Hello everyone! It's been a while since I have posted and just this past week something hit very close to home. The article below happened right across the river from our hunting land in Laurens County. We have killed a few hogs on our own land so this was very scary. My Dad called the Laurens County Department Health Department to confirm this and called our Game Warden we are friends with who said this type of disease 'brucellosis' is all over the state of South Carolina with hogs. I highly recommend you all read it and take the necessary precautions when hog hunting. What are your thoughts?
Man Hospitalized With Illness After Hog Hunting Trip
Then Gideon said to God, ?If You will deliver Israel through me, as You have spoken, behold, I will put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I will know that You will deliver Israel through me, as You have spoken.? And it was so. When he arose early the next morning and squeezed the fleece, he drained the dew from the fleece, a bowl full of water. -- Judges 6:36-38
On a hot September afternoon in 2010, I sat high in a tree in an aluminum climbing stand. Cicadas buzzed loudly in the woods behind me, and the constant whine of mosquitoes was quickly pushing me to the end of my patience. A drop of sweat rolled down the side of my face and splashed onto the limb of the bow that lay in my lap.
In front of me, a stick snapped in the woods and the little flock of doves that was milling around in the tiny clearing scattered, their wings whistling as they beat the air trying to gain altitude. Soon another stick cracked, and then I heard the unmistakable crunch of leaves as a deer approached the clearing.
Slowly and cautiously I stood up in the stand, feeling the pull of the safety harness as it tightened around me. I raised my bow into an upright position, being careful not to let the nocked arrow bang against the rails of the stand or the riser of the bow. The cicadas ceased their buzzing, and a hot wind swirled around me.
Through an opening in the thick brush that surrounded the little clearing, I saw a hint of brown; the body of the deer. Just a few more steps, I thought. Come on deer, come get some acorns.
With a loud snort that almost made me fall out of the stand, the deer turned and vanished back the way it had come. The sound of its footfalls thudded against the hard earth, and I knew that it was gone for good. And I knew that any other deer in the area had probably heard it leave.
Cursing silently, I settled back down into the stand and rested the back of my head against the tree. Immediately, I was regretful for my response. God, I prayed. The early part of this season has been such a struggle. It?s hotter than heck out here, and the mosquitoes are terrible, and in five trips afield I haven?t seen a single deer. Last year was such a great year, and now this. Have I angered you in some way?
Around me, the birds slowly started moving again, and the cicadas resumed their loud buzzing. A squirrel darted into the clearing, grabbed an acorn from the base of a white oak tree, and then ran back into the woods. There was no answer from heaven, only the shriek of a fighter plane as it crossed the sky above me as it headed back to Shaw Air Force base from wherever mission it had been on.
I tried again. God, if you truly love me will you send me a deer right now? It doesn?t have to be a monster. Just a shootable buck; one that fits in with our club rules. Wasn?t there some verse in the Bible about some old Israelite who had tested God by asking Him to wet a sheepskin, but not the ground around it, if he was going to succeed in battle? If that was the case, would God not give me a similar sign?
As the day moved on, the sun began to set in the western sky, and still no deer appeared. I heard no further movement in the woods, and when the last light faded I climbed down from my tree and hiked back to my truck, tired and dejected. I made the long drive down the logging road back to our sign-in board where the other hunters had gathered to talk about what they had seen.
Many of them had seen groups of does, and one fellow got a good look at what he said was a really nice buck from a distance. Why them, I wondered, and not me? And this time I heard that still small voice in the depths of my mind. Your time will come, the voice said, and that was all. I believed those words, but still felt short-changed on the way the hunting season was going. The previous three or four seasons had gone so well that I just knew that this was going to be another good year.
As I drove home that night, I asked myself how many other times in the past have I sat for hours in a deer stand and asked God to send me a deer. How many prayers have I lifted up to Him saying, ?Could I have that one big buck today; the one that I?ll remember for the rest of my life?? And how many times have I asked Him to give me a sign that this would be the year that I got my biggest deer ever?
What causes us to seek for reassurance from God about the things in our life? We are told over and over that we should trust Him, and yet these signs that we ask for show a lack of trust in Him. Do we not believe that His heart for us is truly good? Or do we think that He is holding back on us in some way? Upon careful thought, I really think that this is what we believe, and why we don?t trust Him the way we should. Thought Questions In what ways have you tried to test God? Have you tried to determine His will by testing Him in one way or another? Why do you think we don?t always fully trust God? Is it because we are surrounded by fallible men, and we lump God in with them? Why don?t we always elevate Him to the place where He belongs? Now think about Gideon from the quote at the beginning of this chapter. Why do you think he tested God not once, but twice before he went into battle?
