Let’s start out with hunters since we’re in the middle of the hunting season. Does the hunter like electronics? There are all sorts of gadgets for sportsmen. Every hunter should have a GPS tracking unit when they go in the woods. There are a host of models out there ranging from just under one hundred to several hundred dollars. Yep, I’ve got the least expensive. Wandering around the grouse woods it can be easy to get temporarily disoriented, i.e. lost. These lightweight, pocket sized devices can be set at the vehicle to show current location and track your movement through the woods and fields. You can mark locations to return and most importantly they point you back to the vehicle when you’re ready to go home.
If you are buying for a deer hunter, think about a trail camera. Most deer hunters are always adding these to their inventory. They are used to record movement along trails or near hunting stands. Many deer hunters have more than one stand so they usually have multiple units and sometimes use them to check deer movement in other areas. With improving technology the cost of these are going down. You might find some for less than one hundred dollars at major retailers. Like the GPS units they can go up to several hundred dollars depending on their capabilities.
There are a whole lot of options for the year around hunter. Do they turkey hunt? Consider getting them a new high quality box or striker call. How about a decoy? Look at the Mojo Shake-n-Jake motion turkey decoy. I used one this last season with great success. If they shoot in the off-season think about target ammo. Any bird hunter out there would much appreciate a case of target shotgun shells for their sporting clays shooting in the summer. If they shoot rifle or pistol at the range maybe they could use a gun rest. MTM makes one for about $60 and Caldwell makes a top-of-the-line Lead Sled for nearly $200. Of course stocking stuffers like cleaning supplies and targets are always appreciated.
Anglers can be somewhat like hunters, downright persnickety when it comes to their gear. Again a word of caution: unless you’ve been given specific information I wouldn’t buy a major piece of equipment like reel, rod, or waders. Just do some snooping around to find some hints. Are they bass anglers? Try a variety of the artificial baits they use the most. Most I know keep a supply on hand so it’s just a matter of looking through it and taking notes (or cell phone photos) to make sure you get the right brand, pattern, or size. Same can be said for trout anglers, they can always use an assortment of both wet and dry flies. You probably know where they shop so go there and ask what are the most popular patterns and sizes in the local area.
For the trout angler maybe they could use a wading staff for that swift water. How about a new landing net? In the mountains here a wader patch kit is always something to have along. There are all sorts of stocking stuffers you can get: dry fly dubbing, strike indicators, leader material, forceps, nail clippers (your favorite angler tell you what those last two are for).
If there is any doubt about what they currently use, a little snooping around at home can always lead you in the right direction. Every sportsman I know has a “place” where they keep their hunting and fishing gear. Look around, make notes, and take pictures. Then go to their local tackle or fly fishing shop or gun store and ask a clerk for their recommendations. I say local as in support local businesses. You will get better answers to your questions from a small specialty retailer than a large national chain.