Winged Wisdom

All I Want For Christmas List

by Kate Ahnstrom

All I want for Christmas is enough money to support my hunting habits and addictions. And a couple thousand acres of prime Montana real estate. I mean, since we are playing hypothetical, might as well do it up! Christmas is just around the corner and it’s an incredible time of year mixed with a big dose of stress. Everyone is zipping around trying to buy the “perfect” gift. What constitutes the “perfect” gift?

   It should be meaningful. Something that lasts for more than a few moments and creates joy for the recipient for years to come. It should be a gift that can be shared and enjoyed by the recipient anytime he/she so chooses. It should be the gift of HUNTING.

   How do you box that up and wrap it? Simple. I offered this exact gift to one of my dearest friends. So far, he’s enjoyed woodcock hunting over my pups and a day in a deer blind at one of my hunt leases.    

  We’ll toss in some rabbit and squirrel hunting next month along with an upland experience to round it all out. He has thanked me profusely at the end of each of these experiences and we usually cap the trip off with either lunch or dinner. It’s an experience. An opportunity to make memories that last a lifetime and if you’re lucky, add some meat to the freezer to last the season. 

   For those that have a private hunt lease, this is easy and just a matter of coordinating schedules with the recipient. Not everyone is so lucky as to have that kind of land access.    

  This year, I’ve been exploring more public land. Mike and I have a nice private lease but there is a true sense of accomplishment that lies in being able to utilize public land and come out successful. For the woodcock hunt I took my friend on, we drove to a WMA and had a great time! It’s actually going to become a regular spot for us so big win all around. The VDWR has a great resource of land options on their website:

  If the land you have selected isn’t too far away, drive over and scout it out. Get an idea of best place to park, trails that lead to optimum grounds for whatever you are chasing and all the details you can so that the hunting experience is as seamless as possible. Top it off by finding a local eatery or even brewery for after the hunt. Create a whole experience. Whenever Mike and I gift experiences to people they talk about it for years to come and appreciate the unique and exciting adventure.

  Still trying to figure out how to present such a gift while maintaining the excitement of tearing through shiny wrapping paper? Get creative on your computer. Create a few vouchers or certificates and wrap those in a box or place into a fancy, festive envelope.    

   While you’re at it, purchase a membership to an organization for the year. If this is someone new to hunting, it will offer a support system and a network on which they can rely for resources and education. If they are a lifelong hunter, it will help to reinvigorate them in their passions and share their tremendous experience, expertise and knowledge with the next generation. 

    A few of my favorite include Quail Forever, Delta Waterfowl, Ducks Unlimited, Ruffed Grouse Society and Pheasants Forever. There is a local chapter close to you and they all tend to have a great presence on social media or the internet to make it easier to locate meetings and events. All of these organizations work hard to keep monies local and make a huge impact for hunters right here in Virginia. It’s a great way to get involved and make sure that our hunting traditions and land access are here for generations to come. 

   Once you’ve created this amazing gift, if Va Shooting Sports can assist in anyway, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We are always excited to see the next generation solid in fundamentals and eager to get out on the hunt field! 

   From all of us at Virginia Shooting Sports and Blue Kai Kennels, thank you for a fantastic 2023! Have a very Merry Christmas and a happy and hunting filled New Year!

Kate Ahnstrom, owner of Virginia Shooting Sports is a certified, professional instructor of the Paragon School of Sporting, pro staff Syren/Caesar Guerini, resident pro Orapax Hunting Preserve, Artemis ambassador for Virginia and field staff member of the Sisterhood of the Outdoors. Her tireless dedication to her students’ success is obvious in each and every lesson.

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