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Friday, October 08, 2010

Love of outdoors guides new business owners

Smith Mountain Lake Outdoors offers guided fishing and hunting trips.

Ben McCall (left) and Danny Dudley, co-owners of SML Outdoors in Moneta, with a mounted 14-point buck Dudley bagged in Iowa and a 38-pound, 2-ounce striped bass caught by Dudley's mentor Danny Jones at SML.

LAURIE EDWARDS | Laker Weekly

Ben McCall (left) and Danny Dudley, co-owners of SML Outdoors in Moneta, with a mounted 14-point buck Dudley bagged in Iowa and a 38-pound, 2-ounce striped bass caught by Dudley's mentor Danny Jones at SML.

Danny Dudley spent more than 20 years as a contractor for house and dock builders. When the construction market slowed, he started looking for a new venture, one about which he was passionate.

In July, Dudley and his friend Ben McCall, both of Burnt Chimney, took over ownership of SML Marine Electronics & Outdoor Specialties. They rebranded the store SML Outdoors and added retail and guide services to the offerings.

They offer both guided fishing and guided hunting excursions. Dudley said he leads striped bass trips at SML and in Tennessee, trout fishing in Craig County and white-tail deer hunting throughout the area.

McCall said they'd like to add guided tours for largemouth and smallmouth bass, crappie and catfish in the future.

At the store, located near Hales Ford Bridge behind Wainwright Realtors, they sell a variety of hunting equipment including Mossy Oak Brand Camo, muzzleloaders, black powder, deer calls, rifle scopes and scouting cameras. SML Outdoors also offers a variety of archery equipment.

"I do all my own fletching and cut my own arrows," said Dudley.

He also has a bow press to restring bows. Dudley said he loves bow hunting. In 2004, he was the ASA Federation's national tour champion in bow hunting.

McCall said they hope to receive their firearms license next year. He said they won't sell assault-style weapons; everything will be for hunting.

For anglers, the store offers fish finders, depth finders, Mr. Super Bass spinners and jigs, troller motors and batteries. McCall said they're also the home base for Limit-5 Angler Gear, designed by Moneta angler Rick Tilley.

Dudley said they're working toward selling hunting and fishing licenses and becoming a check-in station. Earlier this month, they launched a big buck contest, with a Thompson/Center muzzleloader for the winner.

SML Outdoors is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. It is located at 16503 Booker T. Washington Highway, Suite D, Moneta. 719-1549.