Time The Outdoors Industry Throws Bloggers A Little Meat On The Bone

Having written this blog for what is going on nearly a decade, I feel uniquely positioned to comment on this matter.   Quite honestly, a large segment of the outdoors industry just doesn’t seem to get it.   What am I talking about?   I’m talking about using bloggers as brand ambassadors to help promote their new products and spread the word why other outdoorsmen (aka readers) should consider using their product line.

Case in point.   Recently I received a nice package in the mail from a product manufacturer who shall remain unnamed in this blog post.   The outdoors company doesn’t really matter.   What truly matters is what the package contained.   Did it contain a new product soon to be on the store shelves?   NOPE!   Did it contain a product redesign promising improved performance in the field.   NOPE!   Did the package contain anything of value to this blog’s readers?  Likely NOT!   What did it contain?   SWAG…a fancy way of saying promotional nick-nacks.   A baseball cap, some gloves, some pens…I think you get the picture.

C89qngvxAs bloggers we are constantly on the lookout for content.   You know, the stuff we tend to write about.   If I know a company has an array of cool products and all they send me is a baseball cap, what do they expect out of me?   Seriously, if you want me to test and talk about your product then put the product into my hands.

During the past year I can count on one hand how many outdoors companies have contacted me to give their product a test.   In most of those instances I declined the offer as: #1) I was either not inspired about the product; or #2) the product didn’t really fit my blog’s audience.   In each case I thanked the company for the offer and explained my reasoning to them.

Now mind you when someone sends me a gift—no matter what it is—I don’t want to sound unappreciative.   Yes, the hat and accompanying items was very nice and I will put them to use.   Still, how can these companies be swinging and missing so in the marketing game?   After all, if they really believe in their products doesn’t it stand to reason they need to put them into the hands of people who can expose them and enlighten others to the product’s great benefits?

Bloggers are the perfect ambassadors to promote a product.   They publish on the web which makes what they do very searchable by anyone putting in those key words.   Bloggers are required by the FCC to be forthright and honest in the fact the evaluation was sponsored and accurate to the best of their abilities.   Plus, most bloggers will give products a thorough testing and scrutiny because they realize their reputation is as much as stake just as the product being tested.   By default I believe most bloggers want to be fair and accurate.

So, it really befuddles me why the outdoors industry isn’t doing a better job at understanding bloggers and putting into their hands the sort of tools they need to generate lively, interesting web content.   Oh, sure, when a package arrives in the mail it’s always nice to receive something new no matter what it is.   But, sort of like the dog who usually only gets tossed a bare bone.   Next time leave a little meat on that bone and watch how the dog attacks it with renewed vigor and enthusiasm.

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

Hunters What Does It Take For You To Become A Believer?

Let me preface this post by stating upfront that I do not intend for this post to be a product review.  Instead, the product I use as an example in this post is mostly just a prop to frame the question.   In fact, you could page through a hunting supplies catalog and pick one of thousands of similar products that this same question could apply.

That being said, I have never used an electronic scent eliminating product that uses ozone as its means of neutralizing human odor in the woods.   I have had an employee who distributed on her own these types of units for home use and, after listening to her sales pitch and seeing them in use, albeit for an entirely different use…well, let’s just say I am not sold and highly suspect of the product’s true value.

I believe these ozone devices have been available for hunter purchase now for several years.   I’ve heard both pros and cons.   I know I will certainly not run out to the store to purchase one at $400.   Hell, I would give one a try if someone gave one to me.   And therein lies my question.

When a new hunting aid comes along what does it take for you to become a believer?

Do you have to actually try it first hand?   Do you watch the product in use and highly promoted by celebs on TV?   Does a close personal friend need to be your guinea pig, so to speak?   Or does equipment like this just seem so far-fetched that you take one look at it and snicker?

The challenge of controlling human scent in the woods is a prime objective for lots of products touting their value.   And I get that.   I grew up and I still am a trapper and NOBODY is more keenly aware of human scent than trappers are.   Yet, I see successful trappers all over the board when it comes to human scent management.   Some go to extremes taking every painstaking precaution to leave no traces of human scent.   Others, well…they realize the importance of being careful, but they don’t go overboard when it comes to their practices.   Yet, both are still successful.

