Embrace Bloggers and Social Media To Get Message Out

I just have to laugh!   Some notions take a long time to die.   I could easily make this post my annual rant against the Minnesota DNR and their communication peeps who seemingly don’t have a 21st Century clue when it comes to communicating their message, but if I did the blog posting would largely look like it did last year.  (SEE HERE)

So, I’ll spare you all those details once again.   Point is I’ve been an outdoors writer here in Minnesota since 1987 and now because most of my communication efforts are online some entities, like the MN DNR, apparently fail to see the value.

Once again, the MN DNR is conducting their annual 2–day #RoundTable and I was not included.  Last year I sent a note in advance to DNR Communication Director Chris Niskanen (@ChrisNiskanen1) asking to be included, but alas, the note was never received.   Certainly after the blog post I wrote last year I figured I’d be on the radar for the 2013 #RoundTable session…but no such luck once again.

Here I am willing to invest my time and money to report happenings of my state’s fish and game department, but the take away is such information dissemination is not apparently that important.   What a shame.   Whether it is the MN DNR or even some manufacturer of a new outdoor product, you would think they would be doing their due diligence to include both bloggers and people from all other facets of social media.

Recently I attended a blogging conference and discovered how one of the most aggressive segments harnessing the power of blogging, Twitter and similar online communication tools targets the so-called “mommy blogger.”   That’s right, companies who promote diapers, sell mac and cheese products, encourage the use of real butter for cooking, and so on are light years ahead of others when it comes to tapping into these emerging forms of new media.

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Back at the farm, I cooked up some brats to serve my hungry hunters during the fall 2012 firearms deer season.

One particular company I’ve been impressed with on Twitter is Johnsonville (@JvilleGrilling)   Not only do they tweet often and with content that adds value (not just self-promo), but they also do one of the best jobs of engaging their followers of any company I have seen.   I posted a picture back during deer hunting season that they found of me grilling their brats…and days later they were using it, with my permission of course, all over their online marketing efforts.

I can relate many similar examples of how companies or groups are in-step with those of us who blog and tweet.   I once ripped a company in these blog pages several years ago about their product in how it was poorly designed.  They got upset with me and fired back…but in the end they changed their product design because they new I had some valid points that needed to be addressed.

I will be so bold as to predict that within five years most traditional forms of how people obtain their news will largely lose significance.   I’m talking newspaper, magazines, and to some lesser extent even nightly TV news coverage.   We are living in a transition period where people demand their news immediately, in a succinct fashion, and when it’s convenient for them to view it.   Blogging, social media and videos on demand delivers the message.

Yes, indeed, I find it somewhat odd how a company peddling baby diapers is far better at engaging their audience through the blogger network than my state’s game and fish department continues to be.   <Okay, this is where I would ordinarily insert a joke about shit, but I’ve chosen not to do that at this time. Ha!>

©2013 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

2012 Minnesota Governor’s Deer Hunting Opener–In Pictures

This past Saturday was the Minnesota Firearms Deer Hunting Opener and what has been the tradition now for 10 years running, Minnesota’s sitting Governor honors the blaze-clad sportsman of this state with a special celebration.   Each year the event bounces around to various areas of the state, but the last time it was in SE Minnesota was back in 2006 and that time I am proud to say Governor Tim Pawlenty hunted on my farm.  Read more HERE about that very special day.

But this time around things have changed slightly.   This time the event was held in Winona, Minnesota and not Rochester (or more accurately rural Kenyon, MN).   Moreover, Governor Pawlenty who created the special hunt no longer is Governor.   Now, it is Governor Mark Dayton who maintains the event by making an appearance, but does not partake in the hunt like Pawlenty did each year.

Even so, I give Governor Dayton credit for continuing the GDHO event and for taking the time to make a short appearance.   After all, with over a half million deer hunters in this state helping to stimulate the Minnesota economy to the tune of nearly a billion dollars annually, a Governor should honor the sportsmen and women of the Gopher State.

But enough of the boring stuff.   Let’s show some pictures and check out the fun.   What follows is how we spent Friday at the event enjoying what makes deer hunting in this state so proud.

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Banner greeting event attendees.

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Da Bad Axe traveling trophy presented to the team who competes and wins the MN Governor’s Deer Hunting Opener Outdoor Olympics series of events.

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Of course, we formed a team consisting of Michelle Scheuermann (@LadySportsman), Todd & Dick Rost, and yours truly, Jim Braaten.

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There were several events such as archery shooting, outdoor knowledge such as guess the hides, guess the animal tracks, guess the pistol/rifle cartridges…

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Even the uniquely outdoorsy axe toss, which by the way, Michelle Scheuermann had never done before. So, we let her represent our team.

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Whoa!!! Did Michelle kick butt. She got to throw three axes and the team only got a score if they stuck in the target. SHE STUCK ALL THREE!!! WooHoo!!!

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Although only two axes are shown here…they removed the first one so it didn’t get chopped by her pinpoint accuracy. Way to go Michelle!!

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There was also a timed obstacle course. Here, Todd is shown getting dressed and he had to do several things such as shoot at a target, pull a deer drag some distance…

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And eventually hoist it up into a tree. Talk about working up a sweat! Great job, Todd!

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In the end, Team Sportsman’s Blog crushed the competition with our superior skills and knowledge on the outdoors. Psst! In all honesty it was mostly Michelle who now possesses legendary woodsman skills. In fact, she is the only axe-wielding PR guru I know, so look out.

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But the MN Governor’s Deer Hunting Opener is more than adults playing silly games. On the serious side of things is the community children by the 100′s who also take part in the learning.

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Professionals, like these MN Conservation Officers, teach various stations to instruct more about nature, hunting safety, and how to properly respect the outdoors.

