The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

December 10, 2011

ARLENE JOHNS | Finding a gift that is on-target

Arlene Johns

— Joe is having trouble deciding what he wants for Christmas.

The poor guy is agonizing over which of three gifts he should ask for.

On the one hand, a pair of snowmobile bibs would be great. He has a new sled to try out as soon as Jackson Township is blessed with 6 or more inches of snow. His current bibs apparently allow snow to blow in the cracks. Perhaps there is something more airtight?

I’ve checked NASA’s website, but they don’t seem to have anything like that for sale. And even if they did, would a nice shade of shiny silver really match the sled?

Another option is something that would be both practical and entertaining.

A hunter since he was old enough to wear the orange hat, my husband has every gadget necessary for a successful hunt.

Although I hear how much deer meat cuts down on our food budget, I’m not convinced.

He has about $20,000 worth of equipment to bring in that 40 pounds of fresh meat.

But just when I think he has everything he could ever want to bag the elusive buck, he finds something new.

This year it is a hunter’s safety vest. No, I’m not talking about the blaze orange garment that lets everyone within a five-mile radius tell the difference between the hunter and the hunted.

This vest is supposed to keep the hunter from falling from the 20-foot tree stand he parks himself on at 4:30 in the morning.

I guess I can see how that could help. Joe falls asleep standing during church, so I am pretty sure he catches a few winks on his precarious perch.

We checked out the vests the other day at Gander Mountain.

There were several to choose from. The most inexpensive looked good to me until Joe picked it up to try it on.

Belts and buckles fell from everywhere!

I just couldn’t imagine how long it would take Joe to put that thing on. He would either have to start dressing the night before the big hunt or he wouldn’t get into the woods until 10 o’clock – long after the big bucks had exited the woods.

And once garbed in the lifesaving vest, I was not sure Joe would be able to figure out how to clip himself to the tree.

I could just imagine him hanging by an ankle from a branch 20 feet above the ground.

No, if Santa goes for the vest, he might as well go for the user-friendly $200 model.

Joe’s other gift option is an electric smoker.

For sure, he already has one that seems to do a fine job making the six varieties of jerky, meat sticks and bologna he proudly hands out to anyone brave enough to give it a taste.

But an electric smoker would allow for more output than the charcoal one.

Just last night he picked up a kit to make meat sticks.

As soon as we got home, he took it apart and eagerly started reading the directions.

“Hey Hon,” he said. “This kit has enough casing for 46 feet of meat sticks. That’s almost as long as the house.”

I wonder if you can use meat sticks to lash yourself to a tree stand 20 feet in the air?

Arlene Johns is The Tribune-Democrat’s city editor.

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