For those of us who love to read, there are a few good books that help shape our lives. When I come across a book that I truly love, I am not one to read it once and set it aside. I like the familiarity of a book that I've come back to time and time again over the years. It doesn't matter to me that I know how the book ends, because it's not the destination that matters... it's the journey itself that gives me joy.
There is no book that I've read from cover to cover more than Robert Ruark's classic The Old Man and the Boy. If you're a sportsman and a reader and have not read this book, then you really need to drop everything and go get a copy. The choices that Ruark made in his life were often tragic, and he died far too early, but the glimpses of his early life that he gives us in this book (and, to a lesser degree, in The Old Man's Boy Grows Older) are nothing short of magic. No outdoor writer before or since has come close to giving us the gift that Ruark gave us when he wrote this book. I make sure to read the original book once a year, and I read Grows Older once every two or three years.
I also hold his book Horn of the Hunter in high esteem, since it deals with African safari, which is another passion of mine. In this book, Ruark gives us the details of his first safari in brutal honesty, from the highs to the lows. Though not nearly as good as his Old Man books, Horn gives us a glimpse of the man that Ruark became, and his love for Africa shows through in every page.
When it comes to more modern books, Joe Hutto's Illumination in the Flatwoods provides an absolutely facinating look at the wild turkey. In this book, Hutto comes into possession of a clutch of turkey eggs, which he incubates and hatches, and then joins their "family", walking with them in the woods and even roosting with them on occasion. A must-read for turkey hunters.
For Christian men, I have to recommend the books of John Eldredge; particularly Wild at Heart. Eldredge and his books have literally changed my life, showing me how to live with an understanding of what Christianity really means and what it is to live in what he calls the "larger story." In 2008 I attended Eldredge's "Wild at Heart Boot Camp" in the mountains of Colorado, and although I was sick for most of the weekend, I went away from the conference with a different outlook on my spirituality.
The Preseason - A Chapter from Deer Hunter's Devotional
?The LORD will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul. The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever.? Psalm 121:7-8
As August arrives, the heart of the Sportsman begins to stir. He knows that fall will not be far behind, and with it comes the opening of the hunting seasons. There is much work to be done before the fields and forests are ready for opening day. Food plots will have been planted and tended throughout the summer, but there are still many other things left to do.
The grass along the sides of logging roads will need to be bush-hogged, and the summer rains may have eroded the roads themselves, cutting deep channels into the soft red clay. Growing trees may have pushed some of the permanent ladder stands out of position, causing them to tilt in uncomfortable directions. Some of the trails will have been blocked by fallen trees, and there is always brush that needs to be trimmed.
With so much physical labor to be accomplished, it's easy to forget that we should do some work in the spiritual world as well. The Lord has given us this incredible wilderness to enjoy, and it's important that we remember to thank Him for it and to offer prayers for a safe and successful year in the deer woods. Mixing prayer and deer hunting ? or even pre-deer hunting activities ? is a wonderful thing, and this year I intend to do more of that than ever before.
I can remember one season a few years back when I went down to my lease in late August. I drove to every stand on the property and prayed over them all, asking that the men who hunted from each one would remain safe, that they would enjoy their time in the woods, and that they would see the hand of God as they spent time in His creation.
Stopping at every single stand that I could find, I asked that the men's thoughts would turn to God as they sat silently in the woods waiting for deer. I asked that each stand be productive and that the men who hunted from them would use wisdom as they saw deer and decided whether or not to make the shot. Though I am telling you about this now, I did the whole thing in secret, praying ?in my closet? as Scripture instructs us to do. I did this not only because it seemed like a good idea, but because I saw it as a way of getting closer to God.
We have thirty or forty permanent stands on our lease, so you can imagine that praying over each one was an all day job. And so it was, but it also gave me the opportunity to get rid of any wasp nests that had been built into the corners of our box blinds, and to mark each stand on my GPS. This year I'm going to pray over my stands again, and as I do that I will take time to notice the direction that each stand is facing and will make a chart that will help me choose which stand to hunt according to which way the wind is blowing on a given day. I see no issue with being productive both spiritually and physically at the same time.
