Monday, December 15, 2014

The SoCal Bowhunter 2014 Christmas Gift Guide

This gift guide was printed in the December 2014 issue of California Sportsman.

Sportsmen and women tend to have specific wants and needs for their passion. Whether it is for hunting or fishing, there are some awesome gift ideas out there. My brain is full of ideas because there are so many cool new toys, gadgets, apparel, and quality merchandise out there for us. This guide is full of interesting gift ideas and many I have field tested myself (some items are too good to leave off). Some of you may want gear, some may want food, and some may want to go on an adventure. Overall, I think you will all be able to find something worth giving to your special man or woman this year.

Image provided by Raptorazor.
RaptorRazor Knife Set – I have been eyeing this set for a few months now and it just made its way to the top of my list. They share some great video footage on their website. It cuts through pig skin like butter and makes the job that much easier. I really want to test this out on a big boar hide this year. There is the original aluminum combo pack ($129.99), and as a big fan of lighter weight gear, I am looking at the injection molded pack ($59.99).

SuperFEET Insoles – Take care of your feet! Blisters, swollen arches and bruised bones are the LAST thing you want to be thinking about because they will totally ruin a hunt. A couple years ago, I didn't have the right insoles and my feet paid the price. I have been using the SuperFeet merinoGrey insoles and my feet are the happiest they have ever been! They retail for $45.99 and let me tell you, I am putting these on my Christmas list every year!

Wildlife Tags – Does your hunter have a mount that needs a little something extra? Wildlife Tags are great for showing off who took the animal, when they took it, and where. Prices for each Wildlife Tag are very reasonable. The 3"x2" retails for $9.99, and both the 4"x3" and custom tag are $14.99. Wildlife Tag donates one dollar ($1) of each tag purchase to Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry in support. What a great way to give back to the community!

Trail Cameras - A hunter can NEVER have too many trail cameras.

Pocket size Digital Camera - Almost everyone these days wants to share a photo of their hunting or fishing adventure. Most people I know do not want to lug around a DSLR and array of lenses. Why not find a great point-and-shoot that you can take with you hunting, fishing, hiking, or just use at home? They are a wide variety out there, so do your research first.

TightSpot Quiver – This quiver will be the last quiver you buy. Solid, adjustable, and the warranty is unbeatable. You can adjust it forward and back to eliminate the need for a stabilizer, too. For $162.95 they are worth the money. I own one for each bow I own, but if you wanted to use one quiver, you could swap them from bow to bow by simply adding a mounting kit to the second bow.

Fly Fishing Gear - Flies, a new reel, leaders, and basically anything a fly fisherman might go through over the course of the year. I am constantly going through leaders and looking for different hatches for different areas. Having a variety of flies at my disposal would be great.

Image provided by Brett Bumgarner.

3-day deep sea fishing trip - Many of the best trips leave out of Southern California and every one I talk to loves going on these. Plus, they come back with some of the tastiest fish I have ever had. With many of the fish like tuna and yellowtail moving north, the fishing reports have been great! This is one of the items on my list this year as I have never been on one and would really like to!

Havalon Piranta Edge Knife - This knife can do it all from field dressing, skinning, caping, and filleting fish. It has a blaze orange handle which I believe is critical for any backcountry hunter. If you have ever set your black-handled knife down on the ground, had to walk to your pack and turn around to try to find it again when it's dark you'll know. It is extremely lightweight so you'll probably never feel the weight in your pack or on your belt. This is a major plus! The $45.00 investment comes with 12 replacement blades and they fit right in the knife case so you won't misplace them.

First-Aid Kit - Now why would I mention this? Because most of my hunting buddies fail to put even a Band-Aid in their packs, let alone a first aid kit. This particular kit has saved me (and my friends) more than once and I pack one on every hunt I go on. On a hunt a couple years ago,, one of my friends sliced his finger nearly to the bone using the Havalon Piranta. Fortunately for him, I carry a first aid kit in every pack. These work great for fishing and family outings, too.

Real Avid Revelation Lighted Knife - Right out of the box, the Real Avid Revelation is sharp and I mean really sharp. It has a 4.0" drop point blade made of 440 stainless steel. The lights on either side of the blade are rad! This is a knife I really could have used on my elk hunt two years ago. I can't tell you how difficult it is to get a headlamp to cooperate when you are trying to gut an animal. The lights are very bright and the ON/OFF switch is right at the back of the handle. The handle is rubberized and easy to grip, which is a benefit in colder weather and with your hand covered in blood. I really like how the design allows you to grip the knife well, but also see down the entire blade as you are cutting. Retailing for $44.99, this is a gift that every hunter will love.

JetBoil Cooking System – Having a warm meal on a cold day will do wonders for you! These have been around for a while and I love mine. It's a simple and easy way to boil water in the backcountry. The JetBoil retails for between $75-100.

Image provided by HHA Sports.

HHA Single-pin Archery Sights - Quality products like this are worth every hard-earned penny. With the recent release of the new Optimizer Lite King Pin, the single-pin world is now looking at the best sight on the market. You can count on quality craftsmanship, solid construction and a well-performing single-pin sight that has certainly increased my confidence on the range. This is one archery product I highly recommend to any bowhunter looking to increase their ability of consistently hitting the center of your target.

