By Don Mallicoat
Asheville – If you are a last minute Christmas shopper raise your hand. It’s coming down to the wire and you may be wondering about what to get that hunter or angler on your shopping list. Let’s look at some gift ideas for that hard to buy for outdoorsman. Hunters and anglers, me included, don’t have much use for things that don’t fit our hunting and fishing lifestyle. So if you are buying outdoor Christmas gifts for someone, please heed this advice.
First, ask for a list of gift ideas and ask for specifics. If they just say, “I need some more .308 ammo” that leaves a wide berth. There are several hundred bullet types and weights along with dozens of brands. Is it for hunting or target shooting? Do they have a preferred brand? If they are an angler and say, “Just get me some dry flies”, ask what patterns and sizes they need. You get the idea. When it comes to clothing you may know their size, but is there a particular camo pattern they need?
Failing getting specific lists’ take some time and go through their hunting or fishing gear. It will give you a good idea on brands, bullet weights, calibers, fly patterns, or fishing lure types and brands. Once you’ve done all this it’s time to go shopping. Not going to get into online shopping here and I know a lot of folks do that now, myself included. If you decide to go to a store for your purchases I recommend going to a locally owned gun or fishing store.
Here’s why. In my experience local stores are staffed by people who actually hunt and fish. Their knowledge can be very useful in answering any questions you may have about a product or brand. They probably even have personal experience with it. No slam on big box stores, but many times they are just staffed with sales clerks, many of them with no hunting, shooting, or fishing experience. Believe me, when I had a gun store there were a lot of stories that would make me cringe. Yes, their prices may be less but you might end up buying something the person cannot or doesn’t use.
Let’s talk about gifting guns. It is a common gift but there are some legal considerations. Here are some guidelines. First, there’s no federal law that prohibits a gift of a firearm to a relative or friend that lives in your home state. You can never under any circumstances transfer a firearm to someone you know, or have reasonable cause to believe, legally can’t own one. That’s usually someone with a felony conviction but there are other preclusions.
What about guns for youth? That fist gun is part of the Christmas tradition. That’s no problem with one exception.
By federal law juveniles under the age of 18 cannot possess a handgun. So rifles and shotguns are OK as a first gun. There is one other restriction you need to be aware of if giving a handgun to an adult. Beyond the federal requirement to presume they can legally possess a firearm, in North Carolina they must also give you a pistol purchase permit or a copy of their Concealed Carry Permit. Yep. That’s the law. Hopefully with these ideas you can see some smiling faces on Christmas morning.
I regret ending with a somewhat somber and cautionary note. If you read this column often you know my passion for bird hunting; particularly ruffed grouse. Last month the state of Indiana made the unprecedented decision to list the ruffed grouse as an endangered species. They once inhabited the states’ 92 counties but only exist in a few now. Their population is only 1% of what it was 40 years ago. To the best of my knowledge this is the first time the bird has been listed as endangered although it is a species of concern here and in other states. We’re on the bubble.
Ruffed Grouse Society President Ben Jones states, “The greatest disappointment is that the listing comes as no surprise. Concerned wildlife biologists gave the siren call some twenty years ago. But actions were not taken. In the 18 states on the bubble, they will be listed as endangered soon. With further inaction they will be gone from these states as well. All this occurring in less than a lifetime.” Sad news indeed and further makes the case for habitat management in our National Forests.