IF DEAR OLD DAD loves the great outdoors—and if you’re reading this right now we figure there’s a pretty good shot he does—what could be a better Father’s Day gift than fishing, hunting, or camping gear? Nothing! Here are a few top gift ideas that are sure to put a smile on your favorite father’s face.
Binoculars — What outdoorsman wouldn’t be stoked to unwrap a new pair of binoculars? Just make sure the model you get matches the activities dad enjoys most. Hunters, campers, and others who spend most of their time on dry land can use more magnification (the first number used in a binocular’s rating) and a lower field of view (the second number). But anglers who fish from a boat need no more than 7X or 8X magnification unless gyroscopic stabilization is part of the mix. They also need a wider field of view, with 30 to 50 usually considered about right. Otherwise, the motion of the boat makes it impossible to focus on a far-off item. No matter what the binoculars will be used for, consider it a plus if they’re waterproof, nitrogen-filled (which prevents fogging from abrupt temperature changes), and have a shock-absorbing rubberized armor.
Fishing Rods and Reels — These are rather intimate items to an angler, so before you go shopping make sure to inspect the rods and reels dad currently has in the garage and match them as best you can. If his arsenal is chock-full of spinning gear make sure to get more of the same, for example. Also check to see if your loved one prefers braid line or mono, and have his new reel spooled up with an identical type of line.
Jumper Packs — Does dad still have a set of jumper cables in his truck or boat? If so, a great gift would be a new jumper pack. Thanks to recent advanced in lithium-ion batteries, you can now get a power pack small enough to fit into your pocket, but potent enough to crank over a car or an outboard — without needing the assistance of another vehicle. Added bonus: these little wonders can also be used to juice up a dying cell phone, camera, or any other electronic device charged via a USB port.
Lures and Tackle — If dad’s an angler he surely needs more lures and tackle. But don’t just go to a tackle shop and start buying; every angler has his or her own preferences when it comes to what they cast. Instead, go through his tacklebox. Ignore all the shiny stuff and look for well-worn lures with rusty hooks, which are a sure sign they get used. Then snap off a cell phone pic or three, and you’ll be able to match them perfectly. Also look for soft plastics, because these get torn up by the fish and are in need of constant replacement. Finally, near-empty jars of artificial bait are another item he’ll be on the lookout for. If you’re still unsure, a gift card to your local tackle shop is always a safe bet.
Night-Vision Scopes and Monoculars — If dad stays out in the woods after dark or leaves the dock in the pre-dawn hours, he’d surely love to have a night-vision scope. And while these used to be prohibitively expensive, today you have several brands to choose from with pricing all the way down to just a few hundred dollars. They’re available in both hand-held and rifle-mounted versions, plenty of models are waterproof for marine use, and some can even take and save snapshots of the thermal images they spy.
Outdoors Action-Cams — Taking video of the big catch, the hunt, or any other exciting outdoor activity will help your favorite father share the action with family and friends.
These days you have a number of them to choose from, including some that are designed to be worn on hats or helmets, others with multiple mounts and cases, some that can capture 360-degree footage, and some that are designed to be rigged in-line on fishing gear to capture underwater views.
You can now control these cameras from your cell phone and even live broadcast your video back home or to the world at large.
Satellite Communication device — Nothing says “we love dad” like a safety device that could save the life of a boater, backpacker, hunter, or anyone else who enters the wild. In remote areas cell phones don’t always work, and there are several satellite communicators available these days which cost just $150 to $300. Some put out an SOS with exact location data, and more advanced ones also allow you to send simple text messages from anywhere on the face of the planet.
Solar Chargers — If the man you’re shopping for likes taking extended excursions into the backcountry, his gizmos are sure to run out of power. That problem is easily solved by gifting him a solar charger. Look for models that fold up for easy storage and transport, have internal lithium-ion batteries (so they can store the power they gather for later use after the sun has gone down), and multiple USB ports so he can feed more than one gadget at a time.
Super-Coolers — Every outdoorsman needs a good super-cooler to take on hunting or fishing trips and camping excursions.
While there used to be just one dominant brand there are now many to choose from, and most are built to last for many, many years. Plus, pricing for these incredible iceboxes has come down in recent years.
Truck Accessories — Every outdoorsman loves his truck, so help him jazz it up a bit. Rugged floor mats, fishing rod racks, gun racks, off-road lights, tool boxes, and bed liners are just of the few things that should put a smile on dad’s face.
You say he drives a Yugo? Then this might just be the year to give him the Father’s Day gift of the century — you know what to do!
Hunting Gear — One thing about hunting: you can never have enough gear. That’s partially due to the fact that hunters use ammunition up as they enjoy their sport, and need a constant resupply (just be sure to match up your gift exactly to the specs of the ammo he already uses).
But it’s also because hunting dads just plain like stuff—slings, holsters, camo, decoys, scopes, rangefinders, gun cases, camping gear, boots, you name it.
