The best Christmas gift is time together with family, friends
It truly is the most wonderful time of the year. Excitement abounds among the children as eyes glisten with what is to come. Rudolph, the Grinch, and Frosty have all had their time in your dens with hot chocolate and the other assortment of goodies making evenings complete. When the commercials run, I’m positive the attention is on the tree and what lies beneath. A lab snoozing by the fire completes this picture. Does this sound like your home? If so, then the outdoors is probably a big part of your lives and I bet the packages under the boughs of cedar indicate that as well.
I have been thinking about Christmas’ past and the gifts that I received as a youngster. Do you remember certain items that have a special place in your memory bank? I have a complete list filed away that I reflect back on about this time every year.
There were always a couple of boxes of Peter’s High Velocity shotgun shells under our tree. I still remember the ornate detail on the box like the drake mallard, the trees in the background and the advertisement of the new crimp and the rustless primers. My duck hunting years ago mainly consisted of jump shooting the creeks and ponds around my home. Most were within walking distance and opportunities came in the form of mostly wood ducks but every now and then a prize mallard was part of the bag. Those vivid blue shells still stand out as a big part of my childhood Christmas memories.
Duck calls sometimes went along with the shells as a complement. I remember finding the classic P.S. Olt call in my stocking on several occasions. Of course I wasn’t very good with it, but it was my start. Philipp Olt started making calls from a converted chicken coop in the late 1800s. His passion turned into a business in 1904 and the calls are still made today. I remember the collection of them in my dad’s gun cabinet and remarkably, a few of them are still around. I don’t remember if I ever actually lured a mallard to me with it but I sure tried. Every time I see one of these calls now, I think of Christmas.
There was a “deer lure” made years ago, though for the life of me I can’t remember the name of it. It came in a slender can, with a picture of a buck on it. I believe the can was red and yellow, but not for certain. I could count on a couple of cans under the tree every year. I still remember the distinct apple scent as I would spray it not only around my stand but throughout the house too. There was always a can in dad’s office and he knew I had been in there when he came in from work from the lingering aroma. Gosh, I wish I could find that stuff today. Maybe you will recall this too? If so, I wish you would let me know.
Of course there were always the staples of the hunting industry scattered about the den on Christmas morning. Wool socks, Browning featherweight boots, and sterno went hand in hand. Your feet would freeze with those socks and those boots. The sterno was used to make you think you were warming yourself. I guess it did help warm your hands but that was about the extent of it. It’s a miracle I still want to hunt today after enduring those frigid days years ago with practically no quality hunting wear. Every time I attend a Christmas party and see the crab dip being heated with a can of sterno, I think about those wonderful times.
What do you look for under your tree these days? Will you be one of the few to find a “hambone” in your stocking? Some of you know what I am referring to. The famous duck call produced by C.H. Amaden of Lonoke, Ark. would be quite the surprise on Christmas morning. They’re scarce as hen’s teeth but if you happen to find one, what the gift it would be. Zeiss binoculars, Swarovski scopes, and Purdey shotguns would be nice to give or receive. Vintage leather boots, shooting vests, and other hunting attire are also welcome gifts. You had better have been a good boy or girl in Santa’s eyes to get these goodies though.
The best gift though is time together. A father and a son sharing a duck blind and admiring a boy’s first banded duck is priceless. A family gathering around the fire listening to stories from the field will always be cherished. Make a point to enjoy this Christmas together. We only have so many sunrises and sunsets to enjoy with each other. Make the best of them. And by the way, if you find a Hambone or the apple deer lure give me a buzz, I’d like to know where you found them.
Until next time enjoy our woods and waters and remember, let’s leave it better than we found it. Merry Christmas!