How Come There’s Not An App For That?

I’ve had this blog topic bouncing around in my head now for several months.   As a growing number of sportsmen get iPhones, Androids and BlackBerrys, etc. it only seems logical to make use of this advancing technology.   Right?

Well, not consistently for the Minnesota DNR.   In fact, doing some quick checking with other state game agencies around the country I see many of them are not taking full advantage of the growing trend toward smart phone use, either.

Here’s what I’m talking about.   This fall the Minnesota DNR has a hunting and trapping rules book that is 130 pages in size.   Unless you have big pockets in a coat or pants, the 5” x 8” size is not very easy or practical to carry with in the field.   Now 35+ years ago when I began my hunting career this book was a small pamphlet consisting of maybe 10 pages or so.   You could insert it into a shirt pocket, even fold it in half and a person wouldn’t even realize it was there.IMG_0697

But things change.   Laws and rules relating to hunting and fishing have grown more complex and what used to take 15 minutes to fully read now takes at least an entire evening to peruse.   But that’s another topic for another time.

My beef is why doesn’t the Minnesota DNR put its rule book for hunting and fishing laws into the form of an app.   It makes just too much sense.   Frankly, I carry my phone with me almost at all times.   I would love to have ready access to the information it contains—if for no other reason than to verify what I already believe the rules to be.

An app could also enable a hunter to put in a key word and quickly find the section that pertains to the issue in question.   Honestly, there are a multitude of reasons it just makes sense for a hunting and fishing rules app.

Not to mention sometimes rules change after the paper version of the book is printed.   Or sometimes there is an error in the printed materials that is not practical to correct when you have a million copies all ready for distribution.   An app would allow updates to be made by simply creating a new version of the app.   Don’t you agree, it sounds just too simple and practical.

I took the initiative of talking about this topic with Ed Boggess, Deputy Director of the MN DNR’s Division of Fish and Wildlife.   I asked Ed what plans the department has for the future and here was his response:

“While we have discussed this, there are no definitive plans in the works.  However, we are working on new standards for producing our on-line hunting, fishing and waterfowl regs to meet statewide technology requirements and this will likely be discussed again as part of that effort.”

In other words, the DNR doesn’t seem to be approaching this topic with any urgency or great importance, at least not at this point in time.

Okay, I can accept that explanation…and up until today I was quite accepting of the fact our hunting and fishing laws are not available via smart phone technology.   But then this MN DNR news release crossed my desk:

DNR announces fall color app for smart phones

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has developed a simple application (beta release) that allows people to take fall color information with them.

The iPhone (also iPod Touch and iPad) and Android smart phones are currently supported. People can also use any WebKit-based browser (Chrome or Safari) to view the app.

Features include real-time access to fall color reports provided by DNR Parks and Trails staff and integration with Google maps.

More information is available on the website at

Fall-colors-app-2-(2)Okay, that’s just wonderful how the DNR has an app for folks to track fall tree colors on their phones, but c’mon…talk about not staying consistent.   Here’s an app with value to folks viewing fall colors for maybe 3 or 4 weeks each year.   Folks, in this blog I’m promoting the development of an app with utility value ALL YEAR ROUND — winter, spring, summer and fall.   What gives?

I have to believe that in just a few years this blog post will seem outdated because everyone will be developing and using apps for such a purpose.   That is my hope.   Yet, in the meantime, I sometimes wonder how short-sighted and out-of-touch these state game and fish departments are with technology that it takes a blogger to be making the suggestion.   Seriously, if you want to promote your game and fish resources in a positive manner to the customers (that would be us license buying sportsmen) why not strive to be on the cutting edge providing to us what we desperately need.

Nope, instead of checking the opening dates of muzzleloading deer season, my DNR in Minnesota would rather I go check out the colorful leaves by using my phone.   Go figure.

If you’re not from Minnesota and your game or fish department has an app for smart phone users, I’d like to hear about it.   Please send me the link.

©2010 Jim Braaten.  All Rights Reserved.  No Reproduction without Prior Permission.