Aubrey Shepherd's focal point for display of Labrador retrievers, natural-resource conservation, English language word use, outdoor sports, recreational sports and athletics

Welcome to
  Town Branch
  News & Views


  Language Lane
  Louisiana Tech
of Arkansas
  Photo Albums
  About Us / Our
Friends / Family


First printed in
The Morning News
of Northwest Arkansas
Aubrey's Notebook:
Christmas outdoor gift

A lot of outdoor writers prepare an annual Christmas-shopping column to help family members plan to please outdoor enthusiasts.

Many times, I've done the same thing, listing some of the new products on the market and maybe pointing out why a hunter, fisherman, hiker, boater, dog-trainer or whatever might find the new item better than the old.

Maybe the most important point that needs to be made in such a column is to try to find out what the outdoor enthusiast really wants or needs. There is no point buying a 7-foot baitcasting rod for a person who never uses anything but a 5-footer and isn't likely to change the habit.

There is no point investing in a full-choke shotgun for a person who hunts quail or even for a duck hunter since the steel shot required for waterfowl shooting patterns better out of a modified or improved-cylinder choke.

Sometimes a person who routinely shops for bargain ammunition or fishing lures may be thrilled to get the high-dollar stuff as a gift. On the other hand, some bargain-shoppers consider paying more than necessary an inexcusable waste.Gloves, flashlights, rainwear, wool socks and similar necessities are always likely to be needed. Having extras of certain types of outdoor gear is always nice.

To figure out what to buy, try asking such questions as the following: Why do you use neoprene gloves? Aren't Gore-Tex gloves better? The person's answer may help you decide whether to buy the person an extra pair of identical gloves or choose something the person has never tried.

Another question might focus on the outdoor enthusiasts' favorite conservation organizations: Are you a member of Ducks Unlimited? The Arkansas Wildlife Federation? The Sierra Club? The Ozark Society?You may learn that the person would like to donate to some groups, but simply has found it impossible to donate to all. A one-year membership to most such groups costs relatively little and most provide magazines and such that will cause your friend or loved one to remember your gift all year long. Even more important, you may cause the recipient to become a regular contributor to such a group, effectively multiplying the value of your gift.

Mother Earth, of course, will be the main recipient of any conservation-club memberships you buy as gifts for outdoor enthusiasts on your list.The easiest gifts for the earth, of course, cost nothing. Choosing not to clear brush or grass or timber from land is one way to help the earth without lifting a finger. Cutting your mowing in half next summer could provide a similar benefit to the environment. Saving gasoline, of course, saves you money while preventing pollution from burning the fuel as well as from the petroleum-production process.

Recycling, of course, has finally become popular. Many people would use a can crusher if given one. Many would sort their recylable materials from worthless garbage and trash if given a set of matching containers for cans, bottles, paper, plastic and other recyclable items.

What not to buy? A puppy, unless you honestly know the recipient will want it, love it, care for it and train it.Maybe the best gift a non-outdoor enthusiast can give an outdoor-loving family member or friend is a day outdoors. No, I don't mean an all-expense-paid trip to a luxury hunting club. Give your friend or loved one your time. Make the effort to go outdoors with that person and try to learn what a particular outdoor sport involves. Let yourself enjoy another person's excitement and enthusiasm. You may find you too can't live without the outdoors.


[Click here to email Aubrey]
Aubrey James Shepherd
Fayetteville, AR © 2003, 2004, 2005

Site design by Lauren Hawkins' LDHdesign