Chad Love: Checking Off My Christmas Wish List

Well, Christmas has come and gone once again. The relatives have all gone back to wherever it is relatives come from, the food has all been consumed, the boxes and wrapping paper are on the curb waiting for the trash truck and it's now time to sit back, spread your newly-acquired booty on the floor in front of you and check off what you wanted versus what you actually got.

Here's what I wanted:

1. The "Tarpon" DVD
I first read about it over on the Flytalk blog. Prior to that I had frankly never heard of it, but the director, Guy de la Valdene, is a wonderful bird-hunting writer and of course Jim Harrison, Tom McGuane and Richard Brautigan are legends. Since then I've viewed the trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7dSXWIc_Ug4 approximately 1,347 times. It's absolutely enthralling. I can only imagine what the entire DVD is like. Guess I'll have to, since no one got it for me...

2. Shimano Calcutta 100 TE
I absolutely love round baitcasters. ABUs, Daiwas, Shimanos, I've got a ton of them. Of the lot my favorites have always been Shimano Calcuttas, and of the Calcuttas I would say the Shimano Calcutta 100 TE is my ultimate round baitcaster, but it's not. The Japanese-market-only Conquest version of the TE wears that label, but at close to $500 from the enthusiast-market importers, I figured I'd be realistic and stick with the $350 U.S. market TE for my Christmas list. As it turns out, I should have just kept on dreaming big, because price is no object when it comes to things you never got...

3. A vintage Leupold M8 straight-tube fixed 3X scope. Simply one of the best hunting scopes ever made. Leupold stopped making them years ago, and - when you can find them - used specimens now command more than what they originally retailed for. Years ago when I was young(er) I bought a cherry 3X M8 in a pawn shop, stuck it on my old vintage FN Mauser and killed much with it. I then went temporarily insane and traded it for, hell, something. I can't even remember what. I've regretted it ever since. My regret continues...

4. A Beretta A400, just like Phil Bourjaily's
This may sound like heresy, and it probably is, but I'm tired of duck hunting with my 870. Don't get me wrong, I love my 870, and I'll never get rid of it. I traded a set of golf clubs for it when I was 16 years old and to this day it remains the best trade I ever made. I've killed a flyway's worth of ducks with it, but lately I've been really feeling the urge to try a softer-shooting gas auto. Don't ask me why. Maybe I'm getting old and soft. At $1,600, I won't even complain about not getting this one, but I can still dream, right?

5. A new bird dog pup, maybe a nice little setter or Brittany. A few years ago my beloved little female pointer died of pancreatic failure, and I've been pointing dogless ever since. I love my chessies, always will, but they're not pointing dogs and lately I've been feeling that tug to watch a dog, my dog, lock up on a covey of quail. There wasn't one waiting for me under the tree this year, but there are always a lot of nice litters born in the early spring...

And here's what I got:

The privilege of spending Christmas with my family and the joy of watching my children open their presents, which is of course a far more precious gift than anything money can buy (But just in case there's any wealthy readers out there taking pity on me, I'm left-handed but I use right-handed reels and guns and I'm really kind of partial to English setters...).

Anyone else make out like a bandit over Christmas?