Outdoorsman essentials make the best holiday gifts


It’s gift buying time. Like, hate it, or anything in between, it is time for Santa to emerge and do the deed. I’ve assembled a few of my favorite pieces of gear, things that make outdoor pursuits more enjoyable, comfortable and successful.

Binoculars are like good gloves. Hunting without binoculars is like bowling with a ball that has no holes. My go-to optics are by Bushnell, a company that seems to represent a middle-of-the-line shopper, someone who wants good and dependable optics but can’t or won’t spend a fortune on them. That’s me.

Stronger isn’t better

My choice is a 7X36 powered set, meaning that they are some of the lowest power binoculars being marketed to hunters who tend to think they need the highest power glasses. I’ll take the lower power every time because with every step higher the ability to hold them steady increases dramatically and the field of view often decreases, making it harder to acquire the object you seek.

My favorites are camo colored, in a mid-size frame. Bushnell calls the model an Excursion FX and Chuck Adams endorses them. Add a chest harness to the binoculars for easy carrying and an even steadier look as the glasses are pulled tight against the harness.

Another Bushnell product that ranks high with this hunter is their Scout 1000 range finder, a model that provides the distance to a target quickly and precisely.

The scout features one button operation and calculates effective distances by factoring in the drop or rise between shooter and target. The unit even has modes for archers and rifle shooters.

I’ve field tested the Scout 1000 on range targets, from tree stands, and in the mountains where ranges and slopes are nearly impossible to estimate accurately. Bushnell is currently offering a significant rebate on some gear, including these.

Hot stuff

Now let’s get down to the value of warm, dry boots. Whether boots leak or encourage sweat, they get damp and worse, they feel damp the next morning. It just happens.

So look for electric insert boot dryers. Some of the best are by Peet. Insert dryers simply drop into each boot and they can be stored in even the smallest travel duffle. I know they are sold at Cabelas but I’m sure other vendors carry them.

Looking for something smaller and hotter? Check out Zippo’s Tinder Sticks and lighter. The lighter, which looks and feels like any Zippo pocket lighter, actually holds and ignites waxed cotton sticks which in turn will tender a camp or survival fire.

Another flame thrower he or she might like is a pocket lighter by various manufactures that are flameless and weather-proof. Don’t think just because you don’t see the flame there is a problem. I did and suffered a painful burn. These outdoor lighters are propane powered and refillable.


Last but not least I suggest any one of many small first-aid kits. Every hunter should have one in his backpack or under the seat of his truck, if for nothing else but repairing his finger and pride after he checks his new lighter to see if it’s working.

(Readers may contact this writer at mtontimonia@att.net.)

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Mike Tontimonia has been writing weekly columns and magazine features about the outdoors for over 25 years, a career that continues to hold the same excitement for him as it did at the beginning. Mike is a retired educator, a licensed auctioneer and marketing consultant. He lives in Ravenna, Ohio and enjoys spending time at his Carroll County cabin. Mike has hunted and fished in several states and Canada from the Carolinas to Alaska and from Idaho to Delaware. His readers have often commented that the stories about his adventures are about as close to being there as possible. He is past president of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio and a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Mike is also very involved in his community as a school board member and a Rotarian.



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