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Staff file photo / Santa Claus is probably too busy to notice, but hunters know the days approaching the Christmas season are stocked with fleeting opportunities to be in the field in pursuit of game, including deer. This only adds to "Guns & Cornbread" columnist Larry Case's dread of shopping for the big holiday.

Just to be blunt about it: I really like Christmas, but I don't like Christmas shopping.

I know I am not alone in this, but I figured it best to get it out of the way. In my estimation, the female portion of the population doesn't have much of an idea how the male of the species stresses over the whole Christmas gift search. I know that may be a terrible, sexist thing to say, but there it is.

Under full disclosure here, I will admit the last-minute search for Christmas presents (is there any other way to do it?) does interfere with several hunting seasons and activities. The week or two before Christmas (traditionally when I do all of my shopping) is rife with several hunting opportunities.

The fall turkey season is going on in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and a certain brown dog keeps reminding me of this. The bear season is going in both of the Virginias. Also, now is really the time for squirrel hunting if you are following a squirrel dog through the hardwoods (I don't have a cur right now, but I am looking). And let us not forget we will have some doe days after Christmas to stock up on venison.

So if you are an avid sportsman, this time of year can be busy. The added stress of shopping for presents (when most of the time we don't have a clue what we are looking for) doesn't help.

Since I started down this trail of writing (still don't know exactly where it is going) I have met so many wonderful people. Writers, editors (yes, some of them are great individuals) and various people in the outdoors industry representing everything from gun companies to knives, optics and camo clothing, plus all of you out there who take to the time to read my sometimes ill-chosen words. I couldn't name all of you if I tried.

Some of us still send out Christmas cards at this time of year, and as you might suspect, almost all of these that come from the Case household are sent out by my much better half. As I fly up and down the highways looking for a squirrel or a turkey, I think about how I should be telling each of you "Merry Christmas," and Lord knows I couldn't find a gift for everyone if I had shopped every day since spring turkey season.

What I can do is wish each of you, there in your world, a Christmas wish — for you, your family and your hunting and fishing buds, now and into the new year to come.

I wish for you to have bright sunrises with all of the things a day in the field on God's earth can bring. I wish for you to get there safely, to have an unforgettable day with friends who will be around for years to come, and to then return to home and hearth. I wish for the birds to hold for the dogs, your squirrels to tree on the outside and the turkeys to gobble like there is no tomorrow.

I wish for the water to always be just right for you fishermen, and that the bass, trout, and walleyes bite like you remember they did back in the day. I wish for your boat to always be running, for your casting to do nothing but improve and that somehow your old favorite bait shop reopens. I want you to have fair winds, fair skies and go to the water every day you can.

I wish this Christmas for your old dog to have a few more years and your new puppy to somehow figure it out and show you promise you had given up on. I wish for you get to hunt or fish with your grandson or granddaughter every last time you want to, and that they come to cherish these days afield as much as you. For you younger parents, I wish for you to realize in your days afield that the times in the woods your kids will remember will not always be filled with big bucks and full limits. The times they will remember will be when they see how you truly wanted to take them along and show them the world of hunting and the outdoors. It is something you can't really explain; you just have to show them.

Speaking of not being able to explain, I am not doing such a great job here, but maybe you get the idea.

I wish for all of you, my wonderful readers and all of my outdoors friends, from the sunny South to the Land of the Midnight Sun, to have the most wonderful Christmas and a new year filled with bright promise and an adventure to look forward to.

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Contributed photo / Larry Case

"Guns & Cornbread" is written by Larry Case, who lives in Fayette County, W.Va. You can write to him at larryocase3@gmail.com.

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