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Outdoors

James Drake

Now that weíre actually into December, I believe itís finally the proper time to talk about holiday gifts for the outdoor crowd.

Does it bother only me to see Christmas trees lit up and trimmed in Walmart before Halloween?

I really detest that, but it's a topic for another time.

In preparing to write this cheerful column, I first tried to think of the very best gift I ever received.

Iíve been a lucky guy and have been blessed with lots of great presents over the years, but I finally decided the flagpole given to me for my birthday about 10 years ago was my favorite gift of all time.

I had to dig a big hole in the yard, pour a little concrete in there and set the holder so it would be perfectly straight, but I didnít mind a bit.

For a whole decade, almost every day I noticed our big flag and smile.

Right now, one of those ďDon't tread on meĒ standards is blowing in the breeze and itís up there because of a friend serving in the Navy.

Every United States naval vessel has been directed by the Secretary of the Navy to fly that particular flag until the war on terror is over.

Iím flying it to honor my Navy buddy who is half a world away right now on deployment. The next time he visits here, that particular flag becomes his.

If youíre wondering, we do it properly and have a spotlight lighting it up at night.

Not everyone has room for, or the need of, a 30-foot flagpole, so I thought for this year Iíd offer a fairly simple list of just a few items that are sure to be hits with almost anyone in the outdoors crowd.

For those who like to shoot, consider a gift of Federal champion .22 long rifle ammunition, and this comes in a new, limited edition, real nice wooden box.

The cost is $26.99, which will get you that box plus the 500 rounds inside. Everything is made in the United States. This nifty wooden container can, and most likely will, be used long after the ammunition is spent.

Itís available only at Cabela's, so call 1-800-237-4444 or go to www.cabelas.com. The United States Postal Service will not usually ship live ammunition, but UPS will. Don't worry, Cabelaís takes care of it anyway.

ďThe StrikeĒ and ďThe HuntĒ are two Wii games from Bass Pro Shops. One is about fishing, the other hunting. You get the software and controllers for both games on sale now for only $39.97 until the end of December. You can order from Bass Pro Shops by calling 1-800-227-7776.

I did a column about the Bedol water clock, this novel little timepiece, a few weeks ago and the one I have continues to amaze me.

Itís a desk clock about as big as a softball and you donít plug it in or insert any batteries. Anyone who loves the environment has got to like that idea.

You simply pour some tap water into the reservoir and it starts keeping time. Mine has worked flawlessly now for several weeks.

Suggested retail price is $29 and you may order it directly from Bedol at www.bedolwhatsnext.com. These water clocks are also available at a substantial discount from www.amazon.com.

A WaveSpin tangle-free spinning reel would make a great gift for the fisherman/fisherwoman on your holiday gift list.

I own two of them and have had no problems with either. In fact, the overall quality and design are both first-class in every way and Iím very pleased with the product.

They are developed by the well-known bass professor Doug Hannon, and two models are on sale right now at half price if you buy them directly from WaveSpin.

The DH3000 model is priced on sale for $37.47 and is said to be ideal for largemouth/smallmouth bass, walleye, pike, trout and panfish. The bigger DH4000 model is offered now at $41.63 and is meant for fish such as musky, salmon and catfish.

To get these prices, you must order online at www.WaveSpinReel.com. These half-price specials are only available through Dec. 15.

A chamois cloth shirt from L.L. Bean makes a wonderful gift for any outdoorsy-type guy.

I have bought several of these over the years and discovered you just canít wear them out no matter on how many hunting/fishing/camping trips they keep you warm. Plus, they only get softer with use.

These shirts are double stitched and the buttons are designed and built to be unbreakable. They are made in Portugal.

L.L. Bean offers free shipping and anything they sell is guaranteed to please you in every way. There is no time limit on that guarantee.

The shirts retail for around $50 depending upon the size and exact design. Call 1-800-221-4221 or go to www.llbean.com for more information.

A guided fishing trip makes a really extraordinary gift that is just chock full of smiles.

The first comes when you learn about it, additional smiles come in anticipation of the big day, smile real wide during the trip and then grin even more afterward when you reminisce about the great time you had.

I donít champion many guides/outfitters, but over the years I have endorsed, without exception or hesitation, Ken Penrod (301-937-0010) or Andy Andrzejewski (301-932-1509) for Tidal Potomac River bass fishing and Capt. Sonney Forrest (443-532-0836) and Capt. Eddie Davis (301-872-5871) for Chesapeake Bay fishing.

A guided trip is a fairly pricey gift to be sure. You can always lower the cost by half if you get together with a friend and sponsor two fishermen for the same outing.

I hope the suggestions above prove helpful and you all have a wonderful holiday coming up.

Iím also an advocate of buying products made in the U.S.A. If you're going to purchase a pocket knife, check the blade.

Most all Buck knives are made today in America, but lots of other manufacturers continue to outsource to China and Mexico.

I also suggest you try to buy locally. If you shop in places like the Bay Pro Shop in Dunkirk or the Tackle Box in Lexington Park, youíre supporting local merchants and your money will most likely stay right here in Southern Maryland.

Good luck and an early Happy Holidays to everyone and a Merry Christmas to those who celebrate.

MSSA tournament results

More than 800 anglers aboard 220 boats took part in the striped bass tournament sponsored by the Maryland Saltwater Sportsmen Association held the weekend of Nov. 17 and 18 throughout the Chesapeake Bay.

Lee Tippett, captain of the Fin Finder II out of Solomons, took first place honors, and a combined payment of over $45,000 for a 41.35-pound rockfish.

A 40.90-pound striper took second place and congratulations go out to Jeff Probst, Mike Turner and Bill Turner who split a $14,640 prize.

Third place was a 40.60-pound striper caught by Rick Heck and crew that paid $9,760.

zbasser@aol.com