By Nicholas St. Jolie

“Late in the season for a holiday Gift Guide,” you say?  Perhaps.  But as all outdoor enthusiasts know, seasons may change, but the joy inherent in their unique aspects remains constant.

“It is better to give than to receive” is the complete thought.  There is no record of an iteration that includes the limitation of “during the holiday season.”  The unique joys inherent in giving may be experienced year round.

All of that being noted, let’s move forward on the assumption that the holiday spirit lies within us all –and that giving is its ultimate stimulant.

Below is a totally subjective list of gift options that entice me and will capture the hearts of just about every outdoor enthusiast.  It’s short but, in terms of areas of interest, wide.  From the meticulous to the sublime, I’ve tried to cover the bases.  Just about all of the recommendations have been highlighted in OEL Magazine’ series, and I’ve reproduced, in part, the site’s original descriptions wherever possible.

To read the original reviews, visit



FAMARS – Striving for perfection, Famars describes its firearms thusly: “Each day in Brecia, Italy, the Silicon Valley of gun makers, our craftsmen at FAMARS work each minute of every hour to keep true to the tradition of gun making; continuing to create all of our firearms by hand. Hand shaped, personally fit, and engraved with the finest detail, we at FAMARS are proud to continue in the footsteps that Mario Abbiaticao and Remo Salvinelli made so prominent back nearly 60 years ago.”

PURDY – Established in 1814 and arguably one of the widest known and most deeply coveted brands, Purdey epitomizes the aesthetic of British aristocracy.  Its London home in Mayfair could not be more fitting.

Side-by-side (with its revered Beesley action) and over-and-under shotguns are in every technical aspect beyond reproach.  Engravings, in terms of media and design, are stately, elegant celebrations of the sporting/shooting life as enjoyed by royalty and the greater privileged class.

PETER HOFER – If passing the test of time is any measure of a firearm manufacturer’s worth, then it is tough to quarrel with Peter Hofer.  From the company’s website: “The seed for every new weapon model is sown in perfection and technical ingenuity, where the design and mechanics of the weapon are conceived and developed. A 500-year-old craftsman tradition is the foundation of our skill and know-how; it is the basis for the development of new and innovative weapon models.

“Every single weapon out of Peter Hofer’s workshop is the proud result of this unbroken tradition. Peter Hofer continues adding to this tradition with a high measure of innovation and new technical developments.”



BENCHMADE GRIPTILIAN KNIVES – A If pure functional excellence is what you seek, you are seeking the Griptillian line from Benchmade.   From the company’s website: “The Benchmade adventure began when Les de Asis wanted a knife that reflected the latest in materials and manufacturing technology to replace the cheap butterfly knives, known as Bali-Songs, he played with as a kid. Using his high-school shop skills, he blueprinted his dream knife before eventually meeting Victor Anselmo, who helped to grind the first ever pre-Benchmade Bali-Song® prototype.

So does Benchmade live up to its hype?  The line of Griptillian everyday carry knives provides the answer in the form of a resounding “YES!”  Infinitely customizable in terms of size, handle color, and other factors, this line will not be outmatched in terms of quality and functionality.

WILLIAM HENRY – Best known as a creator of fine jewelry for men, William Henry offers a collection of pocket knives combining the rarest, most sought-after hardwoods, precious stones, and other exotic decorative elements (including fossil mammoth teeth!) with hand-forged Damascus blades.

The result: functional art in its most rarefied state.

With the highest standards of design and construction as givens, the only thing left to do is see for yourself the extraordinary beauty of William Henry pocket knives.



KA-BAR BECKER BK2 “CAMPANION” FIXED BLADE KNIFE – The Ka-Bar Becker BK2 Campanion, with its 5.25 inch drop point blade and Ultramid handle, is extremely popular – and will good reason.  We’re talking rock-solid construction and high carbon tool steel.  You can hone this baby to the finest edge.

The ergonomics of the grip, combined with its toughness, supports a wide range of uses in camp and in the bush.  And at a plus/minus $70 price point, the Campanion is broadly accessible.


KA-BAR BECKER U.S. MARINE CORP FIGHTING UTILITY KNIFE – The name should ring a bell.  What we have in the KA-BAR USMC knife is a fighting instrument that has made its bones – if you’ll excuse the expression – in combat around the world.  But it also serves honorable as a utility knife of the sort you can count on in the most demanding – and threatening – situations.

