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Last-Minute Christmas Gifts for Outdoors Enthusiasts

By David Rainer

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Buying Christmas gifts for those who love the outdoors can be a daunting task simply because we tend to already be outfitted for every excursion into the woods or on the water.

If you’re struggling to find that perfect gift, here are a few suggestions that might not have come to mind.

Alabama State Parks Gift Card

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Alabama State Parks system has provided a welcome respite, with ample ways to enjoy our state’s great outdoors. In fact, 11 State Parks have been awarded the TripAdvisor’s “2020 Travelers’ Choice Awards” because of the great reviews.

One of the best ways to share our great parks is to purchase a gift card that can be used at most parks in a variety of ways. The cards can be used at Alabama State Parks campgrounds and gift shops. You can reserve campsites or reserve boats, canoes or kayaks for your outdoors adventures.

You can purchase the gift cards at most Alabama State Parks, or you can go online to https://www.reservealapark.com/AlabamaWebHome/Giftcards/Giftcard.aspx and make the purchase with a credit card. When you click on the gift card link, you will be required to set up an online account to make a purchase.

Black Belt Bounty

In terms of coffee table books, Black Belt Bounty is a gift that deserves prominent display all year-round. The award-winning book, commissioned by the Alabama Black Belt Adventure Association (ALBBAA), celebrates the Black Belt’s rich hunting and fishing heritage and gives an in-depth looks at all that makes the region so special.

The deluxe hardcover book was awarded first place in the Industry Public Relations Category from the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association’s (SEOPA) annual Excellence in Craft awards. It took third place in the Outdoor Book Category by SEOPA. The Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW) presented Black Belt Bounty with their featured award for the Best of Industry Public Relations.

The Black Belt includes Barbour, Bullock, Butler, Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Crenshaw, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Lee, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Monroe, Montgomery, Perry, Pickens, Pike, Russell, Sumter, Tuscaloosa and Wilcox counties. The region is known for its fertile soil and abundant outdoors opportunities for hunting, fishing and exploration.

Black Belt Bounty chapters include First Hunters and Gatherers; Traditions and Rites of Passage; The Land and Water; Conservation Partners and Practices; Field Trial History; Champion Trainers and Dogs; Photographic Essays: Seasons of Whitetail and Wild Turkey Rituals; Fishing for Bass, Crappie and Catfish; Faces of the Black Belt; Sustainable Living; Wild Game Recipes from Celebrity Chefs; and Signature Dishes from Hunting Lodges.

Visit https://alabamablackbeltadventures.org/blackbeltbountybook/ to purchase Black Belt Bounty.

Full disclosure: I provided three features for the book but don’t receive any compensation from book sales.

Memories of Spring

One of the best turkey hunters I’ve had the pleasure to share the turkey woods with has penned a remarkable memoir of his life chasing the majestic bird. Ron Jolly provides his perspective of spending nearly six decades hunting and videoing wild turkeys across the nation. Memories of Spring shares what drives hunters in their pursuit of this wily bird as well as the memorable turkeys that cause hunters every emotion from jubilation to sweat-inducing nightmares.

Not only is the book an essential read for anyone who pursues wild game, but the book is filled with photos from his award-winning photographer wife, Tes Randle Jolly.

Jolly’s previous boss, Will Primos of “Primos Truth About Hunting” fame, said about the book, “Memories of Spring just may be the latest and greatest insight into turkey hunting that members of the Tenth Legion will salute.”

You can order Memories of Spring from Amazon or send check or money order to Jolly’s Outdoor Visions, 204 Fast Lane, Tuskegee, AL 36083. You can message Ron D. Jolly or Tes Randle Jolly on Facebook for more details.

Ron has also teamed up with another legendary turkey hunter, Preston Pittman, to produce a commemorative Memories of Spring box call. The first run of 200 calls has sold out, but you might be able to get a second edition with a birdseye maple chassis and walnut lid when they return to production this week.

Tenth Legion

That quote from Primos referred to this seminal turkey book from Colonel Tom Kelly, who lived in Mobile and Spanish Fort, Alabama, for most of his life. Kelly wrote Tenth Legion in 1973, and it remains one of the essential reads for turkey hunters today.

This is the way the 93-year-old Kelly, considered the poet laureate of all turkey literature, describes the book: “None of the characters in this book are in any way fictional or imaginary. All are real people who have been known to the author for years. Statements made herein concerning timber, people, or the physiological processes of turkeys are matters of opinion and subject to discussion.

“Statements made herein concerning the thought processes of turkeys, or of deer hunters, are known scientific facts and are not open to question. The author declines to debate the accuracy of these with anyone. He is, however, perfectly willing to fight about them.”

You can order a signed copy of Tenth Legion, 40th Anniversary edition from https://www.tomkellyinc.net/product/tenth-legion-white-edition/ .

Gaston Custom Calls

When it comes to waterfowl calls, David Gaston of Thomasville carries on the tradition of custom-built calls that he learned to build and tune from legendary call-maker Alvin Taylor of Clarendon, Arkansas.

Gaston makes duck calls out of acrylic and wood, although the wood calls are in high demand and are often sold out. If inventory doesn’t show up on https://www.gastoncustomcalls.com/, contact him at gastoncalls@gmail.com or call 251-769-2744 to find out what is in stock.

Hunter Safety System

Be sure the folks on your Christmas list have the proper safety equipment for hunting season, and that means quality harnesses and lifelines.

Hunter Safety Systems, an Alabama company, started making harnesses in 2001 and has an impressive variety of safety harnesses for every need. The company also developed the Lifeline that keeps the hunter attached to the tree at all times.

Visit https://huntersafetysystem.com/ and get free shipping with orders over $35.

ADCNR Lifetime Licenses

If you’re still stumped, head to https://www.outdooralabama.com/license-information and consider purchasing a lifetime license as an ultimate Christmas gift. Click on the lifetime license link for the pertinent information, including the proof of Alabama residency.

License costs are based on the recipient’s age. Those under 2 years old or 50 years and older receive the best prices. For instance, those in that age group can buy a lifetime freshwater fishing license for $178.75 or you can go all out with the hunting, state duck stamp, freshwater and saltwater fishing for $987.70. If you’re between the ages of 12 and 49, that combination package is $1,486.35, still a considerable savings over a lifetime of buying annual licenses. Lifetime licenses are available for individual activities or a variety of combinations.

Time is running out, so get that order in as quickly as you can and have a Merry Christmas!