Deciding what to give to the outdoorsman that seems to have almost everything can be a trying decision at Christmastime. While they would appreciate receiving almost anything, why not give him or her something never to be forgotten?
My recommendation has long been to give a guided hunt or fishing trip. Certainly this sort of gift will depend on the amount of money that you are planning to spend. What with the cost of almost all usable outdoor equipment, a guided excursion would not actually be as far out of affordability as one would surmise. As with most other outings of any type, the cost will depend on the duration of the trip and the amenities offered.
As most folks already know, there are hunts both in state and out of state that offer some really adventurous situations. There are places where the game is free ranging, and there are high fenced ranches where it is mandatory to hunt with licensed guides. The latter situation is because the quarry may be dangerous or that there is the chance of the hunter becoming lost in some vast wooded area. There are also hunts with guaranteed results when a guide is necessary in order to only take the animal that is the correct age or size.
The free ranging hunts will usually allow hunters the use of private land for hunting. Many folks own tracts of deer-laden property where they hunt. Many more hunters must either season- or day-lease their hunting area. Much of East Texas is season-leased from the big timber companies. The folks that guide on these types of places will normally take hunters to and from prepared blinds at certain times each day. In most cases these are free ranging animals with no guarantee of a success. Whether the food and sleeping is part of the hunt should be known prior to going.
Most of the outfitters who either lease or own land in the West and South offer either day hunts or pay-as-you-go hunts. The day hunts come in many varieties. There are single-animal hunts, multi-animal hunts, trophy hunts, management hunts, and possibly all of the above. The more expensive sites will offer some really great meals and lodges for relaxing and sleeping. There could be a minimum number of hunt days booked or only a day at a time. For the most part, these hunts will offer a guided hunt, should the hunter require one.
The trophy ranches that offer hunts will often require that a guide go along so the wrong animal will not be taken. The same ranches will likely do the same on management hunts unless they are for antlerless only. Feral hogs and turkey are in many cases offered along with the trophy whitetail buck package.
The out of state or exotic ranch hunts will mostly require a guide. The reason for this is generally two-fold. First of all, out in the West and into Alaska, it would become easy for a hunter to get lost. Being disoriented in many of those areas could be tragic. Besides Alaska, there are several foreign countries where there are several types of dangerous game animals. Guides are required there.
There are some trophy hunts for whitetail bucks, elk, moose, bear and exotics that are pay-as-you-go hunts. Some of those hunts may be as inexpensive as a couple thousand dollars or up to five figures in cost.
There is some of the better waterfowl hunting within easy driving distance of our area. There is also some hunting offered all the way from the Texas Panhandle to Canada. The latter hunts for mostly Canada geese take place early in the season. That’s when they begin their heaviest migration.
Our local outfitters spend many hours during the off-season leasing hunting property. Then just prior to the opening, they are out getting their blinds ready for their paying customers. Most of them begin their hunts with doves and then teal. After that, the migrating ducks and geese become legal game. Most of these outfitters do work long hours in order to ensure their clients have good, comfortable hunts. Most of them offer food and lodging.
There are world-class inland saltwater fishing trips hereabouts for speckled trout, redfish and flounder. Most of the outfitters furnish everything but food and water. These trips are well worth the price. Whoever receives the trip will remember it always. Tangible gifts lose their value and are not remembered over the years.
You can locate an outfitter on the computer or by contacting the chamber of commerce in the nearest town.
Billy Halfin can be reached by e-mail at bhalfinoutdoors [at] aol [dot] com.