MINOX MD 50 Spotting Scope(see first photo) You can expect quality German glass, with an emphasis on quality. I like the MD 50 because of its compact size and ease of use in the field. With a range of 15 - 30x, it works great for hunting in California and out of state. Retailing for $299.99, this is a great addition to any backcountry hunters’ pack.

BOG's Eagle Cap Hiker Boots - I have been hiking with these in moderate to high temperatures in SoCal. I have hiked six miles with 90# on my back with the Eagle Cap Hikers on my feet and my feet felt great! My feet were more comfortable in the BOGS than sneakers (most people call them tennis shoes out here, but I don't play tennis). I have worn them walking on concrete, sand, and rock. I have worn them in 50 degree weather and 100 degree weather and I have to say that my feet felt great. Sure, on the 100 degree days my feet do sweat, but my feet stayed very comfortable, slightly warm (never hot) and while they did sweat, I never had a blister or hot spot. Let me tell you, I have been putting these through some serious tests. They retail for $150.00 with free shipping and returns in the US.

SealSkins Waterproof Socks - The socks are incredible and have an investment value of $45.00/pr. For a pair of socks that will protect your feet in different situations like they do, I will gladly pay that knowing what I know now. I have used these socks for all of 2014 and I love them! SealSkinz offers a two-year warranty on the socks against defects. That's a pretty awesome warranty for a sock, don't you think?

Hi-Country Wild Game Jerky Seasoning – Have a hunter who likes to make their own jerky? These spices are top notch and full of flavor and kick. I liked it so much I am going to give some other Hi-Country Jerky Seasonings a try. At $8.29 a kit you can't go wrong. You don't need to be a psychic to see that there will be plenty of tasty homemade jerky in my future.

Jerky from House of Jerky – Don’t want to make your own, but love jerky? I can tell you firsthand, HOJ offers perfectly dehydrated and flavorful meat. I would recommend their products to anyone, especially outdoors men and women. Why? Beside the fact that it tastes great and is good for you, it packs extremely well and is great snack. The recommended serving size is one ounce. I think that should be changed to "Serving Size: One Bag."

Camp Dog Cajun Seasoning - Papa Scott sells it in different sizes and offers other products on his site. The 8 oz. canister of original Camp Dog Seasoning sells for only $7.50 and that seems like a steal to me. That's the one I buy every year. Like I said, a little goes a long way and this stuff is great. Everyone I know that tries it loves it! Be sure to get some!

KoolerGel - Now why would I put KoolerGel on a list like this? I use it each and every time I go out hunting. I have saved hundreds of dollars from not having to buy extra ice for my hunts. You can buy Kooler Gel directly from Trophy Bag Kooler, LLC, or from one of the retailers listed on the TBK website. For under $10 you get a six pack. Trust me, it's a sound investment.

OnXmaps - To me that is worth not venturing onto private land, getting a ticket or being shot at. Check out their website for more details on the mapping software and how it can work for you. The investment is worth it in my opinion. $99.99 gets you the map on an SD card. $129.99 for the BaseCamp download, but one of the best is the maps for Google Earth. They also release updates regularly to keep your maps current!

Snow Peak Mini Hozuki Lantern - It's compact, bright, and easy to use. My hunting partner used one this year and I was a bit jealous at how well it worked vs. my headlamp. This is something any hunter or angler could utilize, especially if you are camping out. I want one! I had a small metal lantern that costs half the price that I really liked because it works as a flashlight, lantern, and flashing beacon. The only problem is if you drop it, it's done for. This one is durable. I know what I'll be asking Santa for this year.

Gift subscription to California Sportsman - You get some great hunting and fishing information with the magazine and it'll only cost you $29.99 for 12 issues. Share the wealth and send your buddy a gift subscription. They'll be hooked!

Work Sharp Guided Field Sharpener - The Work Sharp Guided Field Sharpener is not like any sharpener I have used before. First off it gives you a 20° sharpening guide (in yellow) and a 25° honing guide (in black) to make certain you have the correct angle for your blade. It has a leather strop on one side and the ceramic rod feature is an added bonus. Not only can you use it to get a knife edge back, but it has a fishhook sharpener built in. The broadhead wrench is nice to have built in because then you know exactly where it is at all times. It retails for around $35.00.

Image provided by Pat's Backcountry Beverages.
Pat's Backcountry Beverages Carbonator Bottle Starter Kit - This is one of the coolest products I have purchased and it is certainly one of the most unique. There are different ways to combine the different products available for purchase. Brew your own soda or beer in the backcountry or on a fishing trip. I think that overall, the system is offered at a very reasonable price at $49.99. Just imagine how incredible it would be to hike into the backcountry and use cold spring water to make your own beer!

LENSER H7.2 LED Headlamp - The light uses the patented Advanced Focus System can be adjusted from a wide beam to a tight, focused beam of light. At 250 lumens it is very bright! There is a power adjustment lever on the back of the head strap that is designed to adjust the strength of the beam of light. They retail for around $70.

Believe me when I say I know how difficult it can be for someone to have to buy a gift for a hunter or fisherman. I am one of those difficult hunters to buy for! I usually feel I have everything I need for hunting and I really can't think of anything I want to have someone else buy me. Being picky when it comes to my gear is a fault, but a good one. I know many of you face the same dilemma and hopefully this list will help you make some great decisions this year.

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