If you're looking for outstanding gifts for the outdoors people in your life, you've come to the right place.
Because of the wide range of outdoors activities we cover in this section, our gift guides are thematic this year. The first theme is hunting.
Boots are essential hunting gear, and I've tried them all. My favorites are the Slovakian-made Lowa boots that I've worn this autumn.
My primary boot this fall is Lowa's flagship Renegade GTX. It features a Nubuck leather upper and Vibram EVO soles, with a water resistant Gore-Tex liner. My feet have remained dry through multiple creek crossings and from high-pressure water hose immersions while washing off deer blood.
In addition to a decent arch support, the Renegade GTX outsole also has an external frame that supports the outside of the arch. It reduces fatigue and allows you to walk all day over rugged terrain without soreness.
High-top boots usually tax my legs, but the Renegade supports the ankles solidly without the fatigue that high-tops usually convey.
I wear a 91/2 D. The Renegade GTX medium is sized perfectly. My feet slide inside effortlessly.
A very pleasant surprise is the Nabucco Evo GTX, one of Lowa's cold-weather boots.
The Nabucco does not have the Renegade's supportive outsole, but its Vibram Arctic Grip Trac II outsole is said to grip ice. I have not tested that claim, but I tested it on slick rocks in Arkansas and Oklahoma. Every hunter and hiker knows the perils of stepping on wet, flat rocks, especially on inclines. The Nabucco grabs slick surfaces, unlike the Renegade's traditional Vibram sole. If you prefer an all-season boot, the Renegade Evo GTX Ice also has the Artic Grip Trac II sole.
I am sorely tempted to use the Nabucco for wade fishing, but they are too nice for that. Another product in an upcoming fishing gift guide fills that role.
Also, the Nabucco features a Gore-Tex Partelana liner, which is very warm in addition to being waterproof, as well as an Insulate Pro insole. This combination kept my feet toasty while hunting in 17-degree weather in Oklahoma and 19-degree weather in Arkansas without using overly bulky socks.
For more information, visit lowaboots.com.
ATV Receiver Rack
Every deer hunter dreads hoisting a dead deer onto the deck of a four-wheeler or ATV.
A metal rack that slides into my four-wheeler's hitch receiver makes that job tons easier. It rides only 12 inches off the ground. That's a lot more manageable than trying to wrangle a dead deer 3 feet to the stern rack of my Suzuki Eiger 400.
These racks come in many configurations. My Haul Master rack from Harbor Freight Tools ($50) has a 300-pound capacity. It is 46 inches wide. The front end is open, saving you an extra 4 inches of height if you drag the deer onto the rack from the front of the rack. The wraparound rail holds the cargo securely.
This proved highly valuable when loading a 162-pound buck out of the woods Nov. 15. It took about 10 minutes to load and tie the buck. I would have been hard pressed to do it alone otherwise. Next to my game cart, this rack is some of the best money I've spent.
I wouldn't have killed the 162-pound buck without excellent binoculars. The "assist" goes to Bushnell Nitro, a high-performance 10x36 binocular designed for hunting.
I do not know enough about coatings and prisms to comment on Bushnell's technical specifications. I only know that the Nitro is an exceptionally clear binocular with outstanding resolution across the focal plane. It allowed me to determine in low light among competing linear and cross-linear woody elements that the buck had the requisite number of points. I also inspected a good number of other bucks with them at all times of the day during opening week of modern gun season. They also enabled me to distinguish the tiny points of a spike buck that could easily have been mistaken for a doe at 130 yards.
Another very nice feature is the EXO barrier that causes moisture to bead up on the glass. The unit is compact and very compatible to use with a body harness.
The Nitro is the middle of Bushnell's three-product lineup. For information, visit bushnell.com.
Being warm is essential to having fun, especially when duck hunting, and especially when sitting for hours in a deer stand.
Hot Hands disposable hand warmers are very popular, but a new product, Hot Hands Body Warmers, help heat the trunk. The Body Warmer is a large packet that's large enough to cover a significant portion of the chest area. One side is adhesive and sticks to the bottom layer of clothing. It begins generating heat when exposed to air.
On Nov. 12, when it was 19 degrees at dawn, I attached one each to the chest and back of my base layer. I also used hand warmers. They kept me very toasty and comfortable all day.
If you need a concentrated shot of warmth, all you have to do is cross your arms or lean back in a seat to press them closer to the flesh.
Also available are Hot Hands Foot Warmers and Insole Foot Warmers. These can be used with hunting boots and waders to eliminate discomfort from standing in freezing water.
Hunters are crazy not to use protective eyewear and hearing protection.
I write often about Oakley sunglasses. They are excellent for hunting, but their shatterproof polycarbonate lenses protect the eyes from stray shotgun pellets or, heaven forbid, blowback from a ruptured cartridge in a firearm chamber.
For hearing, I recommend Peltor Sport Tri-Flange Reusable Earplugs. Readily available locally, they are inexpensive and have a noise reduction rating of 26. They come three to a pack, so you can keep a set in a blind bag, game bird vest and deer hunting pack.
I wear a pair around my neck. When I am ready to shoot, I wet the plugs and plug them into the ears. A pack costs about $5.
Since January, the author has used Bushnell’s Nitro, a high-performance 10x36 binocular that is ideal for hunting.
A Haul Master ATV receiver hitch rack makes deer camp tasks easier. It is especially useful for hauling deer out of the woods.
Sports on 12/01/2019
Print Headline: Hunting gift guide