Eight Years Ago This Very Day…

I sat down at a long-since retired computer and began a journey.   I didn’t know what I was doing.   Heck, for that matter I still don’t know what I am doing.   All I knew was I was having fun doing it.

That’s right.   Today is an anniversary for my blog.   Count them…Eight! Long! Years!

Oh, has my life changed and so has this blog.   In the beginning I had no solidly established goals.   Truth is, during those first years I’m not sure very many other eyes happened upon this writing other than my own.   Blogging was in its infancy.   It received little to no respect.   Most people hardly understood what it was even about.   For that matter, the majority of Internet browsers had no appreciation for reading the occasional ramblings of some writer transforming thoughts into computer pixels on a personal weblog.


This is how my web page looked back in 2004 when the journey began.

Let’s be honest, I started this blog writing for myself.   Those first months I used it as an escape to detail the type of topics that were on my mind at the moment.   Yes, it was a soapbox at times.   I certainly shared my opinions…got stuff off my chest, so to speak.   It was a way to release energy while at the same time attempting to share a love of the outdoors.

Folks have asked me what blogging was like when I started.   Oh, there were several blogs of national prominence sometimes making waves for breaking news…but the landscape was much different in the outdoors world.   Particularly with hunting and fishing bloggers.   As my memory recalls, there were no more than perhaps a dozen of us bloggers actively promoting the outdoors lifestyle via this up-and-coming form of communication.

Indeed, some of my early compatriots in outdoors blogging were, as memory serves me:

Now, likely there were other prominent ones I have unintentionally missed, but these are some of the pioneers in outdoors blogging.   I tip my hat to each of these guys as it appears they are all continuing to blog to this day, at least to some degree.  (If I missed you and you were blogging back in 2004, leave a comment below and tell us)

Yeah, a lot has changed in eight years.   Too much, in fact, to detail in this single blog post.   But I am so proud of what blogging has become.   It wasn’t long ago most of the professional writing associations were scoffing at bloggers–certainly not taking us serious as legitimate communicators.   Fast forward to today, most of these same organizations AND the same people in charge have become enlightened to the potential of blogging.   Now, these same professional organizations are looking for ways to embrace bloggers and bring them into their membership fold.   And I might say it’s about damn time!

When people used to ask me what outdoor publications I wrote for I would list them off.   They would subsequently nod their heads and say something like, “that’s cool.”   But do you think they ever went back and dug through some back-issues to read something I wrote?   Heck no!   If I also told them I blog…they would respond with something like, “okay,” seemingly not very impressed.

Not so today.   I no longer tell people that I once wrote for radio or provide a laundry list of what print publications I’ve been in.   It just doesn’t matter to most folks these days.   Instead, they want to know how they can read what you write from their computers, their portable tablets, heck…even their smart phones.   WOW!   Have things ever changed.   If you told me back in 2004 that not only would I still be blogging eight years later, but that I would be doing it sometimes from my phone and my readers would also be reading it in a like manner…I would have said “NO WAY!”

But, here I am on my eighth anniversary of this blog doing some reflection and introspection.   I’m excited!   It’s hard to imagine where this is all going for the future.   No longer do I write this blog merely for my own entertainment.   Nope!   Today, each post is constructed with an eye toward how can I teach or enlighten my readers with about 700 words or less.   Sometimes I achieve that goal…and other times, well, you’ll have to keep reading to find out.

In closing, a final tip-of-the-hat to all my loyal readers who have stuck with me over the years.   Here’s hoping we have several more good years to come.   Thanks for reading SPORTSMAN’S BLOG!

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

Minnesota Youth Waterfowl Day 2012 In Pictures

This past Saturday Minnesota opened the waterfowl season with a special hunt for youth 15 years and younger.   It’s a great way to introduce kids to the outdoors and for the adults to mentor them in the finer points of waterfowl hunting.

Again this year my friend, Todd Rost, took his daughter and several other kids out to a local marsh in southern Minnesota.   There’s really not much story to tell other than several of the youth shot their very first ducks resulting in many smiley faces.   The main goal was to promote safe gun handling, develop a conservation mindset and to foster what hopefully will become a life-long passion by starting the youth early in life.

