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OUTDOORS: The clock is ticking for Christmas ideas

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WORTHINGTON -- With only two weeks between now and the big day, some of you may still be wondering what to get your outdoor guy or gal. If your gift recipient is a rider or passenger of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle then this problem is quite a bit easier. Harley clothing is almost universally loved if you ride this make of bike.

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If your outdoor explorer does not ride a bike, then I have a few other ideas you might consider for the gifts that almost any outdoor enthusiast would like.

The first item on my favorite gift list is Under Armour. This is a high-end clothing line that is considered top-shelf by almost all hunters, fishermen, hikers and campers alike. It is most widely recognized for its cold weather gear. Under Armour offers many styles and sizes of long underwear and other cold weather apparel, and almost all of their products are available in three different temperature weights.

They are the king in multi-layering and offer the ability to mix and match different weights and fits. They offer compression fit long underwear, which is a very tight-fitting under layer and is supposed to be the warmest kind available. It is not a great choice for most people. Unless you are a body builder, the tight fit compresses fabric into every nook and cranny of the body and uncomfortable binding can result. I look like the Michelin Man in compression fit long underwear. Buy the regular fit for your guy or gal. The cost is challenging for some buyers -- the average cost for each piece is about $55, bringing a top and bottom to $100. It is worth the cost even if you only get one item at a time.

The second gift item all outdoor folks should have is a bunny rabbit bomber hat. I don't care if you are sitting in a deer stand or blowing snow, these are a great brain warmer for all who wear them. Not everyone will be seen in public with a rabbit fur-lined hat with full-sized ear flaps that also cover the wearer's neck. But if a little ribbing is OK with you, then there is no better outdoor hat for extreme cold.

If you want to buy one of these hats, make sure to get the one that has clips sewn into the chin strap. They normally tie under your chin and not everyone can tie a bow under their chin with mittens or gloves on. The clip is adjustable and can be manipulated even with gloves on. I have an orange one that is missing the little brim it came with. Harley the black lab removed the little brim last year when I was not paying enough attention.

The last item on my Christmas gift list is for when the season is over. Pheasant season ends on Jan. 2, and that leaves all winter with much less hunting opportunity. Consider purchasing a membership to one or more of the conservation organizations that does work in your area. The best known include Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, National Wild Turkey Federation, but there are many more.

A membership usually costs about $35 per year and comes with a quarterly magazine. These are really great reading when the wind is howling outside. If your gift receiver is already a member, consider upgrading them to a higher level. A Life Membership at Pheasants Forever is $1,000, includes a life member leather jacket and can be paid monthly if desired. All of the others have similar programs. You can even make your dog a life member at PF for $500, and that includes a new electronic training collar. You can contact me at rall@knology.net if you need help finding the right numbers to call.

If all else fails, a gift certificate to one or more quality sporting goods stores will suffice. Make this holiday season memorable by exposing someone new to the outdoors. Take a kid snowshoeing in a wildlife area and teach them a little about what it takes for wildlife to survive a Minnesota winter. Even a 45 minute heated wildlife ride (car ride 30 minutes before sunset) can allow you the opportunity to see wildlife and appreciate the beautiful wonders of nature and Gods' creatures.

Make this season about more than just great gifts, although they are fun to get. Share an outdoor experience on a cold, crisp winter evening with a friend, neighbor or your sweetie and take a moment to watch your breath, see the stars and just be still. You will most likely feel really little and really great all at the same time.

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