Christmas is still a few weeks away, but with supply chain interruptions and workforce shortages making the task of choosing a gift for the hunters in your household even more daunting, you might want to start shopping early. Here are a few ideas for packages to place under the tree or stuff to stuff into a stocking.

The first one is easy. A warm cup of coffee, tea, cocoa or soup will help your hunter ward off the cold on those long days afield. You’d be hard-pressed to walk into any general merchandise, hardware or sporting goods store nowadays and not find a selection of insulated bottles. Choose from small for a few hours on the deer stand to large for a day in the duck blind.

Speaking of keeping warm, a package of hand, foot and/or toe warmers is inexpensive but will be well appreciated when needed. If you want to be a little more extravagant, you can add gloves and socks; just make sure they’re both made of some type of moisture-wicking material rather than cotton so they don’t soak up and hold sweat, defeating their intended purpose. If you really want your hunter to feel the warmth of the holiday season, you might even consider a rechargeable heated vest.

How about a gift that keeps on giving? People hunt for various reasons, but among the top is meat, and there’s almost no limit to the game processing supplies and equipment you can find. On the small end are things like spices, rubs and seasonings, many created specifically for game, and sometimes specific types of game like fowl or venison.

Increasingly, more hunters are processing their own game, whether to save money, manage quality control or merely to maintain the integrity of the food-to-table chain. That calls for a vacuum sealer to better preserve the quality of meat stored in the freezer. If they don’t already have one, they’ll probably want a grinder, too. Ground meat is especially popular due to its versatility, and becomes even more versatile when combined with the aforementioned seasonings. If your personal processor is really ambitious and inventive, they might even want a sausage stuffer, or even a meat slicer.

The next step in the process involves cooking, and my book-writing peers assure me that nothing sells like cookbooks. Most bookstores should have a few on hand, but larger sporting goods stores are more likely to have those specific to game and fish. And there’s always e-tail (ugh).

Speaking of books, people still read them, especially hunters. Novices might be more interested in how-to books, and there’s no shortage of them from the likes of Blood, Bernier, Benoit and other Maine outdoor writers who shall remain nameless. Veterans might be more inclined toward some good fireside reading from classic authors like Jack O’Connor, T.S. Van Dyke or Jimmy Robinson, to name a few.

Clothing can be tough, especially if the shopper isn’t a hunter, as hunters can be very particular about their sporting apparel. Here’s a helpful hint. Go through your hunter’s closet and look for the oldest, hardest-worn garments, the ones that have gotten the most use; they’re the favorites. You may not be able to find exact duplicates, but a reasonable replacement might do the trick. If all else fails, there’s always gift cards.

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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