Outdoors: Celebrate Christmas with the Cody's

Bundle up and come tour Buffalo Bill’s Ranch where every room of the mansion, Scout’s Rest Ranch Barn and the ground are decorated for this year’s Christmas at the Cody’s event.

Bundle up and enjoy another great year of Christmas spirit starting on Friday at Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park.

The Christmas at the Cody’s event is truly a special one that our entire community can enjoy. Every year, many area organizations decorate every nook and cranny of the mansion turning the home into a seasonal wonderland. Along with the Cody mansion, the outbuildings and grounds and Scout’s Rest Ranch Barn is decorated and lit up to bring visitors holiday cheer.

Buffalo Bill and wife Louisa will welcome you to their home where local artists and musicians provide entertainment in the piano room as guests tour the mansion. Take the chill away with hot cider, Christmas cookies and roasted chestnuts in the old storehouse outside the mansion.

Hayrack rides will take folks around the grounds of the state historical park to see all the lights as carolers sing favorite yuletides. Santa will be taking Christmas wishes in the Scout’s Rest Ranch Barn along with fun crafts, games and other activities for everyone to enjoy. A Military Appreciation Tree can be adorned with a special service member’s name written on an ornament.

Dates for Christmas at the Cody’s are Dec. 8-10; 15-17; 22 and 23, from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Admission is $7 per person, $5 for kids ages 4-12, and kids ages 3 and younger are free. All military and first responders receive free entry on Dec. 16 for the Military and First Responder Appreciation night.

Thanks to all the volunteers that help make this event possible. Come one, come all and get your fill of Christmas Cheer at Buffalo Bill Ranch.

Gifts for outdoor enthusiasts

With Christmas weeks away, consider a gift of the outdoors for the outdoor enthusiast on your Christmas list. Great gift ideas to stuff your outdoor enthusiasts stocking with include 2017 Nebraska hunting and fishing permit, habitat stamps and aquatic habitat stamps, park permits and a state and federal water fowl stamp.

Keep in mind you will need to know birth dates, height, weight, eye and hair color, and the last four digits of the person’s social security number when purchasing permits. Permits are available from permit venders or online at outdoornebraska.org.

Subscriptions to outdoor magazines are always a super gift and can be obtained easily. Purchase a magazine, get the renewal notice out of the magazine and send it in. Roll the magazine up and tie a bow and a note around it stating the length of the subscription you purchased for the person.

Popular magazines are NEBRASKAland Magazine, where you can read articles by me, visit the Game and Parks website to get a subscription. Field and Stream, Outdoor Life and Great Plains Game and Fish are a few more, there are several to choose from.

Binoculars are always a popular gift giving idea. They work for bird watchers, anglers and hunters, and can fit into any budget. When purchasing binoculars look at the power. On the upper surface of your binoculars you’ll find two numbers, for example 7x35 or 10x40. The first number is the magnification power of the binoculars — 7x or seven power means the binoculars make subjects appear seven times closer than without magnification. The second number is the diameter of the binoculars’ objective lenses in millimeters, and is related to the binoculars’ brightness.

Most bird watchers prefer 7x or 8x binoculars mainly because the more powerful your binoculars, the harder they are to hold steady for comfortable viewing.

There are also the nice little odds and ends gifts that are sure to please any outdoors enthusiast including gloves, hand warmers, hats, neck gators and socks. Outdoor journals, pocket gun cleaning kits, dry bags, a compass, folding shovels, gun cases, hydration packs for hikers, a shell and bird belt, two way radios, cell phone cases and portable chargers, ice fishing equipment, gear bags, jerky and nuts are useful and reasonably priced gifts.

Don’t forget other affordable stocking stuffers; duck, goose and deer calls, shooting sticks, gas cards, ear muffs, fillet knives, pocket-size knife sharpeners, flash lights, head lamps, light weight glove liners and gun slings to name a few more. And if all else fails gifts cards for a favorite outdoor store are a sure bet.

Experience gifts

For the person that has everything, give an experience gift. These can be some of the most unique Christmas gifts often bringing a welcome change of pace.

Experience gifts should be closely related to the interests of your recipient. An enthusiastic outdoors person would love a chance to spend the day hiking or fishing at a beautiful park where you can purchase their lodging or camping fees. If you know someone that is really daring give them the gift of ski diving, white river rafting or keep it in state and do some tanking or kayaking. For the woman in your life give a paid registration to the Becoming an Outdoors Woman workshop to enhance their skills. Experience gifts can also work well as a family gift.

Gifts for kids

There are many creative gifts that parents or grandparents can put together that will thrill their young outdoor enthusiast.

If that youngster is interested in fishing make them a tackle box and purchase small items like hooks, sinkers, thin pencil floats, split shot, swivels, spinners, crankbaits, long-nosed pliers for removing hooks and a nice little stringer for fish.

With the popularity of archery, any youngster would love to have a starter bow and arrow. There are even Nerf brand bows and arrows to get even the youngest little shooter outside and shooting targets.

How about turkey or waterfowl calls for each up and coming turkey or waterfowl hunter? Sling shots and targets can bring hours of fun and family competitions along with BB guns. Always help youngsters learn correct safety, gun handling and targets.

Outdoor related gifts will get your youngster outside where they can start their own outdoor experiences and learn to love the outdoors, which is the best gift of all.

Christmas bird count in North Platte

The Christmas Bird Count is a 100-plus year program hosted by the National Audubon Society. This early-winter bird census is conducted with the help of thousands of volunteers across the US, Canada and many countries in the Western Hemisphere that count birds over a 24-hour period. Data collected from this count has become one of two large accumulations of information that inform ornithologists and conservation biologists of the status of bird populations across North America.

Groups of birdwatchers will gather for the annual Christmas Bird Count in North Platte on Dec. 18 where birdwatchers count as many different bird species as possible. You don’t have to be an expert to participate.

For more information or to register for this event, call the North Platte Game and Parks office at 308-535-8025.

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