I often wonder if those of us who are hunters don’t often interpret our experiences the way we hope they exist.   By that I mean, if you just plopped $400 down for some electronic scent device or some scent reducing clothing, by default we all want them to work, right?   Hard to justify how something costing nearly as much as an inexpensive rifle or bow could possibly not live up to our expectations in every way.

Perhaps the best way to answer this question is this way.   Assume one of your hunting companions makes a new equipment purchase making big claims it can be a potential game changer in the outcome of the hunt.   Do you feel the pressure to buy because you don’t want them to have an advantage over you?   Or do you initially scoff at the notion that any newfangled equipment has such revolutionary value that it will likely change the outcome of the hunt?

As an aside, sometimes I fear those of us in the hunting community put too much credence in the next new gadget that comes along.   Oh, sure, many of them are fun to play with and the science behind them can make sense, but is it truly necessary?

It’s sort of like the deer whistles that people mounted on their truck bumpers several decades ago to scare deer away and to avoid collisions and damage.   Did they work?   Oh, you bet they did…but likely not for the reason you might imagine.   They worked because the people who invested in them watched the ditches more closely hoping to see the deer run away by hearing the whistles.   The psychology was people like to see their investments paying off.   This can be true even if the science behind the product being sold is never actually field-proven.

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

The Fine Line Between Hunting Success Or Failure Is NO EXCUSES!!

Spend any time in the typical deer hunting camp and you will hear hunters explaining away their lack of success.   Spend any time in a duck hunting camp you will also find hunters lamenting why things didn’t go as intended.   Huddle around parked vehicles during a pheasant hunt and you’ll hear countless reasons why that rooster kept wingin’ over the horizon.

Excuses…nothing but damn excuses!!!

Hunters are full of them.   In fact, some hunters are famous for always having a new one just for the appropriate occasion.   Fact of the matter is it’s our human nature to blame equipment or circumstances for our shortcomings rather than the person pulling the trigger or releasing the arrow.

Now, that’s not to say equipment can’t indeed malfunction or who would have predicted that 100–year-old tree to finally topple over just as the deer was moving into range before scaring off…but in most situations hunting excuses = joke.   They always have and they always will.

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Truth is the hunter who always looks to excuses for lack of hunting success may simply be joking around and having some fun.   And certainly there’s nothing wrong with that.   Yet, there’s a faction within our hunting community where excuses become a serious crutch underscoring poor performance.   We all have bad luck on occasion, but too many hunters create their own misfortune and the excuse is a crutch highlighting it.

None of us like to admit that we didn’t spend enough time this summer on the archery range to get our bow really dialed in for optimal deer hunting performance.   Likewise, the duck hunter who never made it out for trap night at the local sportsman’s club shouldn’t expect to be flawless in those follow-thru shots on fast-moving waterfowl.  Much the same can be said for the pheasant hunter who fumbled with the gun taking it off safety messing up the timing of his shot.

Often times success in hunting means beating the odds.   The room for error isn’t that great to allow for amateur mistakes, yet still see positive results.   Sometimes a hunter can get downright lucky, but most times success is a product from lots of practice with equipment plus deploying an educated game plan knowing the animal.   In other words, hunting success is like an investment…the dividends you are allowed to take are directly related to the value a person puts into it.

It’s important for hunters who genuinely seek success to eliminate any need for excuses cropping into a conversation.   When things go wrong and failure results, the hunter who accepts personal responsibility will be miles ahead of the hunter who seemingly has an excuse ready in every pocket.

This fall it should be every hunter’s goal to minimize the use of excuses no matter how tempting they can be.   If you missed the shot, accept that a few more days at the range could have paid off in better results.   If that animal responded to your calling, but just wouldn’t present itself…accept that perhaps you’re not the expert caller you’d like to think you are and you need more practice.   If you’re not seeing action, maybe it’s time to realize how staying out late and partying isn’t a priority compared to getting up early, feeling refreshed and energized for the morning hunt.

This year, I’m calling for NO EXCUSES allowed in my hunting camps!   Let’s focus on success by capturing that inner predator spirit present inside each of us.   Besides, stories of success are a lot more fun to share.

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