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Time can be one of the best gifts for a hunter

WORTHINGTON -- With more than two weeks until Christmas, there is no reason to get too excited yet about shopping for your outdoor enthusiast.

I think that the best shopping can be done in the last part of the month. This is when I am most successful. I do have a few unusual ideas for the hunter of fisherman on your list. If you like any of my ideas you may have to start a little sooner than normal in order to make the holiday deadline.

My wish list items are not of the normal generic variety. All I can tell you is that I either have these items already or really wish that I did.

The first item is a must for all serious waterfowl hunters or fisherman. Many boating accidents end badly because although a life jacket is required for all persons in the boat they are not required to be worn. The only way that they have value is if your loved one is wearing one when they go over. The way to accomplish this is to get them a personal floatation device that they will actually wear. In order to do this, it has to be comfortable and light weight.

The best way to accomplish the desired result is to buy them an inflatable life jacket. These units look almost like a pair of suspenders under normal conditions and automatically inflate if the wearer falls in the drink. They can also be inflated manually but I can't think of a reason that you might want to do that. They cost around $100, and that's a lot of coin, but worth every penny when the chips are down.

For the pheasant hunter on your list a pair of waterproof chaps is just the ticket. They look like someone cut the legs off a pair of pants and are worn over your regular hunting pants. Most are made of a waxed canvass or similar product. They keep your pants dry when there is rain, snow or ice in the grass and save you a lot of time because the stickers and thorns don't stick to them.

This insures that no precious hunting time is wasted manually picking the stickers out of your pants after you have washed them three times because the prickles have still not come out. They make hunting pants with nylon fronts, but they just don't measure up to a good pair of chaps. They cost about $50 and will last about five years under normal hunting conditions.

I have received no less than 10 pair of long underwear in my 46 years of existence and until you get a pair of these babies made by Under Armour, you just haven lived. With conventional long underwear, you spend all day thinking about just how badly you want to pull the ankle cuffs back down to where they belong from their normal position just below your knee cap. I had a hard time spending $50 for each piece but when I finally did, I had no trouble deciding that it was worth it.

There are two styles to choose from. One I call normal fit and the other is called a compression fit. The compression fit is a lot warmer but they are too hot for anything more than minimal exertion. If you opt for the compression fit you will want to dress and undress in total seclusion because these will make it completely obvious that you are not in as good as shape as you thought you were.

The last gift on the list is your time. This gift can not be bought which makes it the most valuable gift that you can give. I was lucky enough again this year to take my 73-year old dad on a family pheasant hunt to Leola, S.D., a few weeks ago with my brother McChyne. Even though dad couldn't walk in the high grass he still had a great time following along in the truck and participating in the conversations that followed at the local watering hole. I was also fortunate enough to meet a new friend by the name of Eric Dalgren, and we spend a similar day with his family which included his dad, Stan Dalgren, who I think is about 76 years young. It was a truly great day and my sincere pleasure to help them enjoy a quality outdoor experience with those who appreciate it most, family and friends.

Shop till you drop but try not to forget the real reason behind Christmas. Great hunting and fishing gifts are cool but the best gift of all is keeping the ones you care about the most very close. Here is to good shopping and great hunting!!!