The overnight freezing rain and sleet left an icy glaze on the streets, trees, power lines and anything else that didn’t have the ability to find a way indoors, and conditions won’t improve for at least a couple of days.

I read that on a friend’s social media Saturday morning while I was walking around in the 70-degree weather, sporting summer attire while my dog chased rabbits and squirrels through the brush and up the trees. But hundreds of miles north of Central Texas, my family and friends in Indiana were watching the ice thicken on their world and hoping the power lines would hold.

My dad once told me that when he was growing up in the Midwest the ground would usually be frozen solid by Christmas, and whenever a pet died, people often kept the body in a freezer until the next spring, when the ground had thawed enough to shovel out a grave. I thanked him for moving to Texas.

Granted, it’ll be cold here for a few days – even cold enough to support an ice storm if there was any precipitation on the way – but we’re fortunate to live in a place where ice and snow usually clear out within a day or two instead of taking months to melt.

In fact, hardly a week goes by during the winter months that our weather doesn’t turn unseasonably nice and warm, making outdoor activities a real recreational option year-round. Boat ramps, campgrounds, golf courses and other outdoor facilities don’t shut down for the season in our area; in fact, some stay pretty busy and crowded.

That’s why if you buy a loved one the gift of the outdoors this Christmas, you’ll be giving them something they won’t have to wait to use.

There are a number of area fishing guides who’d be happy to sign off on a gift certificate, and although a guided trip doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to catch fish, you’ll be a lot more likely to find success fishing with somebody who’s on the lake every day and knows the current feeding and location patterns.

Hunting guides and leases also offer expert support and accessibility to prime hunting land, and with Saturday’s opening of the dove season’s second split (it runs through Jan. 8), teamed with open deer, turkey, duck and goose seasons, the gift of a hunt can also be redeemed right away. A Google search will point the way to outfitters, lodges, and leases.

Giving the gift of gear can be a little tricky. Whether through superstition, tradition, or just personal preference, most outdoorsmen are particular about the products and gear they use. As the number of sporting goods and outdoor retail stores continues to grow across our area, chances are good that you’ll find whatever you’re after. If you’re not sure what to buy, a gift card is not only a present to open on Christmas Eve, but it also gives your hunter, angler, or camper the equivalent of a kid getting a gift card to a candy store.

Outdoor-related gifts are a good way to introduce young people to the outdoor sports, and with the population of hunters and anglers aging out, this is a way to boost the chances that fishing, hunting, and camping will remain viable and relevant to future generations. The torch ain’t gonna just light itself.

Still time to hunt

Not every Christmas gathering is made of the same stuff as a Jimmy Stewart movie. But if you find yourself wanting to wander off into the woods this holiday season, you can still blow off more than just a little steam.

You’ve got another week to take a whitetail deer and Rio Grande turkey, as their seasons run through New Year’s Day. Duck and goose seasons are open through Jan. 29, and if you can find a covey of quail to shoot at, you can do so until sunset on Feb. 26. Snipe hunting with guns is legal through Feb. 12 – after that, you’ll have to resort to bagging them with sticks.


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