As we enter the final stretch toward what could be Wyoming’s coldest Christmas in a long while, here are some ideas that might warm the heart of that special outdoorsy someone on your gift list.
Some are practical, based on my own experiences. Some are more fanciful. And some are … well, just what they are.
So, let’s get started, shall we?
‘In Soviet Russia’ Hat
I’m sure this style of winter headgear has an official name. But right now, I’m in too much of a hurry (in other words, just too lazy) to try googling it.
I’ve always called this fur-lined, full-coverage thing of functional beauty my “In Soviet Russia” hat, probably because the style calls to mind Red Army troops. Or, maybe Minnesota state troopers, but I digress.
Trust me, this thing takes warm to the next level. In fact, it has to be what my dear old Mom would call “snot-freezing weather” for this hat to not make you start feeling too warm.
A Real Chainsaw
In his recent column, Cowboy State Daily’s Dave Simpson described an interesting collection of shrub trimmers he keeps in his garage.
This is a chainsaw.
Now, before Dave get’s too irritated with me, I’d like to point out that my dad also had an old Homelite. And I myself started out with a Walmart Poulan – sporting a 30cc motor and 16-inch bar – that set me back all of about $100.
Along with my nephew and brother-in-law, I did my level best to kill that thing. We sank it into timber way too big for it, hardly ever sharpened or cleaned it and left it bouncing loose in the back of pickups. But it just would not die.
My brother-in-law still has it, and it still runs. So, I have a profound respect for shrub trimmers … err, smaller saws.
And I was finally able to snag this work of art – a Sthil MS 500i with a fuel-injected motor that’s just a hair under 80 cc, 28-inch bar and full-wrap handle.
It’s by no means the largest saw out there, but it rips through even the biggest Wyoming timber like you’re dropping the bar though water. It turns a day of cutting firewood from a chore into a blissful escape from all earthly cares.
So, for the chainsaw nerd in your life, consider leaving this under the tree. Just remind them that firing it up in the living room and “testing” it on the tree probably isn’t the best idea.
This one is self-explanatory. I bought it from a small vendor at a gun show a few years ago. I enjoy telling online friends from distant places that Wyoming gun shows are like our version of community festivals. But, again, I digress.
I keep this within easy view of my home office writing station. It can be inspiring. Or cathartic, depending upon circumstances.
The good news is, a flamethrower can add an extra element of fun to seemingly mundane tasks such as lighting a campfire.
The better news is, they’re relatively affordable, and legal in Wyoming.
To really warm up the holidays and make spirits bright – as in truly, exceptionally bright — consider gifting a flamethrower to your favorite hunter, angler or camper.
And it’s an expression of freedom, said one Sheridan man who moved to Wyoming from California where flamethrowers are illegal.
“It’s nice to be somewhere where freedoms are appreciated,” Allan Hovland said. “I’ve used it to melt ice in my driveway. It’s highly effective.”
10 mm Handgun, Target That Goes ‘Ding’
Speaking of Wyoming firearms, the 10 mm auto cartridge is fast gaining ground in the handgun world. It’s got considerably more punch than the 9mm, but pistols chambered for it can be less unwieldy than big-bore revolvers, making it a viable option for predator defense.
Indeed, Lee Francis of Evanston credits his 10mm Glock for saving his life as he fought off a grizzly this fall.
Even though he accidently shot himself in the foot during the tussle, Francis told Cowboy State Daily he plans to keep carrying his 10mm in grizzly country.
Nothing against Glock, but I opted for the Smith & Wesson pictured here when it was time to dip into my “fun money” account and buy a new firearm.
Sadly, I haven’t gotten to shoot it yet. I can’t drive out to my favorite target shooting spot because the pickup is in the shop. My teenage daughter took it out recently and … OK, we won’t go there.
But anyway, if you’re considering getting somebody on your “nice” list a 10mm, include a target that goes “ding.” I sure do love mine.
Fiskars Axe, Power Log Splitter
My old man insisted we heated with nothing but firewood. I grew up splitting rounds with just about every axe, maul and wedge there is.
But I’ve never had anything like my Fiskars axe. It weighs only a fraction of what most mauls do, but in my experience is just as effective.
Now, as much as I enjoy quality time behind a good axe, when you start to exceed the five, or even 10-cord mark, it’s easy to get all funned out. That’s where a power splitter comes in handy. The aforementioned daughter and I have put mine through up to 30 cords a season with no problems.
And since I bought it with that first round of COVID-19 relief checks issued during the Trump administration, I like telling people that “Donald Trump bought me my log splitter.”
Now we’re entering the realm of the fanciful. This 150-pound contraption built by the late Canadian inventor Troy Hurtubise looks like just too damn much fun.
A couple of grizzly bear experts told Cowboy State Daily that they didn’t think it would be practical for its supposed intended use – getting really close to bruins to study them – and I’d have to agree.
However, just think of the “release my inner 14-year-old” moments that you and your buddies could relish with this thing.
Maybe dare that one cousin who is just a bit off to don it and let you ram him with your pickup. Or, smack each other with axe handles – or maybe even dive bomb a dear friend with a piece of timber you just cut with your real chainsaw. The possibilities are endless.
Again, this is one that needs little explanation.
If you know somebody who wants to take it easy and really soak in the majestic natural beauty of Wyoming while dropping a deuce, consider getting them this brainchild of Texas businessman Keith Lindsey.
We can get into a possibly endless debate about what the ethical limits of hunting shots are. I personally have never had to exceed 300 yards.
But slinging a bullet across such a distance that it takes the bullet nearly half a minute to reach the target isn’t really a matter of practicality. It’s more along the lines of something you would do just to do.
Drone-Mounted Flame Thrower
And so we come to the ultimate “Dear Santa” moment.
True, it’s expensive. And true, you need a commercial drone pilot license to actually use it.
But, c’mon man … just think of the “look, Mom, no brains” shenanigans you could embark upon with one of these wonders of modern technology and ingenuity.
From getting rid of a pesky wasp nest, to pulling off a hunting camp practical joke of Biblical proportions – again, the possibilities are endless.