Grown-Up Christmas List

As we mature, holiday wish lists change in two ways: We aim higher, and we’re done waiting for someone else to buy us what we want.

The big reward for tucking away a few bucks from every paycheck is that you wind up with some money in the bank. And when you really want something, you don’t have to ask Santa or anyone else to bring it. (You just go get it and justify the purchase later.)

There’s the holiday list we share with family, which is and should include items that are both affordable and practical. And there’s the personal list, the super-cool and highly specific things we want but can’t risk asking someone else—anyone else—to select for us.

I want a drone as badly as I wanted a digital camera when they were launched. A drone costs anywhere from $75 to $5,000. Maybe less, but I don’t want something that’ll fall apart on its first flight. And maybe more, but I’m not trying to produce an HBO documentary here.

My drone would/will be used to take overhead video of lakes and ponds I fish in hopes of finding underwater structure not visible from banks or boat. It would/will let me peek into thick brush to maybe figure out where bucks hide or pigs sleep on warm days.

And, I suppose, it could be used to create memories of family gatherings or baseball games or other events of interest.

I’m undecided on the new “smart” watches but know they’re here to stay, same as contemporary phone technology. Samsung and Apple are the front-runners as best I can determine, and prices range from roughly $200-$400. (If you must, there is a gold Apple Watch that runs $12,000.)

Average for high-tech “wristwear” isn’t as much as I expected, and I’d bet that it—just like the smartphones—will become increasingly affordable. I’m thinking about it.

As a hunter, I’m eyeing night-vision technology, probably in a rifle scope so that I can join the many outdoors men who aren’t satisfied with only hunting pigs during the day. My friend Scott Null put a night vision scope on a favorite rifle several years ago, and pigs on his place near Seadrift paid a steep price. He even has 360-degree night vision now on an all-terrain vehicle at a ranch he manages in South Texas. (All that, no closed season, no bag limit and almost no restrictions on hunting methods, and we still can’t slow growth of the nation’s wild-hog population.)

Unless you’re an owl or a cat, seeing in the dark isn’t cheap. Entry-level gear, which isn’t the most effective, costs a little north of $600. The better night vision and infrared-imaging scopes I found run several thousand dollars.

As a fisherman, I can’t help but dream of new toys. Standup paddleboards seemed poised to grab a share of the shallow-water fishing market from kayaks, then kayaks countered with pedal power. Then a few kayak manufacturers added the capability to pedal backward or forward.

Both “boats” appeal to me. I own two traditional fishing kayaks now and recently have considered, more than once, selling both and replacing them with a paddleboard and a pedal-powered kayak. A good paddleboard, built and configured specifically for fishing, paces around $1,000. The pedaled kayaks, ready for fishing (but still without electronics, which also make my list), fall close on either side of $2,500.

And I want a new shotgun, and some reels, new rods and while I’m at it, maybe a shiny new all-terrain vehicle. And a trailer to pull behind the all terrain vehicle so I can haul all that new stuff at once. That’s all on my personal list.

The list that’s shared with family hasn’t changed in years: shirts, socks, maybe a wallet or a belt. I won’t buy that stuff for myself, because I’m too busy shopping for drones and kayaks and infrared scopes.

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