What do you get the outdoors person on your holiday gift list?
Well, like many Americans, you can go for stuff that features the latest technological advances, such as lightweight, fast-retrieve fishing reels, handheld GPS units, camouflage clothing that eliminates human scent and pocket-sized digital cameras that record everything from notable catches to scenic vistas.
But the good thing about shopping for anglers, divers, paddlers, campers, boaters, hikers and hunters is that they can always use the basics such as hooks, knives, life jackets, bullets, tarps and socks. If technology has improved those basics, that makes for an even better gift.
The following are items that my friends and I have tried out this year that most outdoors people would be thrilled to receive:
All of them need a sharp knife, whether it’s to fillet the day’s catch, cut rope, fashion a walking stick or breast out a ring-necked duck.
Keeping your knife sharp is easy with the Chef’sChoice Model 130 electric knife sharpener. The newest model in the Pennsylvania company’s line of sharpeners, the M130 sharpens, steels and strops all types of knives, including those with serrated blades.
Instead of messing with sharpening stones and oil, all you have to do is turn on the M130 and pull the knife blade through the guides, which are positioned at the proper angle to produce the sharpest edge possible. My fishing and hunting companions often comment on how sharp my knives are when they use them to fillet fish or skin a wild hog.
If you have a big fillet or skinning job, you can just touch up the blade by pulling it through the stropping guides to keep it super sharp.
The M130 also is handy for sharpening steak and kitchen knives. The cost ranges from $150 to $170.
If you need precision slicing, try the Chef’sChoice Model 640 electric slicer. I use mine to make three-eighths-inch-thick slices of venison that I marinate and then dehydrate to make jerky.
The powerful, easy to use M640 can also be used to slice hams and turkey breasts, as well as cheese and fruit.
Proper field dressing of the white-tailed deer and wild hogs that you shoot goes a long way toward making the venison and pork that you eat taste good. Thanks to the new Hunter’s Specialties Butt Out, one of the worst parts of field dressing is now a lot easier and safer.
The Butt Out big-game field dressing tool is used to remove the anal alimentary canal of a deer or hog. Instead of using a knife to cut around the canal and having waste products taint the flesh of the animal, the Butt Out pulls out the canal so it can be tied off by the hunter and cut. Then the animal can be gutted and the tied off part comes out of the animal with the rest of its entrails.
I recently used the Butt Out on a deer, inserting it up to the handle, turning it until it caught the canal, then pulling out about a 12-inch section, tying it off and cutting it. The whole process took about a minute and my companions and I were pleasantly surprised to see how efficiently and effectively it worked. The suggested retail cost of the Butt Out, which can be cleaned and disinfected for re-use, is $12.99.
If you go to the Hunter’s Specialties site, check out the special hats the Iowa company is selling to help support breast cancer awareness. There are five men’s and women’s versions of the hats and visors, which all sport the breast cancer awareness pink ribbon and the Hunter’s Specialties logo and come in several colors, including camouflage. Each hat costs $20 and all profits go to the Susan G. Komen Foundation to help raise awareness and search for a cure.
Marine artist Guy Harvey is probably best known for the millions of T-shirts bearing his colorful artwork that are worn all over the world. Harvey’s work also adorns everything from towels and carpeting to dishes and lighters.
One of his newest ventures is the Guy Harvey Artist’s Collection wines. There is a sauvignon blanc, a chardonnay, a cabernet sauvignon and a merlot. Each of the wines features Harvey’s art on the labels and money from the sale of the wines helps support marine research at the Guy Harvey Research Institute at Nova Southeastern University.
For a different type of drinking experience, try the Soda-Club home carbonation machine. You fill a special Soda-Club one-liter bottle with water and use the machine to carbonate the water, then add a capful of Soda-Club syrup to the bottle to make a pretty good-tasting soda.
Among the regular soda flavors are cola, orange and root beer, as well as cranberry raspberry and pink grapefruit. These sodas have only 8-9 grams of carbohydrate per 8-ounce serving compared with 30-plus grams per serving of most store-bought brands. There also are diet flavors, which are sweetened with Splenda, and caffeine-free flavors.
The biggest benefits of the Soda-Club are the low cost for each bottle of soda; the ability to use it while boating or camping — no batteries or electricity are needed, just water — so you don’t have to lug along a cooler full of soda bottles and six-packs; and the environmental benefits of not having to dispose of all those empty bottles and cans.
The Soda-Club uses a tank of carbon dioxide to carbonate the water and make club soda.
Each tank can carbonate up to 110 liters of water. When empty, the tank can be exchanged for one that has been cleaned, inspected and refilled by Soda-Club. Starter kits cost less than $100.a