Rumor has it that the bearded man who lives north of here is making his list and checking it twice. He wants to see if we've been naughty or nice.

I'm hoping he's in a jolly mood when the big day finally arrives. The area's sportsmen could use a few gifts this year.

While I'm not a big fan of asking for handouts, there's little doubt that those of us who spend a good amount of time outdoors could use all the graciousness we can get. We've dealt with a lot of coal in our stockings over the last couple of years.

At the top of my wish list this year is a gift every deer hunter should ask for. I'd like nothing better than to get word that Pennsylvania's deer herd has escaped a run-in with chronic wasting disease. There's a chance we may get lucky. So far there's no evidence from the Game Commission that shows the disease has spread from the deer held in captivity to the state's wild whitetail herd. Let's hope it stays that way. It'd be a great gift for any hunter.

Next on my list is a present for anybody who yearns for the pull of a feisty smallmouth bass on the end of his line. The anglers that fish the Susquehanna have not had a heck of a lot to smile about in recent years.

It seems like just when the smallmouth population starts to rebound, we get word of a new disease or a fresh outbreak of lesions on the red-eyed fish. But there's hope. In fact, we may have already been given our present.

I talked to a lot of anglers this year and many of them reported catching plenty of undersized smallmouth. Normally, a slew of small fish is nothing to celebrate. We're after the lunkers, right? But when it comes to rebuilding the Susquehanna's bass population, long-term success is all about having a string of successful spawns.

There was strong evidence of a healthy spawn early this summer, so with a little luck and maybe a gift or two from Mother Nature, we can string together a rebound. It'd be a fantastic gift.

And finally, I feel like I'm wasting time even writing it, but I wish those hooligans in Washington would keep their hands off the tax dollars that rightfully belong to the nation's sportsmen.

I understand the art of negotiation and the coercion that goes with it. But the money in the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust funds has nothing to do with the black hole of debt Washington got itself into.

Only politicians could make us happy when they slap a flashy ribbon on our own money and hand it back to us. But even so, it would be a fine gift.

The deck certainly seems stacked against us these days. But remember, this is the season of miracles. If we put enough cookies by the fireplace, we may just get a gift or two.

Andy Snyder writes about the outdoors for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at sports@york