Season of Giving

Upland hunting fall 2019 Grouse Pheasant

As the gift-giving season approaches, you are sure to ask—or be asked—“So what’s on your holiday wish list this year?” This can be a tricky question, as many of us are used to buying whatever we need, whenever we need it. This year the answer may be something that the recipient didn’t even know he or she wanted.

To help in your gift-buying efforts for the upland hunters and clay shooters on your list, we’ve come up with a few ideas. As you’ll see, the suggestions are not the usual clothes, boots and gloves but more along the lines of new experiences and useful activities for the shooting sportsmen or women in your life.

The Gift of Fitness

Hunters need to be in shape to perform their best in the field—which makes one of the most thoughtful presents you could give a gym membership. Some people are reluctant to purchase their own memberships, worried that they won’t use them. But when a membership is received as a gift, there is less “commitment”—and the recipient may just hit the gym more, knowing you’re likely to ask how he or she is enjoying it . . . .

Lucky Dog 

For the person who has everything, it’s a nice idea to buy something for his or her dog. This could be an item the dog has never had or something to replace, update or upgrade a piece of gear. A new hunting vest for visibility or to take off the chill is always appreciated. Or perhaps a lightweight collapsible dog bowl or emergency medical kit for the field. Electronic “smart” collars act like fitness watches to track a dog’s activities, and training tools like bumpers, release traps or bird bags will help keep a dog in shape and fine-tuned. 

Gun-Club Membership

A gun-club membership can be a terrific gift for a hunter, not only for the off-season but also to keep skills sharp between trips afield. The upsurge in popularity of target shooting has resulted in the creation of exceptional shooting grounds around the country. Many now have traps installed on towers that simulate pass-shooting doves, pigeons and even driven pheasants. A day at a tower is a great warmup for those planning to travel to Europe or South America. This is a gift that will pay dividends for many hunting seasons to come!

Shooting Lessons

Not everyone hits every target every time, and sometimes the reasons for those “mystery misses” are hard to determine. Lessons with a professional instructor can be a generous gift and an eye-opening experience. Not only will the recipient appreciate the new information and skills, but if you join the person for the lessons, you can reinforce the practice methods and instruction in the field. In addition, a gift certificate for shooting lessons can be a much-appreciated corporate gift for clients.

GunShop Gift Card

If you are still at a loss for an idea, the best answer may be a gift card from a local gunshop, sporting-goods store or shooting club pro shop. It may be a way to avoid making a gift gaff, but it’s really a generous way to let the recipient wander through his or her favorite store and pick out just the right items.

Hunting Trip in the US

Many hunters have favorite places that they have been visiting for years. Giving the gift of a hunt may be a way to get them to branch out and try something new. Maybe pick a region they’ve never visited or a species they’ve never pursued or even a hunting method, like walked-up pheasant hunting instead of drive-and-block. Whatever you decide, this could be a memorable adventure, and organizing a group hunt might be a way to check off several people on your list.

Hunting Trip Abroad

This is a big gift, to say the least. It could be a “for you for me” gift, as you might book a trip on which you would accompany a friend or family member. There are so many options, with choices coming down to things like the quarry, the location and your budget. 

In England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland there are many places that offer fantastic driven shooting, with lines of Guns spending several days in different shooting areas. Many of these places also offer traditional walked-up pheasant and partridge shooting with flushing dogs. 

Spain is well known for its high driven partridge as well as its cuisine and wine. France has some excellent shooting not far from Paris. Hungary is another popular destination with a variety of wingshooting experiences available.

South America has an enormous variety of quarry, including doves, pigeons, perdiz, quail and wildfowl. There are several estancias that offer some of the fastest shooting in the world along with first-class hospitality. 

While Africa is best known for big-game hunting, various countries offer unique and amazing wingshooting. The menu of species includes pigeons, doves, partridge, guinea fowl and wildfowl.

A Custom Gunfitting

As they say, a shooter will never shoot to his or her potential with a gun that doesn’t fit. That said, there are many shooters who don’t know what their measurements are, having never had a proper gunfitting. A gift certificate for a custom fitting can help shed light on a variety of shooting “issues.”

Your local gun club, gunshop, shooting lodge or, of course, Google can help in locating an experienced gunfitter in the recipient’s area. Once the proper measurements are determined, the dimensions can be used to order a new shotgun or as guidance in altering an existing gun. Either way, the results will be a gun that actually points where the shooter is looking and, hopefully, improved performance.

Stocking Stuffers 

I’ve mentioned some pretty big gifts here, but there are plenty of useful items that may actually fit into a stocking.

A package with a Leatherman, insect repellant, a first-aid kit and a bandana is very nice, and these items always come in handy. 

A Zippo Hand Warmer is a much-appreciated gift, especially by a waterfowler sitting in a blind on a chilly morning waiting for that first flight of ducks.

When it comes to dog-tracking-and-training devices, the Garmin Alpha 200i has a great deal to offer, including inReach satellite messaging technology (with a subscription) and maps that show public-land boundaries. 

In the end, your list of gift ideas is limited only by your imagination and sense of adventure. Here’s wishing you a fabulous holiday season of giving (and receiving). 

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