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Here, a local Conservation Officer assists a youth in properly fitting a tree stand safety harness to his body for a live demonstration.

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But the learning was fun for the kids, too. The shooting duo of Aaron and Steve Gould put on a trick shooting performance showing the kids just how much skill and fun gun handling can be.

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While always emphasizing safety, the brothers showed one of the many ways shooting can be fun.

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They shot clay targets while doing push-ups.

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Their antics typically involved shooting multiple targets.   The kids really seemed to enjoy the performance.

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But eventually Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton showed up and was most gracious to the folks in attendance.

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He spent time talking about deer hunting and answering questions about the importance of hunting to this state.

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Eventually the press conference got underway and media was present from throughout Minnesota, including several neighboring states.

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Mark Johnson, Executive Director for the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association–one of the lead organizers of this event–took the stage to announce the special guests.

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Tom Landwehr, Minnesota’s DNR Commissioner, took the stage to emphasize the importance of deer hunting in Minnesota.

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Eventually Governor Dayton spoke and thanked all the volunteers who make this event possible.

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A special group of local volunteers are shown here who the next morning would be taking media and other guests out to their carefully chosen deer stands to hopefully see some action.

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Great food was catered in consisting of burgers and chili.

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But really there was so much going on throughout the day. Here Todd Rost is down on the range shooting one of the big handguns that shot so sweet.

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And Michelle again…what can I say. She test drove one of the new Polaris Rangers and the guys who gave her the keys never thought she would bring it back.

Indeed, another Minnesota Governor’s Deer Hunting Opener is in the books.   We’re told that next year we have to bring the trophy back and defend our coveted title of champs!   I suppose so.   Look out Fergus Falls, MN…looks like we’ll be coming back again with even more to prove next time around.

©2012 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

I’ve Done Some Thinking….

While I’ve taken a break from blogging (see previous post) I haven’t stepped away from reading other outdoor blogs or following the current “hot-button” issues that surround us in the outdoors world.   What suddenly occurred to me is the notion I think many of us fail to consider when we form our thoughts and opinions on the outdoors.

What is our ultimate goal (or what should it be)?   Seriously, as a group of outdoor users what should we all be striving towards to accomplish in our outdoor pursuits?   Mind you, I’m not talking personal goals here…I’m talking identifiable benchmarks we can collectively use to determine we’re achieving something good and proper for each of our various outdoor activities.

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Only by sharing a common goal for how we should be enjoying the outdoors can we expect to achieve success and harmony in all of our outdoor pursuits.

Let me provide an example.   Yesterday I read on Facebook where someone posed the question should crossbows be used during the regular archery deer hunting season.   In many states, and my home state of Minnesota being one of them, crossbow users are greatly restricted to use only during select times and/or by persons showing a doctor diagnosed disability.

Now, on one hand those individuals suggesting “yes” point to the fact that as a hunter ages it gets increasingly difficult to pull back on a bow, even today’s modern compounds incorporating marvelous engineering designs can still be too much for muscles enduring atrophy.   Yet, traditional archers understandably have reason to limit an expansion of deer hunter opportunities leading to increased competition on a limited commodity.

So, we have a standoff between two factions of sportsmen each with a personal vested interest in rules being construed to their recreational advantage.   Emotions over the issue build, eventually one side or the other starts to undermine the other’s stance with negativity, and suddenly sportsmen are at odds over a matter that should not even be occurring.   Why?   Because inherently we let selfish desires sway our thinking (and acting) due to the fact we’re all not operating toward an established outdoors goal.

Here’s another example.   In Minnesota, like a growing number of states, we’ve been experimenting with various deer management principles involving antler point restrictions (or APR’s).   The thought being if hunters are required to count a certain number of points on a buck to make it legal, this will help shift the buck population to one that is more mature, hence more trophies.

The problem is not everyone wants to deer hunt with those added restrictions.   Indeed, one faction of hunters wants the DNR to mandate certain criteria to theoretically increase the number of trophy deer bounding through the woods.   On the flip side are deer hunters who prefer doing things the traditional way allowing every hunter to determine what they consider to be a trophy.   Bottom line…selfish personal desires place otherwise regular, agreeable sportsmen at great odds.

Okay, enough talk about a goal.   Let’s establish a common goal among all sportsmen that should be widely understood as well as embraced.   The goal needs to take “what’s best for me” out of the equation.   The goal needs to be so ridiculously simple that everyone understands it.   The goal needs to resonate and become woven into the fabric of everything we do, henceforth, when it comes to hunting, fishing, trapping, etc.

The goal needs to rejoice in the fact that although many of us choose to enjoy the outdoors in slightly different ways, our differences should never become kindling used for torching fellow sportsmen.   Indeed, the goal might need to re-focus our thinking for the greater good of our beloved outdoor pursuits, but that’s okay and a healthy step in the right direction.

THE GOAL:  All laws, rules and regulations should be developed and construed allowing the MAXIMUM number of people to participate and to enjoy the outdoors.   There you have it!   Notice I didn’t say to enjoy the outdoors a certain way at the expense of how others might enjoy it.   Of course, the underlying caveat to this goal must always consider what is good for the natural resources first and foremost.

Honestly, folks, I’ve really growing tired of the divisiveness prevalent within our ranks seemingly motivated by pure selfish thinking.   It’s a cancer and needs to be dealt with before it spreads out of control.   As a group, we can’t afford to alienate other sportsmen (or future sportsmen) because we strive to push for personal agendas losing sight of what should be the greater goal.   Then, of course, if we all choose to continue operating without a common goal for our beloved outdoor activities we simply continue on a destiny of eventual doom.

Your thoughts?

©2012 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.