Howard Delo

A week from today is Christmas. In this current politically and pandemically confused society, keep in mind the reason for the celebration of this holiday. We celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Take time to reflect on what that event has meant to our relationship with God the Father. Remember, if you’re grumping about our political atmosphere (like I am), that God is in charge and has a plan.

We got distracted last week while suggesting Christmas gift ideas for your favorite outdoors person with the news of the federal ban on commercial salmon fishing in a large part of Cook Inlet. I’ll comment more on that later. Let’s finish the gift suggestions first.

If your nimrod’s camping style allows, having a grate and cast-iron frying pan or Dutch oven to use for those campsite meals is always appreciated. These items serve very well for preparing that shoreside lunch of freshly caught fish you might occasionally enjoy or for the hot meal you wanted during that last cold weather icefishing trip. Once properly seasoned and cared for, that cast-iron pan will last for generations.

I’m old enough now that sleeping on the ground no longer appeals to me. A few years ago, I bought a heavy-duty cot. When using it on my caribou hunt a couple of years ago, I discovered the concept of having to “climb out” of the cot to get up. That was no fun. I later bought a foam mattress specifically designed to use for the size cot I had. Not only does it “fill up” the space on the cot, but it also provided insulation underneath me when using the cot in an unheated tent. Both the cot and the mattress are available locally.

I generally use either a gas or propane cooking stove when camping. However, occasionally, it’s fun to do something different. That’s where the cast-iron suggestion comes from. Since I’m also a blackpowder person at heart, a few years ago, I found a relatively inexpensive steel tripod to position over the campfire for hanging a Dutch oven or a coffee pot while heating. Again, these items depend on camping style. A minimalist would never consider this stuff.

An item I’ve never personally used but which seems to be quite popular among the backpacking crowd is a gadget called a Jet Boil. This cooking item apparently heats water/food items very quickly and is small enough to easily fit in a backpack. I know several hunters who swear by them while out in the field.

Another item that anyone spending time outdoors would appreciate is a good knife. There are so many uses while hunting, fishing, camping, or hiking that this could be a difficult item to gift, unless the recipient has indicated a specific make and model of knife they would like. There are general purpose blades, and then filleting, skinning, boning, caping, “survival,” and many other specialty style blade shapes.

I’ve accumulated about four lifetimes worth of knives over the years and the one I seem to use most daily is a folding, “trapper” style, pocketknife with locking blades. If I’m hunting or fishing, I’ll take the knife most appropriate to the expected job, but the little trapper is also in my pocket for the everyday chores that still exist, even on a hunting or fishing trip.

We’ll end this suggestion list with the idea of giving a gift card for the appropriate store your person enjoys exploring. That gets you off the hook for trying to “guess” what your recipient might like while showing you appreciate their interests. That’s what I usually suggest my wife get for me, and I’ll indicate which store I’m interested in that year.

Now, back to the federal commercial salmon fisheries closures in Cook Inlet. I was wondering how the feds would approach the threatened or endangered status of the beluga whale in these waters. When an animal falls into that category, oftentimes the feds will restrict human-created activities in the area where the animal is found.

The option of federal take-over of management in federal waters raised the possibility of closures to commercial salmon fishing because of the disturbances the boats and nets make in the water column. With the total closure of commercial salmon fishing in these federal waters, the problem of disturbance is eliminated, along with a more abundant food source being available to the mammals.

I would like to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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