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.

Be Careful As Blogger Outreach By Brands Can Influence Opinion

Let me be perfectly clear…I like FREE things just as much as the next person.   If someone offers me some new hunting gear to try…most times I say “heck yeah!”   When an outdoors company tries to reach out to me by inviting me to some sponsored event…they certainly grab my attention very quickly.

Point is, bloggers are becoming an increasingly important cog in the marketing mechanism and if you post words to a blog—no matter what the blog’s emphasis may be—sooner or later opportunity will come knocking.

In full disclosure, over the years I have attended my share of sponsored trips.   I’ve also received my fair share of nifty products to test and to evaluate (with sponsor hopes I would eventually write about it).   To be honest, I even had an opportunity next weekend to fly to New York for a sponsored event that would have been loaded with fun and activity.   I graciously turned them down.   Why?   Because as a blogger I believe you need to carefully pick and choose your activities or you fall victim to being a corporate puppet.

When you know a company is investing hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in trying to woo your positive opinion to their advantage it’s only human nature to feel somewhat indebted.   When testing a product you can give it a fair evaluation…and then return it.   Yet, with sponsored activities there is no way to return the airfare, the lodging, the food and all the other incidental expenses along the way.   It leaves a blogger feeling somewhat pressured to be an ambassador of the company whether or not deep down they really want to.

I feel it’s important for blog readers to understand when the blogger they are reading has strong marketing ties to a #sponsor.   Not only is such disclosure mandated by the Federal Trade Commission, but it’s also simple journalistic courtesy.  (Be sure to read my blog’s disclosure statement HERE)BloggerDreaming

The days when journalists self-pay for their own expenses while on assignment seem to be disappearing rather quickly.   And that’s okay, but readers need to understand the dynamics of reporting has changed over the past few decades.   Often times, what reads like pure journalism of days of old is now quite blurred with a gray line when a blogger is truly more akin to a pro-staffer representing a corporate entity.

So, why is all this important?   Honestly, I feel from time to time it’s critical for a blog’s readers to understand their blogger’s philosophy on the topic.   As you’ve learned, I don’t go on every trip that is offered to me nor do I accept every piece of hunting or fishing gear that could come my way.   I get several offers trying to get me involved with companies each week, but I feel it important to be selective about such relationships.

On the other hand, I do believe there are bloggers out there who will use their Internet platform to harvest every opportunity that comes their way.   They feel no shame in sacrificing unbiased content for the rewards reaped on them by a brand’s blogger outreach program.   That’s a choice they make.

The next time you scrutinize any blog post talking about a product or a brand ask yourself why it was written the way it was.   Did the blogger owe those kind words, or was it truly coming from the heart?   Moreover, ask questions.   If the blogger failed to disclose a sponsorship relationship don’t just assume that none exists.   Sadly, some bloggers still don’t understand the obligation they have to their readers to be honest and upfront about such things.

No, it is quite doubtful I have gone on my last sponsored outing or accepted a final product looking for my expert testing and evaluation.   Yet, I promise such opportunities are each carefully considered on its merits to see how the experience might add or detract from my blogging task.   I have too much integrity for the writing craft to accept some opportunity that holds future expectations of a positive endorsement when one isn’t rightfully deserved.

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

Doing The Things That Count In Life


I haven’t been the most active on this blog site over the past few years and for that I do NOT apologize.   What you say?   If you’re serious about blogging why in heaven’s green earth are you not sorry?

It’s simple.   I have been enjoying my time being a dad first and foremost.

Now, I know what you’re about to say.   Well, many people have been dads before me and will be so after me.   I get that.   I understand that.   I also know there are many fathers who will not let raising their kids get in the way of their next fishing or hunting trip.   I certainly respect that…but things are different for me at this stage of my life.

I became a biological father at the ripe old age of 45 and I contend that being an older father makes you see the world just a bit differently.   Oh, that’s not to take anything away from those dads in their 20’s who try to do it all juggling both a family and an active outdoors life.   But when you’re older I think you recognize the choices you make are more important.   At fatherhood, you get one chance to do it right.   In the outdoors if you screw up…well, you can try it again next season to do it better.


When I was actively blogging on a much more regular basis I would be doing so evenings after supper or mornings before going to work.   Now I find these precious moments absorbed in fixing toys, getting kids ready and off to school, you know…the typical dad things.   But rather than rush through them to move on to other tasks…I find myself totally immersed in being there for my sweet 5y/o daughter.

You see, when I was just 10 years old I lost my dad.   My dad was great, but he was active and very busy in life.   Oh, sure, I got to know him for only a short period of my life, but it certainly was tragically cut short when I lost him.

I have no regrets.   My dad was the sort of family man trying to scrape a living and make a better future for his family.   He worked hard.   He laughed hard.   And he wasn’t always there for me when I needed him.   But I understood.

When you are in your 20’s and perhaps your 30’s you feel that life centers around you and that you’ve made lots of sacrifices in life to get to where you’re at…now it’s time to reap the rewards.   Sure, that continues to be true in your 40’s and 50’s, but with that increasing maturity you also come to realize that it’s not always the what in life that is important, but the who.

In my little girl I see a child hungering for attention from her daddy much like I once did from my father.

I will still try to make posts to this blog as often as I possibly can, but understand what counts in life is not how many words you put in your blog during the course of the year.   Nope, instead…what truly matters is how you spent your time doing the things that count in life.

When I am absent from this blog you can rest assured I am spending quality time with my little buddy.   That said…are you doing the things that truly count in your life?   Tell me about them in the comments below.

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