Outdoors Bloggers Sometimes Frustrate The Hell Out Of Me

I’m not going to mince words.   At times hunting and fishing bloggers frustrate the hell out of me.   Even though I tend to think we are a fairly tight-knit group sharing common passions, when it comes to organizing and learning together it’s like waving a braided garlic rope in front of a vampire.   Outdoors bloggers tend to quickly disappear for the hills…with gun or bow in hand, I might add.

Seriously, there’s something a bit different about outdoors bloggers that I can’t quite understand.   I get it that most bloggers have a limited amount of free time in their lives for both blogging and enjoying the outdoors.   I also get it that a person can be hunting and fishing nearly any time of the year so why waste a day sitting in a class or meeting with other bloggers.   But what happened to the notion of enhancing the writer’s craft through skill building and networking?   Seems to me great opportunities are being lost here.

A few weeks back I attended my third Minnesota Bloggers Conference (known as “MNBlogCon”) with Michelle Scheuermann of the Sportsman Channel who also blogs at BulletProofMediaBlog.com   To my knowledge we were the only outdoors bloggers in attendance.   There were lots of mommy bloggers, food bloggers, fashion bloggers, sports bloggers, technology bloggers, marketing bloggers, not to mention just ordinary lifestyle bloggers.   Yet, no other outdoors bloggers.

Photo2What a shame.   I sometimes wonder if hunting and fishing bloggers place any priorities on skill building.   I mean, let’s face it…there are many ways to communicate the outdoors experience.   But to do it with even a modicum level of journalistic skill does not come naturally to a person.   It requires some training and my guess is most bloggers are not trained writers beyond, perhaps, a college level introductory composition class.   Just a guess.

And that’s where learning to become a better blogger comes in.   Most of us have it down how to become better anglers or hunters, but if you want to call yourself an outdoors blogger being good at a particular sport is only one facet to being an outdoors blogger.   The communication component needs attention and nurturing, too.

Now, this criticism is not directed to bloggers who may belong to various regional or national writing organizations.   I understand with annual conferences and gatherings they get their share of networking and craft building.   Nope, my criticism today is with the outdoors blogger who sits at home and never interacts face-to-face with other bloggers.   It is my sincere hope this blogger recognizes on many levels the benefits of meeting other bloggers and improving on their communication skills.

Quite honestly if you expect to achieve longevity in any task (whether it be blogging, etc.) you must feed the beast to keep it alive.   Meeting with other bloggers has a way of recharging a person’s batteries with renewed enthusiasm.   For me, attending a blogger conference or gathering also allows me to do some deep introspection in terms of where I am going with my blog.

In closing, I am here to tell you that blogging holds some exciting possibilities in the coming years for those who excel at it.   If you’re contemplating starting a blog, why not start today.   If you’re already a blogger pledge to become an even better blogger.   Either way, it pays big dividends to get out and to meet other bloggers when they gather to learn.

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

Want To Hunt My Land? Here’s How…

Today’s blog post was inspired by a Facebook status from a husband/wife team who are hardcore hunters.   I mean, this duo basically lives, eats and breaths mostly deer hunting, however occasionally other species make their bucket list.   What captured my attention is a series of pictures they posted…and seeing them got me thinking just how this couple is a class outdoor act.

Perhaps you think it was the pictures themselves that were awe inspiring.   Nope!   It was simply sharing a snapshot of what is happening in life—you know, telling Facebook friends the mundane things about what you are currently doing—that struck a deep chord with me.

This couple was out farming.   He was driving a tractor pulling a chisel plow.   She was riding another tractor discing a different field.   Together, they were helping out a farmer who was getting a bit behind in his work.   It’s the kind of assistance neighbors often give neighbors in the rural areas, but this hunting duo hails from the big city.   They aren’t true country folk.   They are hunters visiting for the day from a metropolitan area.

Long ago they realized how gaining access onto new hunting lands is about building personal relationships.   It’s not just finding out the landowner’s first name and schmoozing for a few minutes each fall, instead it’s about discovering much more pertaining to his life.   It’s learning his name, his wife’s name, the names of all the children, what hobbies he has, his favorite foods…I think you get the picture.   Over the years they took the time first to build a friendship, and second to enter into a handshake agreement that includes access to his land seeking wildlife.

