Trail cameras are all the rage right now. They’re the hunter’s eyes in the woods when they’re not there, and can be immensely helpful in scouting and planning a hunt. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Hunting down the right gifts for family and friends can be a challenge. It’s often made more difficult when shopping for a hunter, especially if the shopper is not familiar with the specific tools and tactics required for a particular pursuit. Still there are some generalities that might help make the task a little easier, or at least inspire a few ideas of your own.

Flashlights: Nearly every hunter needs a flashlight, or two regardless of what type of game they pursue. The Mini Maglite used to be a staple stocking stuffer, as evidenced by the numerous end caps and pre-checkout displays in most sporting goods and hardware stores at this time of year. This little light runs off two AAA batteries, will fit in a pocket or pack and costs under $30. However, a more serious hunter may prefer a more serious light. You can buy a lithium-powered LED light that’s roughly the same size as the Mini, but will light up the night with up to 1,000 lumens. The better ones are also nearly indestructible, but they are a tad more expensive, some ranging from $100-$200.

Knives: You can never have enough knives as old ones get lost, dulled or simply replaced by the latest and greatest. Any old hunting knife will do but a deer hunter may want one with a conventional blade (6-8 inches is plenty) and a gutting hook. The latter makes field dressing and processing neater and easier. As an alternative, you can’t go wrong with a multi-purpose tool. These super-handy implements have largely replaced the old Swiss Army knife by putting miscellaneous blades, saws, screwdrivers and bottle openers inside the handle of a plier. If you’re still undecided, get them a knife sharpener and they won’t need a new knife.

Cameras: This one is more for the deer and bear hunters. Trail cameras are all the rage right now. They’re the hunter’s eyes in the woods when they’re not there and can be immensely helpful in scouting and planning a hunt. Like flashlights, they run the gamut from basic models as low as $50 to hi-tech versions costing several hundred. Even the basic ones, if set on high resolution will take pictures nearly as sharp and clear as your smart phone will. Pictures are stored on an SD card and pulling and reading cards is like opening presents on Christmas morning – a gift that keeps on giving.

Even more recent and increasingly more popular are cellular cameras. In addition to storing captured images on an SD card, they will also send them, via cell signal, to your smart phone, laptop or desktop, eliminating the need for regular visits to the woods that take precious time and effort and increase disturbance of a particular area. They generally run from $100 (the cost of a half decent conventional trail cam) to several hundred dollars and all require some type of cell plan or subscription. Newer versions like Wildgame Innovations’ Insite cameras even come with free software that allows you to sort images and build useful data bases from your library.

Software: Speaking of technology and software, there are several apps available that can be very helpful to a hunter. Programs like HuntStand and onX Hunt have a variety of features like aerial and satellite imagery, wind and weather forecasts and property lines and ownership information. Functions allow you to plot the location of rubs, scrapes, trails, sightings and stands, among other things. You can even program them to tell you which locations are best and worst given different wind directions on any given day.

Clothes: If your hunter is not into technology there’s always the old fallback to apparel. Cotton may be comfortable in warm weather but in the fall and winter they want something that will keep them warm, even when wet. Start with a poly base layer that will insulate and wick moisture away from the body. A mid layer of fleece will do likewise. Big game hunters will want an outer layer that’s quiet like fleece, or wool for the traditionalist. Waterfowlers or anyone who sits in the rain or snow may also want a breathable laminate like Gore-Tex to protect them from wind and water. Everybody needs socks; just make sure they’re wool or poly to help keep feet dryer. And if you’re still stuck for ideas there’s always gift cards. Then they can pick their own presents.

Bob Humphrey is a freelance writer and Registered Maine Guide who lives in Pownal. He can be reached at: [email protected]


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