At least I got the part correct about the sleigh being red and all.
Of course my Hyundai Tucson is fueled by a V6 engine with a whale lot more horsepower than that provided by Santa's eight tiny reindeer (nine, if you count Rudolf).
Our respective missions, however, are similar in a number of respects. Santa delivers the stuff to good little boys and girls.
Meanwhile, I set about Wednesday - and several days earlier - delivering "thank-you" gifts to landowners who allow me to fish for steelhead on their properties as well as those landowners who permit to seek ducks, wild turkeys, deer and small-game on their farms and rural real estate.
For many years now I've used the week before Christmas to make my run; one being about 25 miles round-trip and the other about 120-miles round trip. This year everyone got a decorative decanter of home-made maple syrup; liquid gold that my wife and I produced last spring in our own backyard sugar-bush.
Some people might say this is all a bribe. If that's what you think, fine. How I view it is appreciation for allowing me the opportunity to trespass. This has earned me more than my share of fish and game for the freezer as well as the chance to work my dogs, forget about the pressures of work for a while and take my wife, grandchildren, grand-nephew, brothers, sister and friends for a few hour of hunting and fishing.
So what if I go overboard, spending around $200 or more for the gifts, their containers and baskets and similar goodies? These are all fine folk and it shows that they appreciate as much my thoughtfulness as I appreciate their thoughtfulness.
Surprisingly a lot of other hunters and anglers fail in this mission, maybe sending a greeting card or making a cheery telephone call around the holidays. But not much more, if at all.
But my older brother Terry and I believe that a token of appreciation is always well accepted. That's why Terry gives out more than one canned ham or frozen turkey every holiday season.
Besides, it's a lot of fun and I enjoy the smile on the faces of the recipients. In one case I had the homeowner come out of his house after i dropped off the syrup and tell me how much he and his wife love the sweet treat, looking forward to it every Christmas season. Another recipient even sent an e-mail to me saying how much they liked the gift, too.
No question this is a feel-good deal that runs up and down both sides of the street. But it also is something (I believe) that more hunters, anglers, sportsmen should think about doing.
And it's not too late to play Santa, either. After-Christmas sales will happen starting Saturday, and even if the gift is one of those ubiquitous cheese-sausage-cracker gift boxes it really is the thought that counts.
So buckle up, put on your best holiday face and blaze orange suit and greet the landowners who let YOU hunt and fish with the most hearty "Ho-ho-ho, Merry Christmas" that you can muster. They'll thank you and you'll feel downright pleased with yourself.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn