'Tis the season, as they say.
From Hanukkah to Christmas, it's a season of gift giving, and the outdoor lover on your list certainly will appreciate an outdoors-theme related treasure.
But buyer beware. According to research by Southwick Associates for a trio of outdoors websites, hunters, anglers and shooters are very brand loyal, so choose your gifts wisely by knowing the brand of product your outdoor lover prefers for various tasks.
According to the surveys for HunterSurvey.com, ShooterSurvey.com and AnglerSurvey.com, 78 percent of hunters and 77 percent of shooters used personal experience as the No. 1 factor in choosing a particular brand, and that brand loyalty is almost a 60 percent factor for both.
For our annual Holiday Gift Guide for the Outdoors, we've included a variety of selections on the Lehigh Valley Wild blog (www.themorningcall.com/lvwild) ranging from items priced under $300 all the way down to a few dollars for stocking stuffers.
There's a national wish list this year to buy local or buy USA to re-infuse money back into our recovering economy and to create jobs, so look for items made or manufactured in the U.S. if they are available. They're not always easy to find.
If you want to stay local, give the gift that will help make family memories for years, and perhaps generations, to come.
They say if you give a man a fish, he can eat for a day, but if you teach him to fish, he can eat forever.
The same is true for lures. Give someone a tied fly and they can fish for a while, but teach them to tie a fly and they can fish forever, as well as teach others.
Two years ago, my wife and I took part in the Hokendauqua chapter of Trout Unlimited's annual eight-week fly-tying class. Not only was it loads of fun and something we still talk about it today, but it was exhilarating for my wife when the instructors would walk around with the flies she tied and show them to everyone, and then look at mine and, with eyes rolling, say "Yours will catch fish, too."
Despite that, the fly-tying class, held eight consecutive Saturday mornings at the Northampton Middle School cafeteria beginning Jan. 7, is a fun-filled adventure that engages people of all ages, even if they aren't anglers.
Best of all, the cost for adults is only $30, and it includes all fly-tying materials, a handbook on tying the flies you will learn, and the use of tools during class. To register, contact Art Williams at 610-266-1788 or Dale Ott at 610-262-7598, or register online by doing a search for Hokendauqua Trout Unlimited.
And if the person on your list is an angler and 16 or older, they are going to need a Pennsylvania fishing license. The 2012 licenses went on sale earlier this month, and don't forget the additional trout stamp or Lake Erie permit in case they like to travel.
If you want to up the ante, you can always book a bass fishing trip with a local guide such as Blaine Mengel Jr. of Backwoods Angler fame (http://backwoodsangler.com). Blaine is a regular contributor to our fishing report and an outstanding bass fisherman with a show on Versus/NBC Sports, and he runs trips year-round.
If you want to stay with locally produced gifts, check out The Sportsman's Table (www.sportsmanstable.com), which recently celebrated its five-year anniversary. The online store specializes in providing after-the-catch and harvest fare, from spices, seasonings to knives, sharpeners and décor, glassware and table settings, along with custom gift baskets.
And if you're a fan of beef jerky, it's worth a visit to the site to sample this tasty fare.
You can also call toll-free at 1-866-640-6802. About 90 percent of the products sold by Sportsman's Table are made in the U.S.
In the winter, it's hard to stay warm if you're watching a loved one ice fish or sled and you're just standing there watching.
Check out the 4G Lite Selk'Bag (www.selkbagusa.com). Campers have been switching from traditional sleeping bags to Selk'bags, and this lightweight covering is a sleek abominable snowman-like suit complete with hood and slitted mitts for the hands.
The reinforced nylon soles make it ideal for walking. It is made of ripstop water resistant fabric for use indoors or out, and is ideal for extra warmth while watching others have fun in the outdoors, or for camping, car travel, tailgating and even indoors. It stuffs, not rolls up, into a small compression sack for easy carrying.
I've used this while hunting to warm up at my deer stand on frigid mornings, while wearing my orange vest, of course. I've only used it in drier hunting conditions, so I can't attest to its waterproof properties, but it definitely helps take the chill off and is rugged enough for sitting on stand or in the bleachers during a football game, or say, at the 2012 NHL Winter Classic in Philadelphia on Jan. 2.
These are just a few quick-hit ideas for the outdoors lifestyle. Check out the Lehigh Valley Wild blog for many, many more.