Last Minute Gifting for Your Outdoor Nut

Last minute outdoor Christmas gifts? Not really; you have days yet. With all the gift opportunities of Paradise, or wherever you are, that’s a lifetime, and cost is negotiable. Indeed, some of the most treasured gifts you can give will cost you almost nothing out-of-pocket.

If you have a few bucks left, you can spend them in a way that gets your outdoor nut’s attention.

Consider a wildlife background license plate, with bald eagle, killer whale, elk, mule deer, or black bear, for just a few bucks more than your regular vehicle-licensing fees. Pair that with a personalized plate, and you point a few bucks more toward wildlife. Discover Pass is always a thoughtful get-ahead-of-2018 option. You will find resident adult fishing and hunting licenses in options designed to fit your outdoor nut in a variety of prices. (In Washington, you will need Wild ID number, date of birth and account password at to purchase the licenses.) The proof of purchase for most any of these will fit nicely in a discreet envelope under the tree.

Of course, all the local outdoor gear shops we looked at two weeks ago are still open. And gift certificates from most any stores in Paradise will fit perfectly.

The choices for free, or nearly free, are nearly endless. Give it a moment’s thought and you will probably find several ideas better than mine, but consider the following suggestions.

I regularly cross paths with the homey who once passed along one of the best ideas ever for getting kids and families outdoors and stretching the fun out long enough to make a real Christmas memory. It seems that one of Homey’s kids had a little digital camera, so in his stocking she put a new memory chip for it, and batteries.  Their two smallest kids found disposable cameras in theirs. That Christmas day, they went on a wildlife watching safari, with hot chocolate, coffee and favorite snacks. They found deer, elk, bighorns and a bald eagle, and some pretty cool scenery. Then, the day after Christmas, they all went down to a one-hour photo places and had prints made. The trip is still a much-anticipated Christmas Day tradition, but now with all digital phones and cameras. The family still regularly enters some of its digital shots in age-appropriate categories of the Field and Stream Club Photo Contest at the Central Washington Sportsmen Show in February ( Homey is convinced that this almost-free last minute gift idea will carry on to her kids’ kids – never forgotten. This gift fits almost anywhere in the world, actually.

You can make such an outing yourself; start with critters scattered all around Paradise. Lower Cooke Canyon, Reecer Creek, Colockum Pass, Taneum and Manastash Roads will all get you into winter deer range. The largest elk herds in our valley are probably in Lower Joe Watt Canyon (there will be snow sledding there, too), or scattered over onto the Heart K Ranch at the mouth of the Taneum. I’m seeing a few bald eagles around the valley, too.

The Yakima River Canyon holds deer, a few elk and several bunches of California bighorn sheep, along with its seasonally increasing population of bald eagles and other raptors. The trick here, of course, is the traffic. The handful of good pull-off areas may or may not be anywhere close to critters you want to examine up close, but it is still worth the drive, and kids get very excited about being the first to spot some critter or other. Take your optics. Remember that your contribution to the Kittitas Environmental and Educational Network (KEEN) on behalf of the scenic byway will help make safer watching down the road (pun intended) – just contact Jill at 509-551-8807.

In this part of Washington, the ultimate elk and bighorn watches are, of course, the elk feeding at Oak Creek Wildlife Area, and the bighorns feeding at the Cleman Mountain Site. Both sites are west of Naches, where Highways 410 and 12 split. At the intersection, turn north onto the frontage road and follow it to the California bighorn sheep feeding site. You cannot miss the fencing and the signs. For the elk feeding, turn south onto Highway 12, and look for the signs (and elk) on the right. Take your Discover Pass.

Never underestimate the lifelong pleasure of a homemade gift. I have long-held hand knitted scarves and sweaters, an ammo box made by a buddy and a hand-made leather “possibles” pouch for small things that want to be together. Such gifts bring joy and smiles far beyond the hours it took to make them. How about a gift of your time for something the giftee needs or wants to do?

I know of folks receiving new handguns for Christmas. If you know of one, why not add a lifetime of value to the gift? For top-notch training in the safety, care, handling and shooting of that new piece, contact NRA-certified handgun instructor Marilyn Mason at 509-962-3002.

I would be remiss if I did not recommend a copy of the updated third printing of Jim Huckabay’s inspiring “WILD WINDS and Other Tales of Growing Up in the Outdoor West.” Jerrol’s and the University Store (which also carry many other fine outdoor books) have autographed copies.

Last-minute Christmas or other Holiday gifting is pretty simple, I think. Whatever you give, imbue it with joy.

Merry Christmas…

Written by Jim Huckabay. Posted in Uncategorized