Most sportsmen – and their families – are less than "wild" about bucking crowds and gift shopping during the December hunting seasons.
So, one of the easiest ways to ease the burden of gift giving is to visit the Pennsylvania Game Commission website http://www.pgc . state.pa.us and shop for items listed at "The Outdoor Shop." There one finds everything from unique one-of-a-kind items to stocking suffer that not only will please outdoors enthusiasts, but money generated for the sales supports PGC wildlife management programs.
One gift that's always in demand is the agency's full-color calendar, which sells for $8.95. For 2013, the calendar features wildlife photos taken by current and retired agency employees, and each month features a full-color photo of the following wildlife species: screech owl, muskrat, Carolina wren, turkey gobbler, Eastern bluebird, black bear, bald eagles, whitetail deer, bull elk, drake wood duck and ruffed grouse.
For those who own the series of PGC turkey box calls, a display case that holds all five calls and a frame that holds five patches that were offered from 2007 through 2011. Both the display case, which sells for $65, and patch frame, which sells for $35.85, were designed by Top Calls, of Renovo, and are handcrafted from Pennsylvania cherry wood.
A limited supply of the 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 Upland Game Bird Knives and Turkey Calls are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Prints are available from 2007 through 2011.
Other patches include the 2012 "Working Together for Wildlife," which features cedar waxwings. Also, the "We Need Wildlife" series, which currently features one patch with a male cardinal and another with a female cardinal, is scheduled to change to a pileated woodpecker in the near future, so this may be the last chance to purchase the cardinal series.
Patches to commemorate the state's annual elk hunt are available, from 2001 through 2012, except for the 2004 elk hunt patch, which sold out. There are a limited number of 2005 elk hunt patches, and a new six-inch Bald Eagle Restoration Patch commemorating Pennsylvania's 200th bald eagle nest is available for $18.87.
Lastly, the annual patch to highlight "Field Notes," the popular submissions that appear in the agency's monthly magazine, the "Pennsylvania Game News," are available from 2004 through 2012. All of these patches sell for $5.66, plus shipping and handling and sales tax.
To assist first-time birders, as well as seasoned bird watchers, the PGC is selling a book titled, "The Birds of Pennsylvania" written by Franklin Haas and Roger Burrows and sells for $17.92. This book is a complete guide to identifying Pennsylvania wild birds, and features 295 of the bird species most likely to be found in the Commonwealth.
Each species' account includes at least one detailed color illustration and covers natural history, the species range here, nesting details, preferred habitat, songs, best sites for viewing, similar species and much more. It has a color-coded tab index that makes it easy to thumb directly to any desired section.
One of the more unique products is the PGC two-disk DVD series, produced by Jerry Chiappetta and featuring certified master chef Milos Cihelka, "Wild Game Field Care and Cooking" and "Upland Game Birds, Small Game & Waterfowl." They show step-by-step the best care for game animals from the field to the table and each DVD sells for $18.87.
Other gift ideas range from as little as $5.50 for a "Waterfowl Stamp," which can be used as stocking stuffers, to the "Working Together for Wildlife" or "Waterfowl Stamp" fine-art prints, which cost up to $135. Revenues generated from the sale of waterfowl stamps and fine-art prints are used by the PGC to acquire and improve State Game Lands and preserve critical habitats, such as wetlands; and for other wildlife research and management programs.
Other books on a variety of outdoors-related topics are also available, as well as subscriptions to "Pennsylvania Game News." There are also items such as posters, hats and even a 15-inch bear for the plush toy collector, which sells for $29.95.