Keep these big outdoor gift ideas in mind while shopping

By Lynn Burkhead
For the Herald Democrat

Obviously, Christmas 2020 is going to look and feel different for many this year due to the pandemic, so here’s hoping that you’ve got a head start on your holiday shopping plans as we all try to figure out the new normal.

If not — and if there’s a hunter, angler or outdoors enthusiast on your gift list — maybe this “Big Ticket Gift Idea” story will help ease your December shopping chores just a little bit, whether that's online or in person.

Knives of Alaska Boning Knife — High end knives are a sure attention getter for any outdoorsmen searching for a package under the tree later this month. That’s because a great knife is a necessary part of field dressing and butchering venison to carving the holiday turkey to even slicing up a brisket freshly pulled from the smoker out back.

If that sounds like a good idea for someone on your list, consider a brand new product from Knives of Alaska, the local knife making company near North Texas Regional Airport that is owned and operated by Denison’s Charles Allen.

Allen’s company has recently announced its new KOA Professional Boning Knife, the perfect blade to slice up steaks from a venison hindquarter, take the backstraps out of a freshly downed wild boar, or trim the fat away from a brisket before its hours long bath in smoke and slow heat. Built with D2 Tool Steel, the boning knife has a full tang, black Suregrip handle, a blade length of 5.50-inches, an overall length of 9.75-inches, a non-glare finish, a weight of 3.8-ounces, and a made in the USA, lifetime guarantee.

Coming in both flexible and semi-flexible options, this boning knife will handle a lot of meat-making chores from wild game to fish to poultry to a big brisket, at any easy to handle cost of $49.99. To find out more about the new KOA Boning Knife, visit KOA at 3100 Airport Drive in Denison, call 903-786-7366, or go online at

Backyard Cooking Gear — Speaking of brisket, one possible gift item sure to put a smile on the face of a cooking enthusiast on your holiday shopping list is a new smoker.

If that person is serious about their cooking, you might discretely ask what their brand and gear preferences are, because backyard chefs can be a bit particular on what they want when it comes to cookers, Dutch ovens, spices, and more.

For a cooking unit itself, it’s hard to go wrong with a Texas standard, the big offset barrel type of smokers used in barbecue establishments all across the state. That includes Franklin Barbecue ( in Austin where Aaron Franklin has become a household name in recent years.

Aaron not only sells briskets in ATX these days through curbside pickup and online shipping (until the in-person restaurant is able to reopen), but he also sells a custom built barrel smoker similar to the ones he uses at his iconic BBQ shop in the Capitol City. Keep in mind that these high-end, made in the USA smokers are heavy, expensive ($2,950), take time to purchase (there’s a waiting list), produce and ship.

They’ll also require a load of wood — or sticks, as some call the pieces of post oak, hickory, or pecan. All of that aside, for now, a gift card announcing the coming smoker will do and they’ll last a virtual lifetime. For information on Franklin BBQ pits, visit

Another cooking option under this subject heading is a brand new smoker from Traeger, the pioneering pellet grill/smoker giant that helped accelerate the backyard barbecue wood-fired smoke craze a number of years ago. I’m partial to the bronze topped Traeger Texas Elite 34 or the Traeger Pro 780 with WiFIRE technology, but the cooking process is the same for any of the Traeger grill/smoker units.

That’s because when using a Traeger, it’s as simple as getting your food ready to smoke or cook, filling the pellet hopper with the real wood pellets of your choice (there are different wood types and flavor options), and turning the unit on to allow the auger-driven system to slowly keep a fresh supply of pellets heading into the fire chamber.

For more info, visit a local Traeger dealer like Home Depot or Academy or go online at

Sitka Gear Clothing — Put simply, almost every piece of Sitka Gear I’ve ever owned has been among the best hunting duds I’ve had in my closet during a lifetime of heading afield.

There are a number of choices that you can’t go wrong with when it comes to the Montana based company’s waterfowl, big game, and whitetail hunting clothing systems, but I’m extremely partial to the Fanatic series in Sitka Gear’s Whitetail lineup. I’m a hard hunter to keep warm, but the Fanatic lineup in Gore’s Optifade Elevated II camo pattern does just that.

With Texas-friendly Subalpine and Open Country camo patterns, along with Waterfowl Marsh and Timber patterns available, there’s certainly something for the Lone Star State deer, duck, or turkey hunter on your list.

In my opinion, like most high quality gear that is built to last, it’s worth it over the long haul. To see the latest from the Sitka Gear lineup, either visit or stop by Orvie Cantrell, Jr.’s Big O’s Archery Shop in Sherman (you can also call Orvie at 903-870-2114).

New Bow, Rifle or Shotgun — This might be the ultimate big ticket gift item for the hunter on your list.

For a new bow, keep in mind new offerings from Hoyt, BowTech, or Mathews, all available at Big O’s Archery Shop in Sherman. The new V3 from Mathews is getting rave reviews and Cantrell’s longtime archery shop is the place to see, shoot, and purchase this flagship bow model that is brand new for 2021.

For a new shotgun, it’s hard to go wrong with a Benelli Super Black Eagle III, arguably the flagship shotgun for waterfowlers and spring turkey hunters out there, no matter whether it’s a limit of quackers, honkers, or longbeards that they seek.

If it’s deer or big game that your hunter likes to chase each autumn, a new rifle from Browning, Savage Arms, Mossberg, T/C, or Weatherby is a good idea, either in a time-honored .270 or 30.06 chambering or something newer like the 6.5 Creedmoor.

Guided Trip — This might be the simplest shopping suggestion of all if you’re looking for a big ticket gift item to slip under the tree or into a stocking for the hunter or fisherman on your list.

If so, why not consider a guided trip for stripers, largemouths, ducks, deer, turkeys, or some other species like redfish along the Texas Gulf Coast? There are plenty of options here and look for more on this topic in coming weeks.

Well, that’s enough for now and there will be more gift suggestions in the coming weeks of December. Until then, safe shopping and Merry Christmas!