Check out the pictures and perhaps develop some inspiration to introduce a youngster to the outdoors.   They’re depending on you to make it happen!

















All photos courtesy of Todd Rost.

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

Spicing Up My Life With Some Variety

Yeah, I’ve been a pretty pathetic blogger lately.   I know that.   I feel bad about that.   Not about to make a bunch of excuses, either.

Instead, I want you to know where my mind has been.   It’s not been consumed with hunting and fishing matters…nor has it been inspired to jump on some outdoor cause and lead the charge for reform.   Nope.   I caught the BBQ bug.   What you say?   What the heck it that?

Let me explain.

I’ve loved cooking outdoors for most of my life.   Whether it has been in the mountains of Colorado during an elk hunt…or streamside on some coldwater trout stream, I love the challenge of making good food and doing so away from the home kitchen.

Long story short…I’ve been smoking food for the better part of a decade.   Almost like a Picasso who painted eye-catching masterpieces of art, I yearn to perfect an art form of a different sort.   My goal has long been to make people happy with my cooking and increase my ability to do so.


The judging plate used to arrange food samples in a KCBS BBQ competition.

Okay, stay with me here in this blog post.   EVENTUALLY I’m going to throw you hard-core outdoor enthusiasts a bone in the form of a recipe, but indulge my rambling for just a bit longer.

Indeed, over the past few months I joined the Kansas City Barbeque Society and became certified as one of their BBQ judges.   This distinction entitles me to travel anywhere in the country and serve doing something that comes quite natural to me—eating.   Oh, yeah, they also want me to write down a little score.   But it’s all about good food.

So, why judge other people’s BBQ?   That’s simple…to know where your food ranks a person first has to know and understand what “good” food really is.   In essence, I view the judging component as nothing but a learning process to where this is eventually taking me.

Well, you probably guessed it…my ultimate goal is to start a competition BBQ team and that is exactly what I plan to do beginning in 2013.   Are you ready for this…introducing my team name and logo:


Please understand I am not substituting this activity for my hunting and fishing pursuits.   Instead, I view this as becoming a more well-rounded person with a diversity of interests.   After all, I strongly believe one passion in life can help fuel the other things you do.

That being said, I promised earlier in this post I would throw my loyal readers a bone in terms of sticking with my ramblings and explanation.   Part of the process of competing on the BBQ circuit is developing different flavor profiles for your food.   Now, I know there are many good commercially prepared spice products you can use to bring out the full flavor in your wild game, but have you ever considered making your own special blend?   I guarantee it will further enhance your enjoyment of shooting your own game, then cooking and eating it…give this recipe a try:

Sportsman’s Blog Outdoor Cooking Spice (combine)

  • 1 cup Turbinado sugar (usually found in the organic food section)-must use turbinado as it has a higher burn point than regular sugar, plus it imparts a molasses flavor.
  • 1/2 cup Season Salt
  • 1/2 cup Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 cup Paprika
  • 3 Tbs Chili Powder
  • 3 Tbs Ground Black Pepper
  • 2 Tbs Garlic Granules (not powder)
  • 1 Tbs Dry Prepared Mustard
  • 1 Tbs Onion Powder
  • 1 Tsp Basil
  • 1 Tsp Oregano
  • 1 Tsp Lemon Pepper
  • 2 Tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 Tsp Thyme
  • 1 Tsp Coriander
  • 1 Tsp Hickory Powder

This recipe makes about 30 ounces of combined spice, so I usually store it in a quart container.   Unfortunately, it’s difficult to get the proper ratios by mixing smaller batches.   I usually buy several empty small 8 ounce containers at the grocery store in the bulk spice section and store it this way.   Makes a great gift to hunting buddies or to cooperative landowners.

Here’s what the final product should look like prior to mixing:


And finally, here is the packaged product when I am finished.


Now, if you are having difficulty locating turbinado sugar or hickory powder you can get it online at the Spice Barn where I purchase many of my spice components.

Thanks for being patient with me as I explore some varied activities in life.

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