Friday, December 7, 2012

Holiday Gift Ideas

December 7th. 

Mathematically 18 days until Christmas.  Plenty of time. Right?  What's your calendar look like for the remainder of the month?  Work Christmas party.  Spouse's Work Christmas party.  Family coming into town early. Your leaving to be out of town for Christmas.  Now what do those 18 days look like? 

They probably look mighty thin, especially if there's an outdoorsman (or woman) on your list.  As outdoors-people go we rank among the hardest to shop for when Christmas roles around.  Why?  Not everyone is into the outdoors, so they don't have any idea of what we use or need out there in the field.  Even if they have an idea, outdoorsman are notorious for just buying what we need when we need it. 

So here's a trick:  Don't try to buy something he doesn't have.  Replace something he already uses.

Let's talk optics.

What most of us know about optics, binoculars specifically, could fit in the palm of our hand.  Hunters included in this discussion.  So let's go with a basic primer on optics and look at some options that won't break your Christmas budge and the outdoorsman in your life won't be scared to lose in the woods.

Unless you're heading out west for a Elk or Antelope hunt you really don't need a big over-powered set of binoculars.

All binoculars have two statistics that you should worry about:  Weight and Objective lens size.

Weight is easy.  Lighter is better.  If it's hanging around my neck, or weighing down my pocket, the lighter the binoculars are the more likely I am to carry them.  Save the full size binoculars for bird watching when you are heading afield with a book and a good pair of binoculars.  Look at the compact models for packing in with the rest of your hunting gear.  The typical hunter is probably carrying between 10-15lbs of gear including the layers of clothes, and whatever lands in their pockets and packs.

Objective lens size.  Okay this is honestly a tougher choice, but in my opinion, boils right down to usability.  When you see a binocular and it's called a "10x25" or "8x42" the second measurement is called the "objective lens."  The objective lens is not the lens near your eye, it's the lens that let's in light.  Therefore the bigger the objective lens the more light that enters the binoculars.  More light, more detail.  However that objective lens can contribute a lot to the overall weight of the binoculars. 

The reality for most hunters east of the Mississippi is we hunt small thick woodlots.  So in this case if you hunt in areas common to Northwest PA you simply don't need a bigger objective lens.  It's not going to help you to see through the thick brush, so unless you really like being able to pick out individual thorns on the brier bushes 50yds away, save the weight and go with a 10x25.

So before you head off to the local sporting goods store, write down these two things:
Compact binoculars, 10x25

I'll let you decide between black and camo!

For more gift ideas check out my gear article in this Sunday's Erie Times-News on the NWPA Outdoors page.

Happy Hunting
Scott M

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