Fishing & Boating News

Last minute shopping for an angler or hunter? Don't panic!

Self-proclaimed expert offers ideas on items for under $50

by: Crystal Myers,

(Dec. 18, 2010 - ) Last minute Christmas gift shopping can be pressure packed even when you share the exact same interests of the loved one, but it becomes much more challenging when trying to buy for a hunter or angler and you're not.

A stroll through the aisle of most any sporting goods store and seeing all the options of rods, reels, lures, gun cases, ammo cases, etc., can be intimidating to the point of so much frustration that the easiest option becomes the gift card. A better choice though, according to self-proclaimed last minute shopping expert Gary Dollahon, is to keep the selection simple, while showing you do have knowledge of what's needed for those activities.

Dollahon has been an avid outdoorsman for most of his 57 years and keeps a finger on the pulse of what's hot in that lifestyle through his career in the outdoors industry.

"I approach Christmas shopping just like I do my hunting and fishing," Dollahon explained. "That is, I have a game plan, I'm just not sure about what I'm going to find out there. So I go in knowing I'll have to adjust to the conditions. My intentions from the start are to combine practical with creativity, because I do prefer my gifts be more personal than a gift card."

Almost always willing to share his favorite fishing and hunting tips with those interested, Dollahon had no problem in offering advice for this season's final shopping days when we asked. As ground rules, we told him a recommended item couldn't exceed $50 and had to be something fairly common at a variety of retailers or easily found online. Here are his responses.

For the hunter:

  • Plano "soft" gun case. Go with a model that fits a scoped rifle, because it will also work for a shotgun should you not know the type of hunting your sports enthusiast prefers. Prices range from $19 - $49. For Santa's touch, add a warm stocking cap or pair of gloves inside.
  • Plano Protector Series bow case. This "hard" case will fit most compound bows and also holds arrows. Prices range from $35 - $49. For Santa's touch, add a small LED flashlight inside.
  • Plano field box. This is the durable molded plastic box similar to the old military-style metal box, but this one is lighter, won't rust and is easier to open. Prices range from $15 - $29. For Santa's touch, add a knife sharpener inside.

For the angler:

  • Plano tray tackle box. The traditional tackle box is always a good choice because it can hold everything from bug spray to lures to fishing reels. Consider at least a three-tray model. Prices range from $15 - $49, with a wide selection of options. For Santa's touch, add some packaged hooks and perhaps a lure or two.
  • Plano Guide Series waterproof case. This is an excellent choice for any sportsman because it keeps things dry - wallet, cell phone, matches, etc. Prices range from $10 - 40, with a variety of sizes to choose from. For Santa's touch, add a whistle or small first aid kit.
  • Plano Guide Series rod tube. This is a must-have for the traveling angler, especially ones who fly on occasion. Pick a model that can be extended to different lengths. Prices range from $25 - $49. For Santa's touch, roll up a variety of reel-care items in wrapping paper and include them inside, things like reel oil and grease or a miniature screwdriver set.

Of course, like most outdoorsmen, Dollahon also has his favorite ace-in-the-hole, never-fails tip, even when it comes to Christmas shopping.

"I might start my Christmas Eve shopping as Scrooge, but once I get started I often get on a roll. Even when struggling with a gift choice for someone, I always stay within my comfort zone. For the 'I have no idea what to get" person, I start with a Plano StowAway box in the 3700 series. Then, I start adding lots of miscellaneous items to put in its trays, arranging the changeable dividers accordingly. If they don't hunt or fish, I might include chewing gum, Tic-Tacs and playing cards, or I could go a stapler, machine screws and a multi-purpose tool. Flexibility is the key."

Dollahon says he also often likes to add the "sporting" element to his gift StowAway, putting notes in the trays directing the one who opens the package to go on a scavenger hunt of sorts to find the hidden contents for it.

"Outdoorsmen are accustomed to hunting or fishing for things, so why not add that to the fun. You can get as creative as you want on the notes, but don't spill the beans on what they're looking for ... just give them the 'where' to look in the clues. For example, if hiding a lure in your kitchen's silverware drawer the note could read, 'Fish like shiny things and this drawer's full of silvery objects. Look here and we'll fork this one over.' This can be a fun process for 4 - 5 items, making it somewhat easy to find each one."

Fishing items are always a good choice for these fill-ins because they are relatively small and inexpensive, and the same is true for many related accessories. Dollahon says there are plenty of no-brainer choices, even for winter fishing. The list that follows is what he considers must-haves for today's angler.

Bass baits:
Gene Larew Biffle Bugs
Gene Larew Biffle HardHeads
Jewel Swim It jig
Jewel Squirrel Head

Crappie baits:
Bobby Garland Baby Shad
Bobby Garland Scent Wiggl'R
Bobby Garland Mo' Glo Jigheads

Striper/white bass baits
Hyper Striper lures
Big Strike jigheads

Fishing accessories:
Lew's fishing pliers (from the makers of Lew's rods and reels)
Hound Dog lure retriever

For more information about each of these items, plus to get other product ideas from the same companies, visit their respective web sites: PlanoMolding, GeneLarewLuresLews, JewelBait and KGEnterprise.

"Last minute Christmas shopping can be fun and I hope some of these ideas will help in your efforts," Dollahon added. "I'll be watching for you out there with me on this Christmas Eve. Merry Christmas!"