Most of the sportsmen and women that I have known over the years have an affinity for tools of the trade, gizmos and gadgets that have a practical application in their outdoor pursuits. And if they want something, and can afford it, they just go out and buy it.

V. Paul Reynolds, Outdoors Columnist

Oh, there are exceptions in the outdoor community. There are a small percentage of stubborn minimalists, who are content with tattered old hunting shirts, noisy old two-stroke outboards that simply refuse to start on some days, or vintage waders that have been patched and repatched. Easy shopping for these pillars of privation.

In most cases though, the bottom line at Christmas time is this: sportsmen and women can be tough to shop for because if they needed it, they more than likely already went out and bought it.

So you need to get creative, to think outside the box.

For starters, stocking stuffers make useful and welcome gifts: hand-warmers, gift cards from sporting outlets, a box of ammo, a can of WD-40, a silicone gun cloth, wool-blend socks, a combination hunting/fishing license, or a gift subscription to the Northwoods Sporting Journal.

Big ticket items for the sportsman or woman in your family may require some careful thought and inquiry. A hunting or fishing buddy may be able to help you in this area. My son surprised me with a new hunting blind to replace the old one that had become leaky and difficult to erect. Many pleasant hours were spent in the blind in the deer woods this fall. The gift filled the bill, and left me appreciative every day I zippered myself in for the morning deer vigil.

A new trail camera makes a great gift for any outdoors person, hunter or not. Like so many other “technical” gadgets, the technology of trail cams have improved markedly and rapidly, making the old ones almost obsolete.

Last but not least, there are always outdoor books that make wonderful gifts for the sportsman who has everything. My top picks are recently published books “Behind the Cast” by Dale Wheaton, “The Great Maine Moose Hunt” by Roger Lambert, “Trolling Flies for Trout and Salmon” by Bob Leeman, and, of course, two of my books, “Backtrack” and “Maine Deer Hunter’s Logbook.”

All of these books can be reviewed for content and ordered by accessing the Northwoods Sporting Journal website, and clicking on “Outdoor Books.”

A very recent book, “Through Woods & Waters” by Laurie Apgar Chandler, is not listed on the aforementioned website, but is a wonderfully written and highly informative book about the history and heart of the North Woods, including the National Monument.

Chandler is the same adventurer who solo thru-paddled the 740-mile National Forest Canoe Trail. Her gift for prose and soulful reflections of her time in the woods and on the waters puts her right up there with Thoreau, if you ask me.

V. Paul Reynolds is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal. He is also a Maine guide and host of a weekly radio program, “Maine Outdoors,” heard at 7 p.m. Sundays on The Voice of Maine News-Talk Network. He has authored three books; online purchase information is available at

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