Some of our deer stands are starting to get old, and many of the wooden ladders are weakening. As I visit each stand during the preseason, I'll inspect the ladders for loose nails, hammering them back into place or adding new nails if necessary. Prayers for safety are particularly important at the older stands, and I will be diligent in asking God that no one get hurt in one of them. We haven't had an accident on the lease yet, and I don't want this year to be any different in that respect.
As I finish my day of prayer on the lease, I will stop at the main gate and ask for God's blessing upon the land as a whole. I'll ask that we continue to have access to this beautiful piece of property, and that we would use it in such a way as to glorify Him. I'll ask that He guard our coming and going on the property this year, and that He protect us from harm. There are dangers like rattlesnakes, coyotes and bears on this property, not to mention the occasional trespasser. I'll ask that God protect us in our encounters with any of them.
I'll close by asking that He bless even the animals themselves, growing majestic racks on the bucks and good size and health on the does. I'll ask that the turkeys have a successful breeding season, and that the birds and squirrels are plentiful. I'll even pray for the eagles that have nested in the pines across the road from the lake.
All of this is a way of connecting with both the Lord and the environment. Remembering God in our hunting endeavors draws us closer to Him. Paul instructs us to pray without ceasing, and praying over your stands and your deer woods are a good way to implement this. Walk with God not only in your daily life, but in all of your activities. You?ll be glad that you did.
ACTION POINT: Pray over the stands on your deer lease this year. Pray specifically for safety during your hunts and for a bountiful year. Pray for men to come to Christ as they see His hand at work in the incredible world of the outdoors that surrounds them.
In the most recent news and events we?ve seen how countries in the Middle East have used, and are using, Twitter, Facebook, & YouTube to organize, communicate, and overthrow governments, regimes, and dictators. The internet has increased social connectivity and is changing the fabric of many cultures around us. The same principle of technology being used to change the dominant narrative within a society parallels a shift currently going on within the outdoor industry.
Narrowing the focus, I?m specifically talking about how online video sites such as YouTube and Vimeo are changing the outdoor industry as they relate to hunting and fishing TV shows. What change you ask? Well, it?s not quite so evident yet, but as technology becomes more integrated into the lives of outdoorsmen it will become more noticeable. To further investigate this notion let?s look at the current dominant narrative, the disruption, and the resulting model that is arising out of the disruption.
The Dominant Narrative Currently, hunting and fishing TV shows are watched by many outdoorsmen on networks like the Outdoor Channel, ESPN Outdoors, the Pursuit Channel, Versus, and other networks similar in programming. These shows consist of quality footage, professional editing, and action packed content. The TV shows are fun to watch and they set the bar high for what trophy animals are in the outdoor world, they introduce new products, and give informative tips to the viewing audience. Many of these TV shows are made possible via the contributions of sponsors and other organizations that have a vested financial interest in the success of these shows. The sponsors and networks also have a financial interest in the success of the personalities they spend tons of marketing money creating. These shows reach their target audience sitting on a couch in a living room taking in the action?and yes, I?m an audience member too! This is the model that we have grown accustomed to expect and accept.
The positives for this model are obvious?quality content delivered directly to the target audience. However, there are some drawbacks to this model as well that can easily go unnoticed. Some flaws for this model are:
Cost - To have a show you must have financial backing or support from sponsors. Essentially it takes money to produce, edit, and buy the air time for the show. Thus, the need for financial backing from sponsors is never-ending. This model means you have to have money in order to have a show, to have your products(s) featured on a show, or to be a personality on a show. This model is expensive and makes it difficult for budding entrepreneurs and smaller organizations to get product placement in these ?prime time? shows. The barrier created by the necessary financial backing is a strong deterrent for many trying to ?break in? to the industry whether they have product(s), talent, or wisdom they aspire to share with the outdoor world. Many really neat products or bits of knowledge have never received high amounts of exposure simply because the people behind them couldn?t foot the bill to get publicity on this level of shows. It?s an understandable dynamic and it?s also becoming an outdated one.
No Exposure for Grass Roots Hunters ? Do you know someone in your local area who is an avid or exceptional hunter? I do and I also know that their knowledge and experiences could make for some good TV material?or at least content good enough to draw interest in the outdoor community. In the current model, these exceptional, local hunters won?t get much exposure. I also know some guys who were pushing to have their own hunting show on TV, but they eventually gave up as they couldn?t get enough financial backing to make it possible. The current model within the outdoor TV show industry makes it nearly impossible for grass-roots hunters to get exposure and promote their ways of hunting or fishing, their knowledge, and wisdom.
