A grandfather hand crafts a wooden tackle box as a joint Christmas present for his son and grandson, and it becomes a treasured gift.
A wife gives a special book, and it changes her husband’s life.
A pair of boots from a grandfather at Christmas starts a tradition that has lasted for 60 years.
Most outdoorsmen cherish stories of Christmas gifts that have affected their lives – maybe it was a retriever puppy, a first shotgun or a waterfowl hunt.
This is the time of year when these cherished stories are foremost in a sportsman’s mind. Here is a sampling of their remembrances:
Clay Hasty, Camden, S.C.: “My most memorable Christmas and gift would be the first Christmas after marrying my wife, Janet, in 1980. She gave me a Remington 1100 shotgun. I was so shocked that she would buy me such a nice gift. It took me back to my youth and also began my future with duck hunting and retriever training. Every time I pick it up I feel goose and duck bumps all over again.”
Steve Buckley, Elon: “My most memorable Christmas gift was a pair of L.L. Bean boots given to me by my grandfather. I was 10, and I was sure they would be just the thing to wear when I made my daily rounds to check my muskrat traps. The boots kept my feet dry, but the unlined rubber soles were icily cold in winter snow no matter how thick the wool socks. Despite that, I loved the boots. Sixty years later, I still wear Bean boots to hunt birds.”
Jim Elam, Warrenton: “Christmas 1991, I received a gift that helped open the door to a career that existed only in my dreams. My wife gave me the book “Tritronics Retriever Training.”…This book provided me with the tools to build my budding dog training business…and the foundation that inspired Lake Country Retrievers. Although worn and tattered, it holds an honored place in our library.”
Henry New, Stedman: In 1956 when I was 7 years old, my oldest sister’s husband bought a Harrison-Richardson 20 gauge single-shot shotgun for my Christmas present. He gave it to me Thanksgiving since the hunting season would almost be over at Christmas. I hunted with that shotgun all through my years in school…When our oldest daughter was around 10 years old, she wanted to go hunting. We went squirrel hunting. After about a half box of shells she shot a black and silver fox squirrel. I never hunted with that gun after that. I had the gun for over 55 years. It was stolen a few years back. I often wish I had it back to give to my daughter for the memories I made hunting with it growing up and the memory she and I made on that one hunting trip together.”
Bryan Pennington, Burlington: “One of the most long-lasting Christmas gifts came 12 years ago in the form of a Ryman English Setter puppy. He had all this orange Belton ticking, an old dog’s disposition but (was) interested in everything. My girlfriend, Nancy, picked him out…Over the last 12 years he has pointed probably 500 birds, woodcock and grouse in New Brunswick, quail in Hyde County, doves in Alamance County and close to 100 ducks. He has pretty much done it all and he is the sweetest boy you have ever seen. Merry Christmas to me and Nancy because of our boy Tam.”
Bud Dowdey, Georgia: “I was 10 years old and my dad had already given me a 22LR when I was 6. I carried it on bird hunts but of course didn’t shoot it at a bird. On Christmas Eve we opened family gifts and when I didn’t get a shotgun I was disappointed. My dad asked me to check on the dogs and I did. When I came back inside my dad called me over to the Christmas tree where I found a 410 shotgun. He laughed and said Santa must have been early. It was the best Christmas I ever had and to this day I remember it like it was yesterday. Yes kids there is a Santa Claus.”
Amy Schmidt, Welcome: “My father was an avid golfer. One of his fondest wishes was to pass along his love of the sport to his children. One way to do this was to surprise us with golf clubs at Christmas. My turn came when I was 12. There they were, unasked for, in my pile of presents. I tried them out once and scored a 72 on my first hole. That was it for me. I returned to the saddle club and have remained a lifelong horsewoman. I gave the clubs to my brother and never teed up again.”