OPINION

Gift ideas for an outdoor enthusiast

Staff Writer
Story City Herald

Naturally Speaking

—by Steve Lekwa

Do you have an outdoor enthusiast on your list that’s difficult to shop for? There are catalogs and stores full of really neat stuff, but when it comes right down to it, many folks don’t need much more stuff. Most outdoor enthusiasts, especially older ones, already have plenty of outer ware, racks of fishing rods and reels, tackle boxes overflowing with fishing lures that they seldom (if ever) use, and storage shelves full of camping equipment. You could, of course, just get them a gift certificate so that they can pick out something they actually need, or at least want. You could also get them a subscription to a good outdoor magazine or a gift membership in an organization that does good conservation work. You could also purchase a good book for them.

Any outdoor enthusiast worth their salt should have read Aldo Leopold’s Sand County Almanac. It laid the foundation for modern conservation and wildlife management, and introduced the important concept of a land ethic. The book should be on every outdoor person’s shelf. Your outdoors person might also enjoy one of John Madson’s books. John grew up hunting and fishing in the Skunk River Valley near Ames, Iowa, and went on to become one of America’s foremost outdoor writers, and a colorful speaker. He always cherished his Ames roots and was the featured speaker at the dedication of Hickory Grove Park. John was a great storyteller who was adept at capturing in print the many humorous characters he met in his years of wandering the lakes, rivers, and back woods of the country. Look for John’s book, Out Home, published by Winchester Press.

Most Iowa outdoors folk will enjoy reading Iowa Outdoors, the bimonthly publication of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Each issue is filled with articles about interesting Iowa outdoor destinations, wildlife, fishing, and general nature. It is illustrated with work by Iowa’s best nature photographers. A subscription costs only $15 per year or $24 for two years and also includes a beautiful annual calendar featuring dramatic Iowa nature photos.

Perhaps your outdoor enthusiast would appreciate a gift membership in an Iowa conservation organization. The Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation tops my list of organizations that work to preserve the best of natural Iowa “for those who follow” (the organization’s motto). A gift membership costs only $25 and provides the receiver a beautiful quarterly publication featuring projects of the organization scattered all over Iowa and a gorgeous annual calendar. Memberships support the ongoing work of the INHF. Any upland bird hunter would enjoy reading Pheasants Forever’s bimonthly magazine. The magazine is national in scope, but Iowa and the Midwest are in the PF heartland where the organization was born and still flourishes. PF’s hundreds of local chapters raise funds and work at the local level to acquire and develop habitat for upland wildlife and provide opportunities for youth and adults to get involved in conservation work and education. Ducks Unlimited and their bimonthly magazine cater to waterfowlers and the organization carries on important wetland conservation work throughout North America.

Perhaps your outdoors person would enjoy a gift of bird seed or a new feeder for their winter bird friends. You could get them some of the “good stuff” like fine sunflower hearts. It’s more expensive than the usual bird seed mixes you can get at the grocery store, but can be found at many larger bird food sections or specialty shops. Birds seek it out like candy. A heated bird bath is another great gift idea that will give the birds and their viewers lots of pleasure all winter long.

I wish all readers of Naturally Speaking a wonderful Christmas and a safe and fulfilling outdoor new year!