The Importance Of Building Bridges Not Walls

I just purchased a college textbook.   Oh, I know what you’re probably thinking…I’ve reached a mid-life crisis and I am heading back to school this fall.   Nope, nothing could be further from the truth.   The book I bought was not a requirement for some class, instead, I have discovered it to be a requirement for my life.

Let me explain.

Back 30 years ago while attending the University of Minnesota I was a sophomore who thought he knew it all.   I mean, let’s face it, I was at the prime age when NOBODY, and I do mean, well…few people could tell me much in life.   Most adults were, shall we say, out-of-touch.   Most of my professors were too smart for their own good.   Hell, even most of my friends didn’t have a clue quite to the same extent I did.   I knew it all, or at least so I thought.

Then I took this Interpersonal Relations class and had one of those “aha” moments.   You know the ones…when all of a sudden something clicks in your head and life begins to make more sense as things come into focus.   Maybe it was a product of the maturation process, yet I have long concluded it had more to do with a certain very influential book.

Of the 100s of college text books I was forced to purchase over the years only one sticks out in my mind having a value above all others.   The title of the book was “Bridges Not Wall” by John Stewart.   The book was so adept at explaining the process of communication it left an indelible impression in my mind even three decades later.

I remember one of the basic tenets of the book as simply this: The quality of a person’s life is directly proportional to their ability to effectively communicate.   Think about it.   The people who really grasp and understand how to communicate are the same folks who typically succeed in our world.   They know how to ask for what they want.   They have this insane knack for opening doors that most people think are locked up tight.

This ability to communicate plays an important role in our outdoor pursuits, too.   When you can be persuasive more than most you can open up new hunting lands.   Landowners feel comfortable with you and swing open those otherwise closed gates.   You can start a dialogue with a stranger and eventually get them to spill their favorite fishing spots.   Communication used properly is so powerful there really are few limits to where it can take you.

Now, I’m certainly not suggesting that you go out and purchase this collegiate textbook like I just did.   Rather, I’m encouraging you to just think about how you communicate in life.   If you’re shy, there are ways to overcome it.   If you get nervous, there are techniques to help you cope.   Communication is like a muscle in your body, when you stop using it the skill slowly atrophies away.   Best of all, when you exercise your ability to communicate you can accomplish profound achievements.

Believe it or not, communication evolves with the passage of time.   Back 30 years ago the edition of this book I first used didn’t mention the influence of social media in our lives.   Today, we live in a world bombarded with Facebook, Twitter and similar social media communication influences.

I can’t emphasize enough how the ability to communicate has rewarded me in life.   As a sportsman, you might think the skills necessary to call ducks, turkeys or other game animals is really all you need to be a success.   I contend if you don’t first become proficient at communicating with other humans, you can never possibly achieve your true potential during your precious experiences spent outdoors.

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

I’ll Take Mine With Bones, Please!

This past Sunday we sold a bunch of old laying hen chickens to a neighbor who intended to butcher them up for use in soups and stews.   Our family has a small flock of about 40 birds for egg laying and when they’ve run their cycle—usually after about three years or so—we offer them up for butchering to folks who will take them.

It’s a great reminder to all of us here on the farm as to where our food comes from.   In particular, the process is important for the next generation to witness.

In this instance my 5–y/o daughter cried when she suddenly realized those pretty birds were gone—for good!   Indeed, we reminded her that the neighbor was taking them home to eat them and that was all part of the cycle of life.   In fact, we also reminded her that when we go to the grocery store the meat she likes to eat all comes from some animal.

Kids need to appreciate and understand that concept, but in today’s world most kids are never even exposed to that.   Not in the slightest.

Next time you are at a restaurant offering a choice between bone-in and boneless hot chicken wings ask the waitress which type is most popular.   Heck, I will save you the trouble.   If the diners are beyond, oh, let’s say about 40 years old or so, the answer is usually bone-in.   Less than that the preference is usually for boneless.   Why is that?

Can I offer up an educated guess?   The simply answer is GUILT.   As our society gets further removed from “the farm” people don’t want to be reminded of where their meat originates.   When you’re gnawing every morsel of muscle fiber off a chicken wing or a pork rib bone it’s pretty hard to put that out of your mind, isn’t it?

Not so when meat once served as bones included now comes with the convenient option of bones-free.

Oh, sure, I am not so naive to realize how there are other factors at play here, too.   The point is lots of processed foods are just easier accomplished without the hassle of bones, but you can’t completely discount my contention we are today living in a society that does not want to concern itself with where our foodstuffs are derived.

That’s why hunting, fishing and other “consumptive” sports are important.   If a kid is only exposed to the process of killing and subsequent consumption of an animal a few times a year that is more than most children get.   Food is not something to be ashamed of or to be dealing with feelings of guilt.   We all must eat and consuming meat is one of the most natural activities ever known to mankind.

So, the next time you’re eating in a restaurant do you go boneless or happily grab the bones?   How you order your food might just be saying a great deal about you.   I know from now on when I see people eating anything boneless I will interject a sense of reality by reminding them they are actually eating an animal.

Huh!  It’s funny how when you take a person either hunting or fishing this type of conversation never has reason to be mentioned.

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

Calling All Minnesota & Wisconsin Fishing/Hunting Bloggers

If there’s one thing many bloggers fail at it’s networking.   Now, I’m not talking about networking via social media, like Twitter and Facebook.   No, I’m talking about good old fashioned face-to-face meeting like they used to do it back in the old days.   In my opinion nothing solidifies a friendship quite like a firm handshake and a few stories passed back and forth.

During the past several years a small group of us bloggers have met during the SHOT Show in Vegas for a social hour.   Those times are always fun and it allows folks to get caught up on happenings.   Moreover, it builds a bond with other like-minded bloggers that helps to energize a person’s future creative output.

It has long been my hope to gather a regional group of bloggers together for a fun rendezvous here in the upper Midwest.  I’ve learned that is not always an easy task to accomplish due to the fact we all live busy lives, but important nonetheless.   So, if you blog about the outdoors and are within reasonable driving distance of the Twin Cities, I urge you to make plans now.

Announcing plans for a fall Day at the Range.   We’ll be doing some shooting, we’ll be doing some other outdoor activities, we’ll be eating fresh smoked BBQ, and most of all we’ll be getting to better know one another.

Here are the plans:

(Click on the link above for additional details)

If you have any questions please contact either Michelle Scheuermann, Chris Larsen or me.   If this goes over well maybe next summer we will plan a similar gathering at some lake to focus on a little fishing.   Hope to hear from you soon.

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