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Scott Rall: Outdoors gifts of all kinds this season


The Globe outdoors columnist

I could have written this column a few weeks back, but if you or your outdoor person is anything like me, Christmas shopping is not really started for the season until the muzzle loader deer season closes -- which was last Sunday. Now is crunch time, and if you wait just a little longer you might even get a better deal.

There are five potential items on my Christmas list for your outdoor enthusiast. The first of those is the least expensive on my list and it is a Under Armor neck gaiter.

It is called a cold gear infrared tactical hood. It is designed for runners who think running in the 35-mph wind at minus-5 degrees the perfect thing to do. This hood/neck gaiter is really thin. It covers your head and neck and even allows you to cover your mouth and nose if you want. I don’t know the technical terms for it, but is has some kind metallic fibers in it that absorb heat and hold it.

The reason it is perfect for the outdoors person is that because it is very thin you can still hear very well while wearing it.  The sound of pheasant wings flapping is the first indication, in many cases, of the bird’s presence. Being able to hear these wings is critical to me. I can wear a ball cap over this hood and hunt in the stiffest of conditions.  They cost about $35 and I would not be without one.

Second on the list is a subscription to Outdoor News.  I read all kinds of outdoor publications but if I could pick only one it would be this one.  A yearly subscription is about $55. They cover the issues surrounding our natural resources, legislative issues, how-to articles and much more, and it comes every week.  Fifty-two issues for about a buck each. If your gift recipient wants to know what’s going on, this is a great way to help them do it.

The truck I drive is a dog truck.  It has a stainless steel 6-hole dog box on the back and it stays there year round.  The pheasant hunting season ends on Jan. 1, and by the time I get to that date the inside of my truck looks a lot like the outside of my truck. I suck at detailing an interior.

Me and toothbrushes in the defrost vents really is not my style. I received a gift from a friend once that was a complete interior detail of my truck. I called the place and they picked up my ride and returned it when they were done, and the inside of my truck now looks like the inside of a new truck.

It was done at Graham Tire in Worthington. I can’t promise that yours will cost the same because it depends on how long it takes, but for the $75 they charged for my first one and the same fee for the second and third time is so well worth it. You will make someone’s day if they get it for Christmas.

The fourth item I have only had for myself for about two weeks, but that’s all the time it took for me to know that it was the very best one of its kind I have ever had.  It is a pair of hunting pants from a company called Orvis. The name for these pants is Upland Hunting Soft Shell Pants.

Most hunters need a pair of waterproof pants. They in actuality are pretty hard to come by.  You can buy rain pants that cannot hold up the brush, sticks and grasses a hunter wanders around in. You can buy a pair of gortex-lined pants, but the first time you kneel down to pick something up you put a hole in the water proof liner in the knee and they are toast.

You can wear jeans and a set of waterproof chaps, but last weekend with all the frost on the grass the snow fell down the tops of the chaps and your legs get soaked anyway. The pants are very light but warm. They have a built-in gaiter in the bottom to keep the snow from puffing up the back of your calf.

There are only two drawbacks to the gift item.  The first is that they cost $175 a pair. The second it that the longest inseam available is 34 inches.  That’s too short for many of my hunting partners. Like Doug Tate. Being 6’6” tall is not always a positive.

The last item on my wish list is a set of Insti-Fit electronic hearing electronic protection from Sound Gear. I wear hearing protection when I shoot trap or sporting clays where you can shoot 50-150 rounds in an afternoon, but I don’t wear hearing protection when I am out hunting.

As I mentioned earlier, I really want to be able to hear the flap of a pheasant’s wings when they lift off.  Regular ear plugs would kill the ability to do that.

These are different in that they actually amplify the weaker sounds to allow you to hear them better but they don’t allow the loud sounds to damage your hearing when the gun goes off. I don’t know how they work, I just know they work. I have tested them out at a National Pheasants Forever Gun review event a few years back.

Nicholas Raymo of South West Hearing Technologies in Worthington is the local dealer and I visited with him. They would cost about $300. I know the price can be out of reach for some, but in the end, I figure that being able to hear when you’re old might be worth the investment now.  I am working with Nick on a higher end custom molded set for me that can do an even better job.

Maybe one of these ideas can help you finish up your shopping. In the end, gifts are great but a life filled with family, friends and God is the best gift of all.