Here is a classic Bowie knife design in seven-inch configuration with high carbon tool steel in a black, corrosion resistant coating.  As a survival knife, this is as heavy duty as they come.  True aficionados will appreciate the handle, made from leather discs (sealed to defeat moisture) and with a double finger guard at one end and a steel pommel cap on the other (perfect balance).



Black ABEL SUPER SERIES 9/10 IN BLACK – Just as rods have become stronger and lighter, the Super 9/10N has become the reel of choice for anglers looking for a light weight 9 & 10 weight setup. Designed for some of their larger quarry such as Permit, big bull Redfish, and King Salmon. What these fly fishers have realized is that the Super 9/10N has both the backing capacity necessary to keep these big boys on the hook, and the stop-a-sub® drag strength to bring them to hand.

ABEL TROUT SERIES TR2 IN BROWN – Most medium-to-large trout rivers demand a 5- or 6-weight rod to make those distance casts to larger fish really count. The TR2 is built for the angler who prefers the bigger water, but likes simple and classic gear.



HOBIE MIRAGE PRO ANGLER 17-T – With innovative multiple seating options for one or two casters, the 17T is the king of Pro Anglers.  Set up the fully adjustable Vantage XT Seating (extra tall) in the in-line tandem configuration (guide style), face- to-face (ideal for fishing with small fry), or as a single (so much space!); three steering handles cover all the possibilities. Fishing rod storage both front and rear holds an astounding dozen rods—bring the entire quiver.

Customize accessory placement on more than 20 feet of H-Rail system. Both users can stand and fish in comfort and each cockpit is fitted with a large rectangular hatch with pivoting tackle management system; there’s even additional under-seat storage. An aft battery platform stands ready to house a 12v trolling motor battery, a cooler or crate to carry even more gear.


HOBIE ODYSSEY — The Odyssey is Hobie’s ultimate two-person paddling kayak, one with plenty of get up and go.  While it carries a trim width relative to its sleek, 14-foot waterline, the Odyssey’s cleverly designed rotomolded polyethylene hull provides ample stability for casting, catching or getting a novice out on the water. Its impressive payload and smart deck design provide plenty of space for crew members and equipment, and the center seat ensures proper balance for solo outings.


AL’S GOLDFISH SALTWATER SERIES SPOON – Here is a perfect striper lure for surfcasters and kayak fishermen. Built with 100lb test rings, hard baked paints, hand- tied teaser and 3/0 VMC J hooks, they’re available in ¾ ounces and 1 1/4 oz. sizes and 6 patterns. On a steady retrieve, the unmistakable wobble and brilliant light reflection makes them irresistible for stripers and bluefish.



THE PRESERVE AT BOULDER HILLS –The Preserve at Boulder Hills offers five upland Continental Hunts a year. There are just two hunts left in this season, and they make an outstanding gift for the wing shooting enthusiast! Specially designated fields accommodate hunters and dogs and include eight new bird hunting grounds, the smallest of which is 300 X 100 yards.  European Tower Hunts, including from a 210-foot perch that is the tallest in New England, are available, too, and I availed myself of both opportunities.

But wait, there’s more!  Whether your interests are upland birds, fowl, or larger game, The Preserve provides the opportunity to experience it all. Shooting sports are the heart and soul of The Preserve, which boast two sporting clays courses, a skeet field, and a trap field.  Currently nearing completion is construction of an indoor, underground shooting range with 16 100-foot lanes and four rifle lanes at 150 yards – making it the longest public shooting range of its kind in the country.

Here’s even more!  The Preserve lives up to its claim that it’s a place “where pristine nature and refined luxury find common ground.”  Everything you need, from fine dining to a Sporting Shoppe at which the world’s most accomplished outdoor lifestyle enthusiasts feel at home (need a jacket, a bow, a FAMARS bespoke shotgun or rifle?), is at your fingertips.

A hunt at The Preserve is more than a hunt.  It is an adventure inward – inspiring beyond words.


FLYING DOUBLE F RANCH – Hunting is offered in its “pure” state at the Flying Double F Ranch – hereinafter FF – in Vale, Oregon.  We’re not talking a classic preserve here.  Game isn’t stocked.  Over-hunting is prevented by the imposition of limited yearly hunting periods.

Bobwhite, pheasants, valley quail, Hungarians, and chukars await on over – get this – 10,500 acres of privately owned or leased hunting grounds, including creek beds, streams, river bottoms and the edges of farm fields.  Hunters are encouraged to bring their own dogs, and of course great dogs are available.  Fields are rested more often than they’re shot, assuring that guests see plenty of birds. Pheasants and valley quail predominate.