The Beginning Hunter's Holiday Gift Guide 2014

hw

Chemical hand and toe warmers
$7-10 per box/grabberworld.com
When your extremities get cold, you just aren't going to enjoy hunting, no matter how old you are. But numb-hands syndrome is especially a day-ender for young hunters, which is why you should have numerous hand and foot warmers in your pack so you can extend your outing. A box of hand warmers is a perennial stocking stuffer at my house.

cabelahat

Cabela's Youth Fleece Watch Cap
$12/cabelas.com
Put one of these in each of your kids' stockings, and get a couple for yourself. These one-size-fits-all caps are surprisingly warm and wind-resisting and pack down to nothing when the sun comes out.

camknife

Camillus EDC3 pocket knife
$33/camillusknives.com
The foundational piece of gear for any hunter, this liner-lock knife is simple, strong, and affordable. The partially serrated blade cuts cord and leather, but the sharpenable portion of the AUS-8 blade takes and keeps a fine edge.

bipod

Redhead 3-in-1 Shooting Stick
$49/basspro.com
Let's face it, buck fever is a malady that knows no age. I still get hyped up every time I take aim at a doe, but young hunters can be completely unglued by the prospect of pulling the trigger, which is why this rock-solid shooting aid is a good investment. The adjustable tripod (it also works as a bipod and a monopod) extends to standing height but retracts to become even more stable in sitting positions. The gun yoke swivels with moving targets, and foam cushions on the legs muffle game-spooking clanks.

kamik

Kamik Coldcreek Thermal Boot
$169/kamik.com
I have three kids between ages 10 and 13, so keeping them all in decent footwear is not only an expense, it's a logistical challenge. But the one pair of boots that my kids fight over is Kamik's Coldcreek insulated boot. Why? Because it fits a variety of foot sizes, and it's warm as toast. The fleece lining mates up well with multiple layers of socks, and the drawstring at the top of the upper does a good job of containing heat. The shank is stiff for all-day hiking, and the tread sticks in mud and snow. Someday, I'll get back my boot, but until then the Kamiks are keeping my kids warm, dry, and happy in the brittle Montana winter.

bino

Weaver Classic binocular
$260/weaveroptics.com
A good optic does more than magnify objects; it keeps young hunters interested in the hunt, as they can evaluate distant bucks, study close-in squirrels, and even scout other hunters without dangerously peering through their riflescope. You can easily spend over a grand on optics, but for beginning hunters, look for an affordable binocular that's durable, compact, and features decent glass. There are plenty of these entry-level binos from companies like Bushnell, Nikon, and Vortex, but take a look at the Weaver Classic, a no-nonsense, good-enough optic that won't break the bank. Consider the 8x32, sized right for young hands and eyes.

henry

Henry AR-7 Survival Rifle
$290/henryrifles.com
I know this list is supposed to be focused on first-time hunters, but here's a gun that every clear-eyed shooter in the world wants, regardless of their age or hunting experience. It's a classic, Henry's take-down semi-auto .22 survival rifle that weighs 3.5 pounds and can punch 8 long-rifle rounds in a 3-inch circle at 25 yards all day long. I could tell you all about its utility as a small-game getter in survival situations, or its inclusion in most bush planes of the high north. But I'll just tell you it's a blast to shoot, and belongs behind the seat of every pickup truck in America.