Kill two birds with one stone this hunting season by doing all your holiday shopping while enjoying the great outdoors.
Some people might think of this form of multi-tasking as a lazy cop-out to fighting holiday shopping crowds, but honestly, an off-beaten path provides the best gift guide for lovers of the outdoors. Your family and friends will appreciate the uniqueness of your gifts, and the fact that there’s a piece of your outdoor experiences in all of them. Here’s a few ideas on where to start…
As the holiday season begins, you can gather a few items from the wild to gift as holiday home decor. Wreaths aren’t difficult to make with the right tools. You just need something doughnut shaped and a way to affix your organic materials to it. Even if you’re a little sloppy with the construction, you can toss a few bows on it and the effort in itself will be appreciated regardless.
Cedar branches not only have an aesthetic appeal, but they also have a naturally pleasing aroma. A few little pine cones and holiday holly branches might add a little character. Last but certainly not least, a little mistletoe is a good addition if you’re trying to earn some brownie points. While you can easily grab cedar and holly branches from the ground, most mistletoe is slightly out of reach. If you’re not up for climbing, bring a few target loads out in the field and aim to knock them out of the canopy. Holly is invasive, and mistletoe is actually a parasite. You’re practically doing the forest a favor. With a little festive foraging, you’ll be ready to deck the halls with parasites and invasive species.
Beyond wreaths, pine cones make for another easy hands-on and family friendly gift project. Most of us probably made pine cone bird feeders in elementary school. If you somehow missed out on that childhood activity, simply tie a string to the top of a pine cone, then spread peanut butter all over it. Fill a tray with bird seed, and roll the peanut butter covered pine cone in the seeds. Toss a little red bow on it, and you’ve got a holiday themed bird feeder.
If your friends are urban apartment city dwellers, you might just want to spraypaint your pine cones white or silver, then hit them with some spray adhesive and cover them in glitter. Now you’ve got a (mostly) all natural tree ornament. Ironically, you’re just returning the pine cone back to where it came from in the first place.
Preserve Wild Harvested Mushrooms
If you’re lucky, informed, and keep your eyes peeled, you might come across some mushrooms while you’re out in the field. Chanterelles are easy to identify and find, and once you’ve harvested a few pounds, you can place them in your food dehydrator and preserve them. While they can easily be reconstituted in boiling water, you can take things a step further by placing the dried mushrooms in a coffee bean grinder an turn them into a powder. The mushroom powder is a great addition to make a tasty broth, or mushroom gravy. You can save old spice bottles or put the powder in mason jars and be creative with your labeling.
Create Your Own Antler Art
If you come across some old sheds, or have antlers from past kills, you can use them to create antler art like coat racks, chandeliers, jewelry hangers, etc. You can get a head start on collecting antlers for these projects by learning how to build your own antler shed trap. Of course, the best gift is a cut from your kill. A neatly packaged venison summer sausage or pepperoni is a great little present of protein that blows those cheesy generic gift baskets out of the water. Good luck hunting!