Janesville24.2°

One outdoorsman's holiday gift wish list

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By Ted Peck
December 15, 2013

A buddy called this morning at 5:15 just giddy over several nice walleyes he had iced at first light the day before.

He knows this usually isn’t too early to phone. But this morning the ambient temperature was below zero, the last deer was hanging in the pole barn and sleeping in was going to be a much appreciated luxury.

My wife thought it was a neighbor calling to watch her four kids. Jenny is about to deliver her fifth. When the voice on the other end chirped “you missed a great bite,” she was ready to bite back in a target-poor scenario.

Most personal focus has been on deer hunting for the past six weeks—bow then gun then muzzleloader. From a trophy perspective this was the worst season in memory.

But big horns aren’t everything. Many bucks were allowed to continue on their way unaware. The freezer is full of doe meat. Backstraps taste better than horns.

Both thumbs and two fingers are split on the ends from exposure to cold. Super glue has been applied to assuage the pain. It is a good day to work on the Christmas list.

All I want to find in the stocking on Christmas morning is a brick. Winchester .22 long rifle hollow points would be nice. Might as well wish for world peace.

Like many Americans, I own a Ruger 10/22 rifle. Ruger says it is the most popular .22 rifle ever conceived. Mine was a $99 special purchased when the Janesville Gander Mountain store opened a few years ago.

Since purchase the rifle has been tweaked with a folding stock and 50 round magazine. This year Ruger came out with an after-market accessory every 10/22 owner would love to have: a laser that installs in minutes by sliding right on to the stock.

Lasers are illegal for hunting in Wisconsin, but legal for target shooting. Plinking with a .22 is a hoot. There is a spinner target in the back yard, ready when the urge to get some trigger time arises.

The new Ruger laser costs more than the original rifle did. It is available on line from Ruger. Targets designed for .22s are available at many outlets for $15-$50. Ammo is still hard to find, but the shortage has eased somewhat over the past couple of months.

Handwarmers are great stocking stuffers for any outdoors person on your Christmas list. Better still are toe warmers and large body warmers with adhesive. When worn over a base layer one of these body warmers with help warm your core for 12 hours.

Ice fishing will soon be the primary hook and bullet option in our neck of the woods. Hardwater angling has really come into its own over the past 15 years or so, with technology now matching angler intensity.

Some folks may be considering purchase of electronics for the ice fisher in their lives. Underwater cameras and sonar flashers are both popular items. Cameras are nice when fishing less than six feet of water. In greater depths having an assistant raise the camera while the angler tempts a pensive panfish would be nice.

Finding a willing assistant for this duty is likely as somebody stepping up with a sharp knife, eager to field dress a gut-shot deer.

A flasher is a better option for most ice fishing scenarios. I have five of them. By far the favorite is a Vexilar FL-18.

St. Croix has a new line of ice fishing rods which are compatible with this technology. The Legend Series comes in silver and gold models, retailing for $80-$90.

For local angling applications, the 24-inch light action model is ideal. I have one of each. They are truly the most sensitive ice fishing rods on earth—made right here in Wisconsin.

If the temperature warms above 10 degrees today one of my St. Croix rods will be put to work trying to catch a walleye for supper. This must have been the subliminal message my wife had in mind when she pointed that meat fork at me this morning and growled “get out.”

Ted Peck, a certified Merchant Marine captain, is an outdoors columnist for The Gazette. Email him at tedpeck@acegroup.cc.



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