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Father's Day gifts for outdoors dads

Sometimes the best gift Dad's can get is a smiling child in the outdoors.

If you are like most people, gift giving is an adventure best left to the last minute. If your Dad is a sportsman, then here are a few things you can pick up locally to bring a smile to his face. If you are the Dad, here are some things that every guy should have.

Regardless of your budget, there are multiple items that he will enjoy that do not involve ties or socks, although good warm socks are always on my Christmas list. For an idea under $25, consider a portable battery pack for his phone. These small packs are a great addition to the boat or the hunting backpack. Being able check the weather, text, or read, all help to pass the time while in the stand or when the fish are not biting. Also, the portable batteries can be used as the primary battery from an interior pocket, keeping your battery warm and your phone working in the frigid cold.

For a budget in the $25-$50 range, a digital or wireless meat thermometer is helpful if Dad is a griller, too. Along that same avenue, a high-quality insulated mugs are always in need.

For items in the $50-$75 range, consider an insulated bait cooler for that die-hard fishing Dad. These coolers typically have a 12-volt aerator built into the side. If he is more of a hunter, then high-quality electronic ear protection may be more appropriate. I prefer the 3M Peltor line, which are affordable and deliver great results. After a box of clay targets, even the most stubborn shooter will find them better than traditional ear plugs. They can be found at the big box stores and local sporting good shops.

If you really have a big budget for dad, then two things come to mind. First, I have never met a hunter that cannot use a (or another) good set of binoculars. While you usually get what you pay for in binoculars, I have found that the Vortex line is as good of value as any. I even bought a set for my wife on Valentine’s Day a few years ago, without much grief. Clear optics are a must for anyone that loves the outdoors.

If Dad is picky about his gear, and I know the feeling, then maybe a gift card from one of our local outdoor gear and bait shops would be best. We are fortunate to have some of the most experienced individuals running our locally-owned outdoor stores. Having spent too much money at several of them, the knowledge and customer service at these outfits are second to none. They can help find that item he has been thinking about purchasing, but did not want to spend the money.

Overall, the greatest gift you can give Dad will not cost you any money, just your time.

As a father, all the gear in the world is nice, but having my kids on the water or in the field with me is worth more than dollars. Simple things like taking him out to the shooting range or the sporting clays course will bring smiles all day.

Last Father’s Day, my son, then 7, told me he was taking me fishing. I melted on the spot and probably picked up my camera more than I did my pole. Now that Illinois has made Father’s Day weekend the annual free fishing weekend, there is no excuse for missing that chance to share a day casting a line with Dad.

Illinois Free Fishing Days run Friday through Monday. For more information on fishing in Illinois, visit ifishillinois.org.

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