Authenticity ? In today?s society we seek authenticity...realness? and we can easily pick up on it when something or someone doesn?t seem to be 100% real. It?s not that hunters on TV are viewed as fake, but we, in the back of our minds, always think that these guys are hunting on a ranch somewhere or that they?re hunting in a pen. Whether they are or not is yours to decide. I?m sure you?ve heard outdoorsmen talking about how their hunting/fishing experiences ?aren?t like the hunting/fishing you see on TV? and this statement alludes to the notion that outdoor TV shows don?t accurately represent real life examples that they experience during hunting or fishing season. Whether the outdoor show is 100% real or not, the perception of the viewer often times leans towards the less authentic side of the argument. And as you know, perception is reality.
Lack of Availability & Sharing ? TV shows run on a schedule. You can easily figure this out by looking on your program guide in the newspaper or on your network?s program guide. You can also record programs and watch them at a later time. These are neat features for TV, but it still lacks in a few areas. You can?t watch these programs on a mobile device as easily. You can?t ?like? or ?share? or embed or search for and easily find these videos so that you can effortlessly share them with others. If the shows aren?t seen on TV then they?re not as easily accessible for viewing. Sharing and searching is out of the question as well in the current model.
The Disruption Enter YouTube and Vimeo. In this day and age anybody with a video camera can easily post videos for the world to see. The ability to document events on video and post them online has caused drastic changes in the way we communicate and share videos and media.
The videos posted on YouTube & Vimeo reach their target audience wherever they are via their mobile devices, Iphones, Droids, Ipads, Galaxy Tabs, computers, etc. We can consume these videos at work or at home. Though, the target audience for consumption of these videos is a mobile generation that?s constantly on the move, has a short attention span, is accustomed to interacting with media, and spends more time online than they do watching TV.
The online videos are instantly searchable, shareable, ?likeable?, embeddable, measurable, and they have the ability to go viral very quickly. These features are the same features that TV lacks. The new generations of hunters are pushing this disruption and in doing so are contributing, video by video, to the paradigm shift that is being observed. The end result will be a new, blended model in the way outdoorsmen consume videos and consequently a new way for marketers to reach their target audiences will be created along with the possibility for anyone to become a well known outdoorsmen.
The New Shifted Model The new model for video content consumpetion will consist of a blend of hunting TV shows that air on networks as well as prominent hunters who present their video content in an online, shareable, searchable, measurable, and ratable format. This new blended model has several benefits for many involved in this industry. Some of those benefits are:
More authentic/genuine content ? There is just something about a home video that gives an authentic feel. Whether it?s the bloopers or bumps of the cameras or moments of unsteady handling, when I view one of these videos I feel like the video is genuine. I feel like I have something in common with the person shooting the video and that common link is that the creator of this video is an everyday hunter/fisher just like me. It may just be me, but I feel that I can identify more with someone a few miles down the road from me with a hand-held camera than I can with someone hunting in a distant state harvesting deer/turkeys that are unrealistic animals for my area. This new, blended model will give me both types of content that I can consume. I can see the fancy editing and high-dollar product placement on TV as well as being able to see online content that I feel I can identify with on a greater level.
Cheaper marketing of sponsoring organizations - Along with working with ?big names? in the hunting TV show industry, sponsoring organizations will become more open to working with grass-roots hunters to have their products featured in their YouTube and Vimeo videos. Why would an organization reach out to the ?good old boys? who post YouTubes & Vimeos? They will do this for several reasons with the main one being that the cost will be much cheaper while the reach will become much further. Instead of having to pay for air time, editing, production, and backing high-costing TV personalities, organizations will easily save money and also work with local hunters to feature their products in the blogs and/or videos of the grass-roots outdoorsmen. They may donate products to these hunters or work some agreement up for promotions, but whatever they do will be cheaper for them than what they?re currently doing. The smaller entrepreneurs will start to jump on this and will start reaching the grass roots hunters and will cover ground in this arena earlier than the large organizations will because it is initially more attractive to them. The big boys will be a little behind, but they will catch up once they take note of the shift and start operating in the new blended model. Also, initiating change within a large organization takes more time so it will take the larger organizations more time to adjust.
Large organizations and smaller entrepreneurs will now both be able to benefit by receiving publicity and promotions from this new, blended model. Since viewers of the next generations will increasingly seek authentic videos from people they can identify with ?and will access the content where they spend most of their time (online)? the new generation of consumers will lean more toward online video than they will hunting TV shows. When consumers change where they?re viewing their media then so will the location of marketing change somewhat for the sponsors and organizations promoting products.
