ESCANABA - I get quite a few calls from folks this time of year, asking the name of a product or book that I've talked about on Trails & Tales Outdoors Radio.
Those inquiring are looking for something to use as a gift for an outdoors person family member or friend.
Last season, the most unique item to come across my desk was "Fire Tacks - 3D Trails Markers" from Wild Tech Corporation.
The Fire Tacks are the most revolutionary, multi-directional, reflective forest navigation trail marking system I've ever seen. The reflective tacks are very bright and strategic placement assures the user that "Your way in is your way out!" Rather than just reflect, these tacks refract light in a directional manner. That means you can place them high or low to the ground at a level only you might know. How you find them in the dark from then on will require straight on alignment of the light beam so your trail won't be an incidental find for someone else happening through you favorite hunting spot.
Fire Tacks are available locally through Splat-U-Later in Gladstone and by calling (906)428-9599. They also sell paint-ball supplies and equipment.
There are two outstanding pieces of literature that are new for 2010 and will make ideal Christmas gifts.
Tim Kobasic is outdoors editor for KMB Broadcasting and host/producer for Tails & Trails Outdoor Radio aired on six radio stations over three networks, Charter Communications cable and the Internet Saturday mornings.
Outdoors writer and photographer Richard P. Smith of Marquette has published his first DVD, Field Judging Black Bear, a 46 minute presentation that is an absolute necessity for anyone considering bear hunting and for those who already have.
Wild game always seems to look bigger than life when viewed through binoculars or a shooting scope. Because of its makeup, the black bear is often times difficult to determine from being a sow or a bruin. Any bear that shows up during your hunt that is accompanied by cubs will certainly be easy to identify. It is that single sow that has distinct features that make it rapid and easier to determine. There are also ways to aid the hunter in sizing a bear and provide optimum opportunity for a shot. Smith's production has it all and is one video you'll watch time after time to pick out additional subtle finds that will make you a better hunter.
Richard P. Smith also has 11 books in print that include a series titled "Great Michigan Deer Tales." His latest, Book 5 is a composite of Michigan deer hunters that feature more state record bucks, brothers that shot the same buck, two Boone & Crocket non-typicals taken by one hunter and many more. My favorite Smith book is "Deer Hunting." Now in its third edition, Richard provides the fundamentals on hunting with firearms, bow and arrow and camera. The book also provides guidance on preseason scouting, weapons, clothing and equipment, stand hunting, still hunting, and stalking just to name a few.
With forty years of hunting experience, Richard Smith's work is enlightening for the experienced hunters and very informative regarding fair chase for the novice. Smith clearly shows how he is not just a hunter outdoorsman, but the consummate conservationist.
All of Richard P. Smith's books and his DVD can be found on his web-site: www.richardpsmith.com. You can order in time for Christmas and Rich will personalize the book for you as well.
Another new publication is also a composite of stories shared through a family of hunters, now in their third generation.
"Proud Hunters Proud Yoopers" is a book containing fifty stories from Michigan's wild Upper Peninsula. Author Leon E. Hank compiled the stories contained in his book, on the encouragement from his family. The life experiences are unique to many and parallel what many of us have experienced throughout a lifetime outdoors.
Hank was born and raised in the Sault Ste. Marie area of the eastern UP, where five generations of his family have lived. His passion for big game, upland game and waterfowl are second to none and has helped him in gaining knowledge of how to manage private forest land for wildlife. In 1998 the Chippewa-Mackinaw Conservation District awarded him the Eastern UP Conservation Steward of the Year Award, and he continues to share his knowledge and experience by providing on deer and habitat management.
You can purchase a copy of Proud Hunters Proud Yoopers through Hank's publishing company: Big Buck Ranch, Inc., P.O. Box 285, Holt, MI 48842, or by going direct to his web-site, www.proudyooper.com. He too will personalize any purchase.
Both of these authors, Richard P. Smith and Leon E. Hank, are the type of writers that will explain the hunting experience so the readers will appreciate what hunting is all about. They have written pieces that bring the true perspective of this chance sport that makes one develop the enthusiasm necessary for the true hunter to understand that in many cases, the anticipation far outweighs the realization.
You could say they should be required reading for anyone working on the recruitment and retention of hunters in Michigan, not to mention they are great value as Christmas gifts.