Gifts of Christmas Past: What Hunters and Anglers Used to Want for Christmas

A look back at the gift guides of yesteryear

Outdoor Life vintage christmas issues
A look back at the gift guides of yesteryear.Outdoor Life

The holiday season is a favorite time of year for a lot of folks, and outdoorsmen and women are no exception. Part of this, of course, is because national holidays coincide with hunting seasons for deer, ducks, or small game. Another factor is that hunters and anglers always need (okay, want) gear. Which means that gift giving is the perfect opportunity to turn yearlong wishes into shiny new loot. Here’s a look at some of the gifts we’ve suggested and advertisers have offered over the past century in our December issue. Where applicable, we’ve also accounted for inflation and calculated what the price would be in today’s dollars.

1914

Outdoor Life Gift Subscription
(Embossed Christmas card included)

Price Then: $1.30 per year The newsstand price was 15 cents each, so that's an annual savings of 30 cents.

In 2017 dollars: $31.60 per year This price is what a 1914 subscription would cost in 2017—not what we actually charge for our annual subscription. A one-year subscription to OL is only $10 (that would've been 41 cents for the year back in 1914), which means this gift's value has only improved with time. Go to outdoorlife.com/subscribe for more details.

1954

Although he doesn’t name a brand or price for this gift, fishing editor Ray Bergman suggests giving a soap paste that deodorizes anglers and their gear. At the time, there was a theory that a wading angler’s odor would frighten fish.

1964

In a roundup of Christmas gift advertisements (disguised to look suspiciously like an editorial gift guide), we found the following items:

Electric Socks and Electric Mittens
Price then: $14.95 each
In 2017 dollars: $117.64 each

Johnson Fold-Flat Goose Decoys
Price then: $2.35 each, or $26.95 per dozen
In 2017 dollars: $18.49 each, or $212.07 per dozen

Custom Sporterized Springfield .30/06
Price then: $69.95
In 2017 dollars: $550.45

Wham-O Hunting Slingshot
Price then: $1.50
In 2017 dollars: $12.28

1983

Pat McManus compiled his ultimate gift guide, although the items aren’t exactly practical. Or readily available at your favorite retailer.

Amazing Automatic Fish Cleaner and Scaler
If this sounds too good to be true, that's because it is. This is really a silver yo-yo that buyers use to hypnotize their spouses into descaling and filleting recent catches.

Caged Canary
This safety device is designed for use in any tent or cabin occupied by more than two hunters after the third day of the hunt. When the canary topples from its perch and strikes a bell, the alarm warns hunters that the air in the tent or cabin has become lethal.

Sleeping-Bag Shucker
It's often hard to get your hunting companion out of his cozy sleeping bag on cold mornings, which is why this contraption comes in handy.
Spoiler alert: It's an inflatable bear.