Increasing quality of videos - When hunters start understanding the ripple effects of the new, blended model they will start producing higher quality home videos. Just look at what has taking place on our site within this past year. Hunters are now carrying video cameras in the woods and are commentating while they video when possible. The videos submitted by our site users and bloggers are getting better all the time as well (and so are the available tools for creating videos). Hunters are spending more time documenting and editing the videos from their hunts. Current video editing software allows for some great, creative videos in the end. Over time more and more hunters will have better software and will produce higher quality videos and they will post them online! Organizations are noticing and are starting to donate products for our bloggers to field test and blog about. It?s cheap for them and the grass-roots outdoorsmen directly interface with the audience they want to reach which, in our case, is the audience of our fellow outdoorsmen here on the site!
Increased Exposure for Grass Roots Hunters ? Through these video sharing sites, local hunters will have an avenue to share their stories. In the new, blended model hunters will easily be able to reach greater size audiences (at the audience?s convenience too). The barrier for getting exposure will no longer be determined by the amount of financial backing that you can obtain from sponsors. Because of this increased level of content sharing hunting, knowledge, and wisdom will be more readily available. In short, anyone can create a YouTube or Vimeo channel and begin building their credibility and reputation online. Just go to Derek?s YouTube channel and tell me that you don?t see content that is intriguing to you?and this will happen to a whole generation of outdoorsmen who are figuring this out just like we are.
Ease of Availability - A TV show may air a couple of times. A YouTube/Vimeo video will always be there and is accessible 24-7. It?s way more convenient to find a video via Google search at your leisure than it is to find a TV show and be present when it airs or either DVR it and watch it later. Another intriguing fact about online video is the possibility for the video to ?go viral? and quickly circulate the net. Users can access these vides on any device and can connect from virtually any location. Its real time and it?s social and it?s easy.
More easily measurable ? Video views are quickly and easily measurable. I know TV shows have the Nielsen ratings and other methods of finding out viewer stats, but seeing how many views a video has on YouTube or Vimeo is way more easily accessible than waiting for ratings to come out and find out how many people watched a specific show. The view count on YouTube & Vimeo is as close to real-time insight as one can get. The ?view-count? on each video is a direct signal as to the visibility an outdoorsman is receiving and it?s easily available to both the sponsors and the hunters. The transparency reveals the truth and the stats can?t be manipulated. These quick and easy metrics help sponsoring organizations make an easy assessment of the value of working with various outdoorsmen.
Conclusion Don?t mistake what I?m saying here? I don?t think hunting shows are going to end because I think there?s a place and demand for them. I?m just saying that over time they won?t be in as high of demand. I think this change will become more evident in the coming years, but you can see it happening already if you simply look around. Just look on YouTube and search for hunting or fishing videos and you?ll see a ton of outdoorsmen having their own ?shows? via their YouTube or Vimeo Channels. Outdoorsmen are picking up on it and the sponsors are slowly starting to as well and they should!
What means more to you?? seeing someone on TV shoot a deer/turkey on a ranch in a distant state or seeing one of your fellow South Carolinians bag a good buck or turkey on a YouTube video?
The shift has begun.
The below blog entry was submitted by a SC hunter who wanted to share his story and lesson learned and who has also asked to remain anonymous:
Everyone learns the tremendous difference between right and wrong at a very young age. Some of us choose to do the right thing and, often times, some of us choose to do the wrong thing. The sum of the consequences of our choices is what comes to define us as individuals. Doing the right thing is not always the easiest path to take, but it is definitely the most fulfilling. The following is a true story about what recently happened to me and how I chose the hard path to do the right thing.
About two weeks ago, I was in a deer stand hoping for a buck to walk out. A few does and a fawn or two had come out, but no bucks. About an hour before dark, what I thought was another fawn walked into the shooting lane. I brought the rifle up to look at it through the scope and it was a huge bobcat. He wasn?t hanging around long, so I shot him just as his front foot hit the edge of the lane. I actually considered mounting the cat because of his size. The next day I posted pictures of the cat here to the site. I was proud of it! Not once did I give a single thought about any regulations involved with shooting bobcats whatsoever. The next day a buddy of mine at work asked me if we were supposed to shoot bobcats during this time of year. I replied to my friend ?Why not?? I thought that bobcats were regulated like coyotes, which is a year round open season. After a little bit of research I realized that I was wrong. Bobcat season opens November 25th in my game zone. I had broken the law.
