Athens Review, Athens, Texas

December 15, 2012

A holiday gift list packed with presents sure to unwrap a smile

Matt Williams
The Athens Review

Athens — Christmas is just around the corner and the clock is ticking down fast. If this one is like most, quite a few holiday shoppers may still be scratching their heads as they hunt and fish for the perfect present for sportsmen and women on their shopping lists.

 I'll be the first to tell you that buying a gift for a the hook-and-bullet type can be risky business. This holds especially true when it involves a novice buying for someone who is really passionate about their game.

 My advice to anyone facing this dilemma is to ask lots of questions before you pull the trigger on a gift. Otherwise, you could wind up wasting money on an item that will never see daylight after it is unwrapped.

 To wit:

 A new spincasting outfit might look nice under the Christmas tree, but it will probably wind up gathering dust in a corner if the person it is meant for never uses light tackle when they fish.

 The same could be said for sunglasses. Sunglasses are a personal thing. Just because you think they look good or fit comfortably doesn't mean the person on your shopping list will.

 The best policy for situations when you just aren't sure is to stick with basics. Here are a here are few gifts that just about any outdoors type will appreciate:

SOG Dark Energy Flashlight

 There are a ton of compact flashlights out there and this one packs as much punch as any I have ever seen. Producing 247 lumens, the stylish SOG DE-02 cuts the darkness with a super bright beam that will blind a feral hog or light up the tree tops. Built using premium components including a durable T6 aluminum housing and a reliable push button switch that allows for high, low and strobe operation. Comes with two CR123 batteries, heavy duty pocket clips and a lifetime warranty. MSRP, $130.00; I found them at for around $90. Contact:

B&C Book: Records of North American Whitetail Deer

 If there is a whitetail hunter on your shopping list, you can't go wrong with the Boone and Crockett Club's newest publication, Records of North American Whitetail Deer, 5th Edition.

The 582-page hard back is packed with photos and data including individual state breakdowns that list more than 12,000 top scoring bucks by county, all-time and state rank.

Also included are informative chapters on deer breeding behavior, management strategies and more written by some of the nation's top authorities on whitetails.

Retails for $34.95 without a B&C member discount. or call 888-840-4868.

Gift Cards

 If you are unsure about what to buy, a pre-paid gift card may be the safest route go. It is also the easiest, because it saves time and the hassle of wading through crowded shopping malls and department stores. With a gift card in hand a person can buy whatever they want, so long as it falls within the price range specified by the card. Most sporting goods retailers like Bass Pro Shops, Cabelas, Academy, Wal-Mart and Gander Mountain offer gift cards at a variety price points. In most cases the cards can be purchased over the Internet using a credit card.

SOG Fixed BladeLight

 Here's a new twist on hunting knives that allows for skinning game after dark without juggling a sharp blade in one hand and flashlight in the other. SOG's new BladeLight is equipped with six LED's fitted around the handle that displace 25 lumens of bright light on either side of the blade when the push button is on.

Features a high quality stainless blade (5.7 inches) and a hard nylon sheath with widow cutouts so the knife can be used to light the way when walking after dark.

Uses one AA battery and includes detachable case for extras. Rated for full immersion in water. MSRP, $115. Available at for around $65. Contact:

A Badge, a Gun and a Prayer

 The life of a Texas game warden is apt to lead down a wide variety of paths. Retired Major Larry Williford of Central captures the good bad the ugly of the profession in is his new book, A Badge, a Gun and A Prayer: Stories from the Heart of a Texas Game Warden.

The 128-page paperback chronicles Williford's 35-year career as an East Texas warden with a series of colorful short stories that depict the peculiar, dangerous and often entertaining situations our public servants sometimes find themselves in when chasing crooks in the woods, performing routine patrols off the beaten path or dealing with the tangled web of politics so influential with the state agency's decision makers in Austin. The book is available through Neches River River Press, P.O. Box 90363, Austin, Tx. 78709-0363. The cost is $21.50, which includes tax and shipping.

CHANNELLOCK 317 Longnose Pliers

 If there is one tool you can never have too many of it is needlenose pliers. I try to keep a set in my truck, jeep and both boats at all times. The list of possible uses are endless, regardless if you are in the woods, on the water or on the road. CHANNELLOCK's longnose pliers are second to none when it comes to quality, craftsmanship and their ability to reach into tight places. The eight-inch pliers feature 2.36 inch jaws that are stamped with a non-slip crosshatch pattern, a side cutter and treated electronically to prevent rust. At $19.99, the pliers are an affordable stocking stuffer that even the most consummate sportsman will appreciate.

Leatherman AL Charge

 Leatherman has been an industry leader in the tool industry for years and the company's AL Charge clearly defines what a multi-tool should be. The tool includes 17 useful tools and eight screwdriver bits that tuck neatly inside the hard-anodized aluminum handles and lock in place when opened.

Comes with a quick-release lanyard ring, a 25-year warranty and a leather or nylon sheath. Sells for $149.

 Matt Williams is a freelance writer based in Nacogdoches. He can be reached by e-mail,