John Harrigan - Ho, ho, ho: Gift ideas for your cherished ones

JOHN HARRIGAN December 15. 2012 8:30PM

I was going to write about an Alberta grizzly that destroyed the interior of a $70,000 luxury sedan, but then I looked at the date and realized that it is time for my annual and widely-acclaimed Christmas Gift Suggestion List. So here it is. The bear can wait.

-- Combination hunting and fishing license. I always start with this one. Give your loved one a gift card from your favorite sporting goods store. If you divide the cost, $48.50 (about as much as you'd drop for a meal at a fancy restaurant) by the hours of recreation it enables, it's one of the best bargains anywhere.

-- Swiss Army knife (and beware of knock-off imitations). I'm always amazed at how someone's supposed pack doesn't contain this indispensable little item. Get the one with the bazillion implements.

-- Leatherman. Ditto. If I were trapped in a disabled Soyuz capsule on the way to the moon, on account of us having to rely on those Rooskies because we didn't build anything to replace the space shuttle, and you can tell that this just gets my U.S. of A. patriotic goat, this would by my tool of choice.

-- Starter fly-fishing kit. A Cortland outfit, at around $99, includes an eight-foot rod with reel and line. It's perfect for a newbie to learn. You don't have to spend hundreds of dollars or be filthy rich to fly-fish. It's a big myth. I consider myself among the hoi polloi and the Great Unwashed, and throw a pretty mean fly.

-- Non-Bowie-knife belt knife. The Bowie knife is just for swaggering and is pretty much useless, unless you're planning a trip back through time to the Alamo. No, this gift would be a small knife with maybe a three-inch folding blade. I've always carried a Buck knife on my belt (OK, product placement here, but I don't get anything for it, I've just always liked Bucks). That's except when going to the airport, which I don't plan to do ever again unless I can't get to where I'm going by train And boy, does the Buck come in handy around house, farm and camp.

-- Now here's a radical idea for navigating in the woods - a map and a compass. I don't know how many news stories I've written about rescues of lost hikers (and, rarely, hunters) who'd ventured forth without these essentials. But OK (he says, grudgingly), carry a GPS as a backup in case your compass goes crazy over a swamp full of bog-iron.

-- On the other hand, do not give your loved one chest waders, a winch (not to be confused with a wench), a snowmobile with reverse, a four-wheel-drive vehicle or a GPS device. All of these lull you into euphoria (a false sense of security) and can get you into deep trouble.

-- Walking stick. If the relentless effects of time and gravity haven't already made your cherished one a bit unsteady on the trail, they soon will. Get a walking stick a foot longer than shoulder high, on account of having to negotiate bottomless mud and snow.

-- Cast-iron skillet(s). Three of different sizes is nice - two to cook with, and the third, the biggest one, close at hand so as to smack anyone advancing with soap.

-- Jumper cables and road kit. Get them separately - the cables in most emergency road kits are junk. Get heavier cables for better power-flow. I've outfitted six kids (count 'em, six) with toolboxes containing essentials like pipe clamps, pliers, screwdrivers and duct tape. Wouldn't let a kid drive off without one.

-- First aid kit. Ditto.

-- Lantern, candles and flashlights. I'm amazed at how many households don't seem to have these basic items, the evidence being that they go dark and stay that way when the power goes out, which it eventually does - and always will.

-- Books. My gift-list would include Pike's "Tall Trees, Tough Men," and its companion "Spiked Boots." And in another vein, Kenneth Roberts' "Northwest Passage" and "Arundel." You can get 'em used and cheap at your friendly local bookstore.

So there you have it. And don't forget - only nine shopping days left before Christmas.

This endlessly repeated consumer-driven warning is up near the top of my Hate List, right along with the endless rum-pum-pums of "The Little Drummer Boy," which eventually will put me over the edge, and which I will be mumbling, feebly, when they come to drag me away.

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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