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Kenny's Corner - Christmas Edition

by Kenny Gasaway

Christmas Gift Advice

This is the time of year I get the annual calls from female companions of my hunting friends and acquaintances asking me for Christmas gift ideas for their favorite hunter. The best answer usually is a gift certificate to a sporting goods store or a store with a good sporting goods department. Unfortunately, ladies themselves normally do not like to give or receive a gift certificate, as they find them not very personal, so often they wind up purchasing the man in their life something he will be “stuck” with forever.

Over the years, I have seen men wearing camouflage that is loud in both noise and color, with “swards” hanging from their belts that, while beautiful, would not be worth a dime for skinning game, and shiny new guns with enough chrome to scare off a buck or turkey from a half-mile away.

We men are pretty particular about our hunting equipment, and there is no better way to make sure we get what we want (and need) than by giving us a gift certificate. I know that a gift certificate is not considered very romantic, but, as most of our women know, during hunting season we are not romantic anyway.

If we had our way, in fall we would simply walk out in our back yard, bite some twigs on an overhanging limb, scrape the ground below with our foot, urinate right there and wait.

If left up to us, in the spring we would take off our shirts, suck in our bellies, puff out our chests and strut around hoping to excite our “soulmate.” Ladies, if you want to please your hunter man, stop thinking like ladies and simply buy him a gift certificate.

Yes, we are that shallow.

Now, for you men...PLEASE do not give the love of your life a gift certificate! We already barely make it through each hunting season without getting divorced.

Now, I know many of you have wives and girlfriends who hunt and fish. That is great! But, when choosing a gift for them, DO NOT get them something to be used while hunting or fishing.

You can buy those things for them later, just as you would a washer, dryer or vacuum cleaner. (Note to my clueless men brothers: NEVER buy a female any gift that she can in any way consider as having anything to do with work).

It is also not a good idea to give your significant other an exercise machine on any occasion! Get your lady something that a lady would like. Show her that she is more than a hunting buddy, a cook or housekeeper.

You might have to suffer through a few “chick flicks” or call a few of her girlfriends to see what would be a good gift, but be sure to get her something nice that has nothing to do with you or hunting and/or fishing.

Asking her what she wants, or actually listening to what she has been saying to you for the last six months, might be a good idea as well. By the way, this advice also works for birthdays and Mother’s Day.

You must remember she is who SHE is – NOT who you think she should be or what you tell your friends she is. We might sometimes get a little upset when our wives and girlfriends cannot remember how many deer we killed or how big they were after having a great hunting season.

But, if you are honest with yourself, you will realize that we can’t tell them a single important thing that happened in their lives during the same time period.

When we come home from work and she starts telling us all the events of her day, and our first response is a smile followed quickly by, “I wonder what the wind direction will be this weekend,” you can bet she is secretly hoping it blows right toward the deer.

Ladies, what it all boils down to is we hunting men do not deserve a thoughtful gift. But, my dear hunting brothers, you had better put a lot of effort into choosing hers!

Rudolph Better Watch Out

Speaking of Christmas, I certainly hope we experience a frost by the time it rolls around this month. I cannot remember a more humid archery season followed by a more unseasonably warm muzzleloader season.

Just days before the start of general gun season, it was downright hot and a hurricane was threatening the Panhandle! It comes as no surprise to me that I am still “buckless” at this point of the season, but if Christmas Eve comes around and I am still “snake bit,” I might shoot Rudolph right off my roof, should I be lucky enough to have a visit from the “Jolly Big Fat One.”

I was never too impressed with Mr. Claus anyway. I got reasonable gifts growing up as a child, but I knew I was a better kid than some of the rich kids in town, and they always got much nicer things than I did.

I lived on the north side of town, so he should not have run out of the good stuff before he got to my house, yet those rich kids to the south always seemed to come out a little better. Maybe he is really from the South Pole?

Wiregrass vs. Live Oaks - Part III

The ongoing wiregrass vs. live oaks issue has generated some interesting emails addressed to me.

If any of you haven't already, please go to the FWC website and read the explanation and the scientific reasons for cutting down the live oaks (“Biologists return state lands to natural state,” under Press Releases - October).

I have been accused as being the headwater of the river of opposition to this project, and while I have voiced some opposition, my words have been kind when compared to those I have heard from dozens of other hunters.

I often get quoted as having said things that I didn’t say, only because I was present while it was being said by someone else. Some of the things I've heard I wish I had been the first to say, but others have been crude and vulgar, and I am almost too close to being professional to say such things (much less put in print).

Those in favor of this project are true conservationists, and I am sure that in their hearts and minds it is a good thing. I have been accused of “not getting it,” but I actually do “get it.” I just do not happen to agree with it. And in my own ignorant (I’ve been accused of being that too) opinion, I have said (and still say) it is a stupid idea.

As for my influence through this column, I doubt my opinion is anything more than just “preaching to the choir” to many who read it, and maybe insulting to a few who support this project.

It has been proven in many cases, especially when alleged scientific studies are done, that hunters’ opinions do not really matter anyway.

I can only say that, in several locations where I have seen the oaks cut in the last couple of years, no wiregrass has been planted, no prescribed burning has been conducted, and palmettos and small oaks are coming back.

I have heard the complaints from various state workers (such as highway maintenance employees, teachers and FWC personnel) that budgets have been cut. I understand budgets very well, as I am in part responsible for one that is quite large for the company I have been employed with for 37 years.

I have seen projects started and never finished due to budget cuts. I cannot believe that the state will actually follow through with this program, knowing the costs will be much higher than one might think.

Why not cut the live oaks and other “nuisance” hardwoods, root rake the palmettos, plant the wiregrass and control burn the area before randomly cutting more timber? Why not complete one project in a test area first, rather than cutting and leaving (as has been done off of Davies Road in Half Moon WMA)?

I was told there were studies conducted at UF on this and related subjects. So? One example of another college study came to mind as I watched the news a few weeks back when it was reported that two colleges up north had completed a study that confirmed that sending text messages while driving could result in a car wreck. Wow! What smart kids!

Another example is one I was personally involved with. In one of my college science classes we pulled the leg from a grasshopper and told it to jump. It would immediately jump. But, when we had pulled off the sixth and final leg and told it to jump, it didn’t move. We concluded that once all the legs had been removed from a grasshopper, it became deaf.

I know there are ecosystems that are in peril. I understand that under stories are a concern. My position on this subject will not change, however, so if it makes those members of “The Dead Oaks Society” feel better, assume me to be the ignorant redneck that I am proud to be, and allow me to continue enjoying the sight of live oaks, some that only bear acorns once every several years.

This debate is over. Most hunters do not like the idea. There are nearly 18,000,000 other folks in Florida who might need some education on why we are doing this, and how we justify the cost. Some of those state troopers, teachers, members of the Arbor Society and other tree-loving organizations.

I’ve wasted space for three months on this issue, and the voice of hunters will not be heard anyway.

In closing, remember the families of those who were murdered by the radical Islamic terrorist that was somehow allowed in our military, and remember those who have lost loved ones overseas fighting for our right to debate such silly things such as wiregrass vs. live oaks.

It will be a sad Christmas for them. Keep them in your prayers.

Kenny Gasaway is a member of the Florida Outdoor Writer’s Association (F.O.W.A.) who has hunted turkeys since 1965 and exclusively hunted Florida public lands (wildlife management areas) since 1973. He can be reached at [email protected]