and head for the hills. On the other hand, I could open a Man Crate I saved for special occasions. My Whiskey Appreciation Crate would be appropriate, and it would be even better if I also had an Exotic Meat Crate or the Cow-pocalypse Crate filled with my favorite jerky.

Shopping today is much more complicated. There are still some practical gifts that always work. All outdoorsmen will use a food saver or an electric fillet knife. Serious deer hunters who use trail cameras can always use an extra. They’re great for spotting and checking game. The extra one is great for catching the guy who steals your first one. A good tactical flashlight has a lot of merit if you night fish on GLSM or Indian Lake. It lets the party boaters know you’re close by.

If you’re totally lost, go to fordabirdsoutdoors.com and pick up copies of Going Wild with Forda Birds. Volume 1 – 4 are available now. The last volume should be available in early 2020. When finished, the books will cover what was moving and shaking outdoors over the last 50 years. It’s okay to live in “what’s happening now.” It’s also wise to know “how it was.”

The bottom line is that in 2019 you can find whatever you’re looking for and have it sitting on your front porch in no time. Oh yes, I forgot. You have to watch out for the porch pirates. We didn’t have to do that back in 1970.