As the time approaches for jolly old St. Nicholas to load up the sleigh again, it’s time for another round of Christmas gift suggestions from yours truly.
This week, we’ll start the holiday shopping for an outdoorsman on your list with a few big gift ideas. While this week’s selection tends towards the expensive side of things, few of these will be easily forgotten come next summer.
So if you’re looking for something with a little more staying power than a tie or sweater, give these big ticket gift ideas some consideration:
A New Bow — If you’re a bowhunter, then stepping into Orvie Cantrell, Jr.’s Big O’s Archery Shop in Sherman (903-870-2114) brings the same kind of feeling that many of us used to get as kids when the Sears Roebuck & Company Christmas Wishbook Catalog would arrive in the mailbox.
If that’s how someone on your Christmas list feels about the pastime of bowhunting, then a gift from Big O’s (see the shop’s Facebook page or visit in person at 1520 Texoma Parkway) is probably a can’t miss item to place under the tree this year for the morning of Dec. 25th.
For starters, there’s a new lineup of 2020 compound bows to consider. From BowTech’s Revolt and Revolt X models to Mathews’ new VXR in the 28- and 31.5-inch lengths to Hoyt’s Carbon RX-4 Alpha and Axius Alpha compounds, there’s something for every bowhunter on your list.
If you need something else other than a new bow, Cantrell has a shop full of SureFire flashlights, Sitka Gear clothing, Danner boots, hunting optics, treestands, arrows, broadheads, targets, and plenty of other archery hunting accessories.
Traeger Pro 34 Smoker — Let me put it simply: if yours truly can turn out good brisket, ribs and barbecue on a Traeger (TraegerGrills.com) smoker, then so can you!
Available at North Texas stores like Home Depot, Cabela’s, and Bass Pro Shops, Traeger smokers use real wood pellets (as do others like the Green Mountain Grills at NTX BBQ Supply across from Munson Stadium in Denison) that come in a number of hardwood and mixed flavor options.
As one of the pioneers in the wood pellet smoker industry, Traeger smokers push the pellets into a fire pot by way of an electronic auger system, maintaining a desired temperature as smoke and heat bathe your meat selection with tasty low-and-slow barbecuing results.
With a great Traeger smartphone app that includes hundreds of recipes, plentiful cooking tips, and ample how-to instruction content and videos, the company offers great advice and superb customer service to help you get the unit set up out of the box and ready to cook.
When you’re ready to go, simply pour the wood pellets into the hopper, fire the smoker up, set it to the desired temperature setting (select 2019 and 2020 models offer new WiFi temperature control capabilities), insert the temperature probe into the meat, follow the recipe instructions and cooking times and then get ready for some great holiday eating that is straight off of Santa’s latest gift!
Sitka Gear Whitetail Fanatic Bibs and Jacket — In recent years, this Bozeman, Mont. based company has helped turn the hunting clothes industry upside down with quality designs and yearly product innovation straight from the minds of hardcore hunters who live to chase whitetails, elk, waterfowl and even upland game.
They’ve done it again with a newly revamped Fanatic Series in the company’s Whitetail gear lineup.
After getting to see this gear in the Gore laboratories on the East Coast earlier this year, I was impressed by the quiet and warm nature of the bibs, jacket and accessories offered by Sitka Gear, all in the company’s GORE OPTIFADE Concealment Elevated II pattern.
But I was really blown away by the lineup’s worth a couple of weeks ago while hunting in cold and windy Nebraska. Despite hunting all day for four days straight, I NEVER got cold despite temperatures in the 20s, 30s, and 40s along with wind chills that were much lower than that. For a Texas guy who gets cold quite easily, that’s saying something!
While I was rifle hunting, the Fanatic lineup is tailor made for bowhunters thanks to durable and quiet outer shell materials including Berber fleece and high-end fabrics. Add Gore’s WINDSTOPPER laminate lining and micro fleece insulation for warmth and you’ll stay quiet and comfortable even on all-day sits on a cold and windy deer stand.
While some point to Sitka Gear’s higher price tag and look elsewhere, others see such gear purchases as a longtime investment in quality that works. After a week in chilly Nebraska, count me in the latter group — when it’s cold and you’re chasing the buck of your dreams, I’d say Fanatic gear is well worth the money and then some.
For more on Sitka Gear’s Fanatic lineup and the company’s other hunting clothes and gear, check the Web at SitkaGear.com or visit Orvie Cantrell’s Big O’s Archery in Sherman.
Maven Binoculars — As a direct to consumer optics manufacturer based in Wyoming, I’ve used a pair of Maven binoculars the past couple of years through two football seasons and in my deer hunting adventures. In fact, I’ve got a set in the deer blind that I’m occupying right now as I write this.
What I’ve found is that I really like Maven optics (MavenBuilt.com) a lot. Why? Because they offer top end quality, superb brightness and contrast, and very good edge to edge clarity in a tough, moderately weighted package.
For those wanting the best, the extra low-dispersion (ED) glass and multi-coated lenses of the Maven B.1 brings high-end European like optical quality - in 8x42, 10x42, and 12x42 models - at a price tag under $1,000, half of what elite optics cost from the other side of the Atlantic. And if you need a lesser priced option, the C.1 binos are pretty good too with a price tag of around $300.
To be truthful, I had hoped to one day own a set of Europe’s best binos. But with Maven, I don’t need to because these optics from the heart of the American West are just as good if not better. Plenty of others apparently agree with my sentiments as a quick glance at enthusiastic user reviews on Amazon.com reveals.
Bottom line, I’d say that just about any hunting enthusiast on your holiday shopping list would enjoy finding a pair of Maven binoculars under the tree on Christmas morning.
DiamondBlade Knives — I’ve referenced Denison resident Charles Allen many times over the years and for good reason.
Allen has turned his Texomaland company DiamondBlade Knives (903-786-8044; DiamondBladeKnives.com) into one of the outdoor world’s premiere cutlery companies over the past decade plus. So much so that his company’s patented friction forging knife making process was recently featured on a 2019 episode of the Discovery Channel’s long running show “How It’s Made.”
That manufacturing process creates what is arguably the world’s best overall hunting knife, one that Allen and a couple of his Brigham Young University metallurgy friends, Dr. Tracy Nelson and Dr. Carl Sorensen, designed more than a decade ago.
When Allen first introduced me to the DiamondBlade knives he was making back in 2006, it didn’t take long to figure out that the local D-Town company had hit not only a home run, but a walk-off grand slam in the knife making industry.
Based upon the Friction Stir Processing (FSP) of hard metals, the technology was applied to knife making, resulting in one of the biggest — if not the biggest — revolutions in the knife-making industry in several decades.
But don’t take my word for it. Instead, take extensive machine testing — including hundreds of repetitive cuts on 1/2-inch manila rope with the CATRA (Cutlery Allied Trade Research Association) Razor Edge Sharpness Tester — as proof.
As I wrap up this week’s gift ideas story, let me say that I don’t think you can go wrong with a DiamondBlade Knife as a Christmas present for a hunter on your list.
While the Monarch I folder that I’ve carried in my hunting pack for more than a decade now is no longer offered, others like the Summit and Alpha folders and the Heritage, Summit, and Alpha II fixed blades are.
To see these knives in person — and to purchase a DiamondBlade Knife for a Christmas gift — stop by the company’s headquarters at 3100 Airport Drive in Denison.
The guess here is that a gift from Allen’s shop is sure to bring a smile on Christmas morning, no matter what DiamondBlade model that good old St. Nick ends up delivering!