"Gifts for the outdoor enthusiast" by Luke Clayton Luke Clayton Christmas is quickly approaching and if you have an outdoors enthusiasts on your shopping list, theres still time to get them a gift that will keep on giving throughout the upcoming year. As a full time outdoors writer, I have the opportunity to test and use a lot of products. Here are some that I have come to depend upon: Photo by Luke Clayton ELECTRIC SMOKER- I use my Smokin Tex (www.smokintex.com) electric smoker to prepare everything from BBQ chicken to wild hog hams. These units are easy to use and turn out great meals. Small pieces of wood are loaded into a smoke box, the meat is placed on the racks, the thermostat set and I walk away and, very often, letting the meat slow smoke overnight while I sleep. Smokin Tex currently has a special Christmas sale on the units. LIGHT FOR HUNTING HOGS AT NIGHT- A few years ago, Karl Harmon (www.ultramaticfeeders.com) invented his Feedlight, a unit used for hunting hogs at night. The unit has a built in solar panel to keep the battery charged and when the sun sets, the lights come on to illuminate the area around your corn feeder. Ive used mine for the past 6 years and its still working fine. The company also offers THE REMOTE, a small unit that remotely activates your game feeder. The Remote used in conjunction with the Feedlite is highly effective in harvesting wild hogs at night. OPTICS- Every hunter or fisherman needs quality optics. Alpen Optics (www.alpenoptics.com) offers a line of excellent products at a price many of us can afford. Ive used their rifle scope this season and found it to function as well as scopes costing 3 times as much. GUIDED FISHING TRIP- In my OUTDOOR TIP OF THE WEEK, I included my picks for places to enjoy some hot winter fishing. Included is contact info for several guides. A guided fishing trip makes a great gift for the avid angler on your shopping list. A HUNTING TRIP- Many ranches in Texas that are on at TPWD management program offer trophy whitetail hunts through the end of February, long after the regular season closes. Hog hunts are very affordably priced and provide a great winter get away. Here are some ranches Ive hunted that offer a variety of game: Near Palestine, Big Woods On the Trinity (www.bigwoods.net) In Knox County, Ranger Creek Ranch (www.rangercreekranch.com) In Trinity County, B & C Outfitters (www.easttexasexotics.com) Circle T Bowhunting Ranch near Commerce (www.circletbowhuntingranch.com) In Red River County, Rio Rojo Rancho,Mike Ford (www.riorojorancho.com) Near Mineral Wells, Holt River Ranch (www.theholtriverranch.com) Squaw Mountain Ranch (www.squawmountainwhitetails.com) near Jacksboro, Texas Waterfowl guide Cory Vinson (www.nofishnocharge.com) is offering gift certificates for guided duck hunts with meals and lodging at his private hunting lodge at Seven Points near Cedar Creek Lake. Cost is $200 and includes a steak dinner, overnight lodging, breakfast, guided duck and bird processing. HUNTING BLINDS- GhostBlind (www.ghostblind.com) came out with a revolutionary new hunting blind this year that uses mirrors on the outside and conventional camo on the inside. The blind weighs less that 20 pounds and can easily be transported in the field. Ive used my GhostBlind on many hunts and found it to be one of the most effective blinds Ive hunted from. OUTDOOR COOKING GEAR, SEASONINGS- Check out Frisco Spices (www.friscospices.com) for gifts for the outdoor cook. Sausage and jerky seasonings, cures for meats and just about everything you can imagine for cooking outdoors is available here. TRAIL CAMERAS- The use of trail cameras has revolutionized the way many of us scout for game. Predator Trail Cams (www.predatortrailcams.com) offers a camera that is easy to use and read. Images can actually be viewed from an onboard screen rather than having to download images from a memory card as is the case with many trail cameras. DEER HUNTING TRIP- The primary whitetail rut is finished in North Texas but just getting underway in the South Texas Brush County. If youre hunting North, East or West Texas, keep in mind that there is usually a second rut underway about now. Does born early in the summer come into their first estrus period in December and those that were not bred during the primary rut will become receptive to breeding again, triggering this second rut. Dr. Robert Mcfarlane at The Big Woods Hunting Resort says hunters on his 7,500 acres of bottomland often do very well during this second rut. Weve witnessed several mature bucks chasing the same doe this time of year. Deer are not nearly as active now as during the primary rut but some very nice bucks are usually taken during this period. Its a good time to hunt aggressively and bring your rattling horns and buck grunt calls. Says Mcfarlane. *************************************************************************************Outdoor Outdoor tip of the week: Fishing roundup: Just because the weather is cold doesnt mean the fish arent biting! Winter is prime time for catching stripers, trophy blue catfish and freshwater redfish from warm water lakes. Crappie bunch up in huge schools on deep water brush and although the bite is subtle, skilled anglers using sensitive rods and light line can catch their limit. Here is a list of my picks for lakes where I have enjoyed excellent winter fishing. Included with each lake is contact information for a guide that can put you in the action. LAKE FAIRFIELD REDFISH- Guide Cory Vinson (www.nofishnocharge.com) says redfish are on a very dependable bite. Cut bait near bottom in water 10-12 feet is producing most of the action. LAKE TEXOMA- Guide Bill Carey (www.striperexpress.com) says stripers are biting well. Roadrunner Jigs or Sassy Shad fished slowly along submerged river and creek ledges are producing best. LAKE TAWAKONI blue catfish are keeping anglers smiling. Guide George Rule (www.trophycats.com) says fish over 20 pounds are becoming increasingly more common as the temperature continues to drop. Big chunks of fresh cut bait on circle hooks is working best. At CEDAR CREEK, guide Jason Barber (www.kingscreekadventures.com) is using fresh shad near cormorant roost trees and enjoying good action on trophy class blue catfish. At LAKE WHITNEY, guide Randy Routh (www.teamredneck.net) reports stripers have started driving big schools of shad into pockets and coves off the main lake and fishing has been excellent. Roadrunner jigs and soft plastic shad imitation baits on a half-ounce jig head are working best. Jay Don Reeve with Crappie Anglers of Texas (www.crappieclub.com) says crappie are stacking up on deep structure and hitting live minnows well. Hes using a technique known as spider rigging effectively at Cedar Creek. This technique employs the use of 8 or more rods, each baited with two minnows. Want even more of Luke's hunting/fishing tips and tricks, wild game recipes etc? Listen to Outdoors With Luke Clayton for a new show each week at www.catfishradio.com and check out the new fishing videos at lukeshotspots.com Contact Luke at firstname.lastname@example.org The BOC has a virtual library of Luke's stories right here on the forums; just about anything you could want to read about the outdoors. Click here to see a boat load of information!