"CHRISTMAS GIFTS FOR THE HUNTER OR FISHERMAN" by Luke Clayton Luke Clayton Christmas is just around the corner and its time to give some thought to gifts for the hunters or fishermen on your Christmas Shopping list. If youve taken a look at a catalog from one of the major retail stores catering to outdoor types, you wont have any problem finding a gift. Lets spend a little time and decide what might be the perfect gift. If your sportsman is a hunter, then obviously he uses a shotgun, rifle, bow or muzzleloader, right? Then whats wrong with purchasing one of these items to place under the Christmas tree? Nothing, but make sure your purchase is suited for the individual you are buying it for. Say your dad or husband has been talking about taking up bow hunting. DO NOT purchase a bow off the rack and assume he will be happy with it. Bows must be fitted precisely to the user, draw length, draw weight and several other very important factors vary greatly from one person to the next. If you have been tipped off as to the type bow desired, then a gift card from your local pro shop would be appropriate. Then, the recipient can choose exactly the make and style he wishes and, have it set up to fit perfectly. Likewise when choosing a firearm. Chances are excellent your hunter might have left the hint he or she needs a new deer rifle. But, its a good bet theres a particular make, action and caliber in mind. Just make sure you know all these variables before laying down the cash or credit card! All shopping doesnt have to be this complicated. There are myriad items available that will make your hunter or fisherman happy on Christmas morning. Most of us that hunt and fish also enjoy outdoors cooking. I have used an electric smoker make by Smokin Tex (www.smokintex.com) for several years and consider it one of my most prized possessions. I use it to make everything from great tasting smoked brisket to jerky and sausage from deer and wild hogs. Another great source for gifts for the outdoor cook is Allied Kenco Sales (www.alliedkenco.com). Everything imaginable for outdoor cooking is available here. A relatively inexpensive but very useful item for hunters with dogs is a unit called Kooler Dawg (www.koolerdawg.com) that attaches to the drain spout of your ice cooler and provides fresh water for your pooch. What could make a more appropriate gift for a hunter or fisherman than a place to hunt and fish? American Fish and Game Club (www.americanfishandgame.com), offers year around fishing on around 80 private lakes, well dispersed all over Texas, for less than $300 per year. They also have hunting memberships available. Likewise, a guided fishing or hunting trip will be much appreciated by your sportsman. Chances are good you might remember the name of some of your fishermans favorite guides, if not, here are a few of my old buddies that I highly recommend. Many guides offer Christmas specials that can be used anytime thats convenient. Four great trips that come to mind are winter redfish at Fairfield Lake with Cory Vinson (www.nofishnocharge.com), striper fishing at Texoma with Striper Express (www.striperexpress.com) or winter trophy blue catfish trips with George Rule at Lake Tawakoni (www.trophycats.com) or Jason Barber (www.kingscreekadventures.com) at Cedar Creek Lake. Photo by Luke Clayton There is still plenty of deer hunting opportunities for this season. On many ranches, hunting is allowed through the end of February. A late season deer hunt makes a great gift. Here are a few ranches I have hunted and highly recommend: Holt River Ranch (www.holtriverranch.com) in Palo Pinto County near Graford, Rio Rojo Rancho (www.riorojorancho.com) in Red River County north of Clarksville, Texas and Big Woods (www.bigwoods.net) in Anderson County, south of Richland Chambers Reservoir. If you hunter enjoys waterfowling, then a goose hunt down on the Texas Coast might be in order. Bay Prairie Outfitters near Midfield is a great destination where hunting is usually good for ducks and geese. Package hunts including food and lodging are available at a reasonable price. ***************************************** PROSPECTS LOOK GOOD FOR LATE SEASON DUCK HUNTING - Ive kept very accurate records of my duck hunts during the early season this year and, looking back over the results, I noted a greater number of Gadwalls harvested than normal. Shooting was consistently good on the backwater sloughs I hunt near my home. I averaged 4.5 ducks through the early season and shooting was excellent during the last week of the first split when the much awaited flights of mallards began frequenting the marshes I hunt. I truly believe one motorized, spinning wing decoy replaces a dozen conventional decoys. Ive been hunting with 12-15 conventional decoys and one Mojo Mallard and found the ducks decoyed well with this combination on the small ponds and sloughs where I hunt. BIG BLUE CATFISH BITE UNDERWAY - Some of the largest blue catfish of the year are landed during the winter months. At Lake Tawakoni, guide George Rule reports the big ones started biting a couple weeks ago. Rule used big chunks of cut buffalofish, carp or shad for bait and says the fresher the bait the better. Drift fishing waters 18-20 feet is working best. Tawakoni is full of blue catfish and I always use it as a barometer to determine the bite on other lakes. When blues begin biting here, chances are good they will be active on other lakes. ***************************************** OUTDOOR TIP OF THE WEEK - In many areas, the peak of the whitetail rut has passed but its a mistake to consider it over. Many doe fawns reach sexual maturity late in the hunting season and are the reason for what hunters call the second rut. Dont leave those rattling antlers or grunt call at home on late season hunts. Ive witnessed several bucks in pursuit of a single doe on many December hunts. This late season breeding activity, although not widespread across the deer herd, can be very intense and bucks are often willing to come into to a mock fight created by the savvy hunter with rattling antlers. *****************************************Listen to Outdoors With Luke Clayton at www.catfishradio.com and check out the new fishing videos at lukeshotspots.com We have a virtual library of Luke's stories here on the BOC; just about anything you could want to read about the outdoors. Click here to see a boat load of information!