So, this couple rises and shines early in the morning like most deer hunters do.   They hunt for several prime morning hours…then they ditch their Scent Lok for their coveralls.   They become the sort of hired-hand to the farmer he most certainly doesn’t expect, but over the years has grown to dearly appreciate.   For those five or six hours mid-day when this husband and wife could be hunting, instead they are solidifying a relationship that promises to last for many years.

Don’t think for a moment the farmer and his family don’t recognize this special act.   In fact, it might have started out as the hunters feeling indebted to the landowner for initially granting them permission to hunt, but this has morphed into something much bigger.   These days, it is the farmer feeling somewhat obligated to the hunters for all their hard work.

How do you think the farmer is apt to satiate this feeling of indebtedness?   I’ll tell you…he realizes that no other hunter prior to this couple has ever been so gracious in their helpful actions.   Oh, sure, he knows this is sort of a quid pro quo relationship where each party is getting something of value, but this farmer offers the couple even more.   And quite deservingly so.

Because no other hunter has ever taken the time to first become friends with the farmer and then to work their butts off (a trait most farmers and rural folks quickly appreciate and use to evaluate people), these hunters get a special reward.   Yup, they get exclusive hunting rights on the landowner’s property.   Now, what value do you place on that?

You see, when dealing with landowners in rural America your handshakes, your token gifts of appreciation, your consideration shown while on the property is all important.   Yet, if you want something more than most hunters get a person needs to be prepared to give something more than most hunters are willing to give.

Time, friendship, some occasional sweat equity…these all leave deep impressions on those folks who are the gatekeepers to the property you want to hunt.   If you want to be treated better than just some “ordinary” hunter, you need to do the things that set you apart from all others.   That’s who I want hunting on my land when given the choice.

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

Temperature Vs. Trophy: Making The Tough Call And Letting It Go

One of the dilemmas of early season hunting is the weather can be unseasonable until things begin to stabilize later into the fall season.   So, today I ask the important question…if a trophy animal presents itself within shooting range and there is a chance the elevated temps could spoil the meat before it can get handled properly, will you let it go?

I know for many hunters this situation can present itself and be one of the most agonizing decisions a hunter will ever make.   You could have spent countless hours in the deer stand or on a difficult stalk only to let the animal see yet another day thanks to prevailing temperatures and circumstances beyond your complete control.

Let me explain.   Back in 1996 I was hunting antelope in Montana and my season was winding down.   I was in day five of a six day hunt and the heat of the open range had taken its toll on me.   More importantly, it had taken its toll on my coolers as my supply of camp ice was quickly dwindling.   Past experiences had taught me how much ice to bring, but past experiences did not have to endure the high heat as I witnessed on this trip.

My partner and I belly crawled up on some nice antelope where they were within easy shooting range.   I glanced through the herd and picked out the buck I wanted to take.

But I hesitated.   Indeed, I did not feel right about what I was about to do.

You see, I knew back in camp I did not have the ice necessary to deal with the meat I would likely harvest.   Moreover, I was on a rough section of the ranch where it was over an hour to the ranch house…and another two hours to the closest city where I could have found a processing plant with a cooler or, at the very least, more ice.

Call it improper planning if you will, but the point is a shot taken at this point would have resulted in a nice animal bagged but a beautiful animal’s meat all but wasted by the act.   I chose NOT to shoot and ended up going home empty-handed from the western hunt.

These type of tough calls are all part of hunting.   Consider the deer hunter who sees a trophy deer but at the edge of his shooting range.   Sure, it might be reasonable to take such a shot, but hunting at extreme ranges also increases the odds for an extended recovery.   If you know there’s even an increased chance for a delayed recovery and perhaps wasted meat, is it ethical to take the shot?   It’s a tough call.   It’s also a very personal call.

This scenario can play itself out many different ways.   Marginal shots while upland bird hunting when your normal canine partner is not with you to aid in the quick recovery…I think you get the picture.   The main goal of hunting should be the preservation of the meat being harvested, but it’s easy to forget during warm weather conditions how the precious time clock begins ticking quicker the moment the shot is taken.

I’m anxious to hear your thoughts on this subject.   Have you ever taken a chance you later lived to regret?   Have there been days you could have hunted, but rather chose not to for this very reason of high heat perhaps leading to spoilage?   Is it even ethical to shoot a game animal when the odds are stacked against the hunter for obtaining a wholesome meat product to take home?

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