John Harrigan's Woods, Water & Wildlife: Ideas for desperate shoppers

Woods, Water & Wildlife
December 17. 2011 10:32PM

OK. It's almost Christmas, and that means it's time for the Revised Harrigan Gift List.

Get your beloved a jackknife. Not one of those there biggy buck knives, mind you. They are pretty much worthless, although they swagger well. Get a knife with about a thousand blades and implements on it. Much handier around a campfire. Or, for hunting needs, a simple small Buck knife. It'll do what you need it to do.

There is this thing long-called a 'pickaroon.' One of my few best friends just gave me one for Christmas. It is a pick-bladed thing with a two-foot handle. If you are going to pick up errant pieces of wood, it is indispensable.

An outdoor wood furnace. If you have nearby neighbors, you should not have or run one of these. If you are out and away from neighbors, they are great. They keep the wood debris and the ashes and the attendant insects out of the house. Great for some situations, not so great for others.

Poncho: Sure, most of us have expensive rain suits hyped as able to keep us dry for several months in the Amazon Basin, but a poncho is handy for covering your pack or protecting your hide after your $200 Wonder Fiber Jungle Rain Suit disintegrates after the first monsoon. Besides, I just like the sound of it. 'Poncho.'

Emergency first-aid kit: This is no joke - every vehicle, pack, boat or camp should have one of these.

Kindling axe. Now this is a serious thing for people serious about axes. A kindling axe should have a heavy head and a short handle. To get one now means haunting yard sales or craft shows. Mine was made about 1830.

Oil lantern. There are tons of these out there. I have one in each room of the house and keep one going all the time in the kitchen. First, because I like the scent, but also, if the power goes out, I don't have to grope my way around. This is when I wonder whether people who just flick the switch have even a clue.

Salt. If you, or a loved one, have a driveway prone to slickness, you want salt. It's available in big bags, and it's pretty cheap.

Shovels. Don't go cheap here. A good shovel is worth good money. Get one with a good, durable sharp blade. I keep three (at least) on hand - one for the front door, one for the back door and one for the furnace woodshed.

Boots. Who does not want or need a good pair of easy-on, easy-off winter boots? This is a challenge. Believe me, I've bought and tried them all. As for the latest pair, I'll use them this winter, but might shoot them in the spring.

Fleece jacket. Now there's another challenge. You want warmth but not too much bulk. So get one for your Cherished One, with suggestions for layering underneath.

This last alludes to the old saying among beekeepers, which is to keep your honey warm.

John Harrigan's column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. His address is Box 39, Colebrook 03576. Email him at

John Harrigan

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