What do you get the outdoors enthusiasts on your Christmas list who already have everything they need?
Stuff they probably don’t need, but is pretty dang cool anyway.
Covering the outdoors for Cowboy State Daily in 2023 has been interesting, to say the least. And along the way, I’ve picked up a few ideas for things folks might like to have because … well, because Wyoming.
This made my list last year, but come on – I think we all have to admit, flamethrowers are pretty much timeless.
What better way to start a campfire, clear the ice off the driveway, get rid of a pile or garbage or possibly scare away the in-laws?
Last Christmas, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem got a flamethrower from her staff, and she immediately took to showing it off on social media.
So, just a nudge to Gov. Mark Gordon’s staff – there’s still time, you guys.
A few years ago on the Fourth of July, wanting to one-up my neighbors with their annoying fireworks, I kicked off a new household tradition: playing “The Star-Spangled Banner” on a chainsaw.
This year, Executive Editor Jimmy Orr helped me take it to a whole new level. He polished up a video my daughter took while I “played” the national anthem near a local fireworks stand.
And not just any old chainsaw will do. It must have the tone and nimble handling to match the task.
My go-to for musical renditions is my Stihl MS-261. It’s the smallest pro-grade chainsaw that Stihl makes, but if you ask me, it punches well above its weight. It’s hardly my biggest or most glamorous chainsaw, but it growls better than any of the others.
(Not So) Bulletproof Truck, And A Robot To Shoot It
Elon Must caused a social media stir with claims that his Cybertruck is “bulletproof,” posting videos of a robot shooting it with a Thompson submachine gun to prove his point. There was a similar video of Tesla engineers laying into it with a Thompson, as well as 9 mm rounds and 12-guage 00 buckshot.
Though dented by all those rounds, the Cybertruck wasn’t penetrated by any of them.
However, some Wyoming firearms experts pointed out that while certainly respectable, all of those are relatively low-velocity rounds.
Shoot it with a 12-guage slug, a magnum revolver or a high-powered rifle, and it wouldn’t hold up, they said.
And yet, I would argue it would still be cool to have a vehicle that could fend off at least some projectiles, not to mention the robot to shoot it.
And I can see the robot coming in handy for other tasks, such as collecting the firewood you’ve cut with your musical chainsaw or packing out an elk.
Deer Teeth To Eat A Deer With
We’ve all got our share of “badass” outdoors tales to regale our friends with. Some of them even might be at least somewhat rooted in fact.
But none of us will ever match the sheer badassery of Canadian woodsman Francis Wharton.
Back in the 1960s, he lived and hunted in remote British Columbia. He was suffering from significant tooth loss, but didn’t much feel like paying a professional for dentures.
So he shot a deer, made makeshift dentures from the deer’s teeth, and then ate the deer with its own teeth.
If you know somebody who aspires to such greatness, all that’s required is a set of deer’s teeth, a file to reshape the teeth, some molded plastic to mount them in and “household cement.” That last item is what Wharton reportedly used to keep his deer dentures securely in his mouth while he chewed on venison.
Pre-1964 Model 70 Winchester Rifle
And while we’re on the subject of deer — and elk and antelope — what better to hunt them with than a legendary American rifle?
The bolt-action Winchester Model 70 has been around since the 1930s. The company still makes the Model 70 today, and it’s widely beloved by hunters for its rugged reliability and accuracy. It’s called “the rifleman’s rifle” for a reason.
However those made before 1964 hold a special place in the hearts of firearms enthusiasts. Wyoming gun experts say that before 1964, Winchester never skimped on the functionality of its Model 70 rifles. But there was a decline in some of the craftsmanship, such as the quality of the wood used in the gunstocks after.
If you can find one that’s in good shape before Christmas, the rifle shooter in your life will covet a pre-’64 Model 70. But, due to its collectability and iconic status, it’ll probably set you back at least a few thousand dollars.
6x6 Arctic Truck
And speaking of more than a few thousand dollars, we’ve come to the ultimate way to spoil your favorite Wyomingite – a six-wheel-drive truck that will go practically anywhere.
Arctic Trucks is an Icelandic company that’s been around for decades. It specializes in refurbishing vehicles to be able to handle the most brutal winter conditions on Earth. So, when the company decided to open its first shop in North America – Wyoming seemed to be the most logical place.
Using the mighty Ford F-350 as the base vehicle, the Arctic Trucks North America Shop in Cheyenne produces a beast. The team adds a third axle for six-wheel drive. And the inflation level of the oversized tires can be adjusted on the fly from the cab, so drivers can quickly adjust for deep snow, ice or whatever else comes their way.
Arctic Trucks built in the Cheynne shop proved their worth this year, making a drive all the way from Cheyenne to the Magnetic North Pole in extreme northern Canada.
Definitely a vehicle worthy of Wyoming winters – although it comes with a $400,000-plus price tag. So, you’ll really have to really, really like person you’re getting it for.
Mark Heinz can be reached at email@example.com.