And if there’s any spare room in the gun safe, well, we hope you choose a gift that can fill the gap.
Dear Mom and kids: if you find this section of the magazine sitting open on the kitchen table with any of the above items circled, underlined, or highlighted… Hint, hint.
—story by LENNY RUDOW
I know many of us would like to be able to bless our fathers with the outdoor quests of their wildest dreams. But reality is that some of us can barely afford to buy them a card, much less an overseas excursion.
This year I decided to have a little fun with this and suggest some quests that might not be so glamorous, but won’t break the bank either.
The African Big Five consists of an elephant, rhino, Cape buffalo, lion and leopard. That’s several hundred thousand dollars in hunt fees and taxidermy bills. So, here is another angle on the concept.
Watusi bulls are a great elephant replacement. They are from Africa and have huge horns not unlike the elephant’s tusks. Believe it or not, numerous Texas ranches offer Watusi hunts.
Imagine the thrill as you approach the massive Watusi bull in the brush as it chews its cud. You get closer, and it still chews its cud.
Your professional hunter (who is really your teenage son in khakis) hands you your double rifle, which is actually Grandpa’s double barrel 12 gauge with slugs.
You get even closer, and the cud-chewing is halted as the bull defecates.
At this point, you realize you are close enough to this deadly creature to touch it. Then the moment of truth arrives. It looks you square in the eyes.
You raise your rifle in fear, and it walks right up to you to get a scratch under the chin.
For the rhino, I searched high and low for a stand-in. I thought I would bring back my childhood of shooting at insects in the backyard.
Dad could break out the Red Rider BB gun, head to the thickets of East Texas and hunt the legendary rhinoceros beetle. Sure, they’re tiny; but considering size, their horn is huge. With a Red Rider you would have to get within five yards to kill it, so there is your challenge.
Now that I think about it, it’s probably more challenging than driving around in a jeep looking for a rhino to shoot. You wouldn’t even have to pay a taxidermist to mount it. Just let it dry in the sun a few hours, and there you go.
It’s not politically correct to kill lions anymore, right? So, what if we created a catch-and-release challenge? In place of killing a lion, Dad has to catch a thick-furred, tawny-brown feral house cat by hand, then take it to the vet to get it neutered. That’s the thing to do these days.
Then he can do what all-animal rightists love—release the cat back into the wild. You know, right where it continues eating native songbirds and small mammals by the hundreds. That’s going green in style, right there.
By the way, there’s a bonus if Dad gets clawed or contracts cat scratch fever. After all, lion hunting is supposed to be dangerous. What’s a safari without some human bloodshed?
A black Angus bull could replace the Cape buffalo. Sure, you probably won’t get that infamous charge, but the beef industry has been telling us for the last decade that certified Angus beef is the only variety worth eating. This way, you get the big black bull and some great hamburger meat. You might even get one to charge you if you shake a feed bucket just right.
We go Cajun for the leopard replacement.
That’s right we go out with a gig to seek out leopard frogs in the coastal brackish marshes. Wait, they are too small for gigs, so Dad has to catch them by hand. He’ll be ok as long as he doesn’t accidentally grab one that’s in the grip of a cottonmouth.
The IGFA recognizes six fishing slams where anglers have to catch a number of recognized species in a given category. The most prestigious is the billfish slam.
With trips to exotic locales, this slam is as much about living a lifestyle that Robin Leach would have reported on in the ’80s, as it is about catching fish. Your Dad deserves something more attainable, so I have created the Brown Water Slam.
Bowfin: Also known as choupique, grinnel, mud fish and mud marlin, this fish fights hard and jumps when caught. That makes it a great marlin replacement.
Any fish that can literally be found in sewage ditches is worthy of pursuit. Everyone wants to catch a survivor like that.
Bullhead: Also known as a mud cat, these fish bite when nothing else will and where nothing else dares to swim—well, except maybe for the bowfin.
The rule in this slam is the bullhead has to be caught in a bar ditch. A creek won’t do. This is the brown water slam and murkiness is our vibe.
Gaspergou: Talk about prestigious. Any fish called “goo” is something anglers around the world dream about.
Uglier than a bullhead or a grinnel, these fish are found in major rivers and reservoirs in the state. They tend to congregate where the water is a little more brown, than clear.
Buffalo: Yes, they are nearly impossible to catch on a rod and reel. Sure, they have more bones than a carp and taste half as good, but the buffalo gets huge.
Saltwater TV legend Mark Sosin might tangle with a broadbill swordfish, but has he ever caught a buffalo?
My friend Mark Davis of Bigwater Adventures has caught more sailfish than the speckled trout I’ve caught, but has he tangled with the suckerfish of Texas?
Forget the champagne and caviar. Pass the Dr. Pepper and Moon Pie, please. After all, Dad deserves a Father’s Day gift he will never forget.