On Friday, December 14, 2012, Ruth and I were in the Elkins InterMountain newsroom preparing last week's column, when I got word about the school shooting in Newtown, Conn. Twenty children, ages six and seven, along with seven adults, were murdered in this latest massacre. For the next 10 to 15 minutes, I was absolutely livid.
I have watched the national news quite closely since then, and it is clearly obvious the heated gun control debate is going to be in the news for the next several weeks, maybe months.
I have told several of my friends, there can't help but be hundreds of angry parents, grandparents, family members, relatives, and friends of the children and adults who were slain.
This senseless tragedy cannot be adequately described by the English language. Enough said, because this column is supposed to be about the "great outdoors" and outdoor activities.
Another Christmas season is upon us, and this is supposed to be the happiest time of the year. I have said before, outdoors people are not difficult to please when it comes to exchanging Christmas gifts.
I don't know how many times I purchased a hunting license for my father's Christmas present. Any hunter or angler, who does not have a lifetime license, should appreciate a gift license for 2013. These can be purchased at www.wvhunt.com or www.fish.com, or by calling 304-558-2771.
For the people who don't hunt or fish, but still like to be outdoors, maybe a subscription to Wonderful West Virginia magazine could fit the bill.
The 2013 West Virginia Wildlife Calendar is a nice gift for any person who likes wildlife and/or art. These calendars only cost $10.00 and are full of interesting information.
There are also gift cards for the State parks that can be used for lodging, dining, gift shops, and other activities that charge a fee. These cards can be obtained at www.wvstateparks.com or call 304-558-2764 ext. 51828.
I think it was my first Christmas after being released from the United States Navy when my mother asked me what I would like for christmas. My answer was somewhat unexpected when I replied, "a book of all the large-scale county maps that is put out by the State Department of Highways". For me, this was a great Christmas gift. If this book is still available, it would be quite expensive.
The West Virginia Atlas and Gazetteer, published by DeLorme, is inexpensive and is available at Wal-Mart or just about any bookstore.
This is more than a detailed topographic map book, but there are also listings of outdoor recreation, places to go, and things to do.
It always seems like nimrods and anglers are running out of heavy socks and gloves. Each hunting season, I am always in need of a new pair of long john underwear. Any outdoors person should appreciate getting something like this for a Christmas gift. There is also myriad guns or fishing rods and reels that any avid fan would appreciate receiving for Christmas.
For the person who likes to handload his or her own ammunition, reloading components (bullets, primers, smokeless powder) would make a suitable Christmas gift. This is a person who does a lot of target shooting at a range. I know from experience this person will always be in need of paper targets which are quite inexpensive.
In closing, I would like to wish all of my readers a joyful Merry Christmas in spite of what has been in the news for the past week. So for what's left of this holiday season, let's all try to do our best to be happy and merry.