I had made a mistake and even posted it for everyone to see! I had to swallow a little pride and do what was right and bite the bullet. I called the Department of Natural Resources to find out what I needed to do. A few hours later I ended up meeting a DNR officer who subsequently wrote me a ticket for $140 and 10 points off of my hunting license. I did not enjoy paying the fine, but if I wouldn?t have reported myself and had gotten caught later, I could have served jail time and paid 10 times more than $140. I have no doubt that I made the right decision about turning myself in to DNR. Since then, a few of my friends have called me an idiot and a few have said I did the right thing. I don?t mind the name calling considering I still have a clean criminal record after the fact.
The point of me telling this story is to show that ignorance is no excuse when it comes to breaking laws. My ignorance to the hunting laws in my area could have caused me major trouble, but I chose to do the difficult, but right thing. Now I am in a little trouble and am missing some points on my hunting license, but more importantly, I still have my integrity and peace of mind about my actions.
I encourage everyone to read the rules and regulations book before you go out in the woods so that you won?t find yourself in a predicament similar to mine. It is also a good idea to fold the book up and stick it in your pack or pocket or wherever it can fit in case you need it while you?re out.
In our high school weight room we had a sign that said "Character is who you are when no one is watching" and I think that statement holds a lot of water. I applaud the hunter for demonstrating good character in this situation even when he knew there would be a penalty. I also applaud the hunter for submitting the entry and turning the situation into a positive one for everyone. We all have to play by the rules, so if you don't know them then just travel over to SCDNR for more information. If we all respect the game, the environment, and the rules, then we're only helping ourselves to be safer and helping to ensure fun in the outdoors for future generations.
Years ago when you heard the word ?Pro-Staff? what did you think? Is it the same thing you think in 2010? A recent conversation I had brought this subject up and had me thinking about it which initiated this blog entry.
When I think about the word ?Pro-Staff? I think of a person, or a group of people, who are well recognized and respected in the hunting community who, may either get paid or who receive free products from organizations, to go out and test their new products. Coupled with that is the notion which may only exist in my mind, that the organization giving the products uses some type of feedback loop where the recognized hunter lets the organization know how their product(s) performed and can be improved. From this feedback, I envision the organizations making adjustments to their products in order to make them as good as possible. Thus, the hunter gets publicity, new products, and the organizations create solid products in which they feel confident because they?ve been field tested by the best. This is the definition of the term ?Pro-Staff? as I see it in my mind?.or as I use to see it.
Recently I?ve come to meet a lot of people who say they are ?on the ___(fill in the company)___ Pro-Staff?. More and more often I bump into people I?ve never heard of before who say they?re on a ?Pro-Staff?. Some even claim to be on multiple ?Pro-Staffs?. Is the hunting industry growing so fast that you can find a ?Pro-Staff? member right around the corner or is it just a coincidence? As I?ve come to hear the phrase used more frequently, I?ve recognized a growing grey area around the meaning of those two words?at least in my mind. Though, I could be unaware of some company?s aggressive campaign strategy surrounding making local hunters members of their ?Pro-Staffs? and if I am please let me know, but somehow I think the term is getting a little diluted and misused. Maybe orgs don?t mind letting people be on their ?Pro-Staff? because if they tell someone that they are on their ?Pro Staff? and send them some stickers and/or a shirt then instantly the person becomes a ____(fill in the company)____ promoter in their area? Maybe that?s the point of being on a ?Pro-Staff? though.
Now if you?re on a ?Pro-Staff? don?t be offended by my taking a critical lens and analyzing the meaning of the word ?Pro-Staff?. Words do have to have meaning right? I?m just asking the question. I may just be uninformed and out of the loop. So don?t go and get your feathers ruffled, rather enlighten me in the comment section below if you wish.
How many ?Pro-Staffers? do you know or have you met? Do organizations benefit from having hunters as members of ?Pro-Staffs??and if so, how? What is the criteria for being on a ?Pro-Staff?? Is it merely marketing strategy or is it to enhance the quality of their products? Is there a difference between being a field-tester and a ?Pro-Staffer?? Again, I?m just exploring the meaning of the phrase.
For all I know, I may be on a few ?Pro-Staffs? right now and not even know it. Maybe WeHuntSC.com should start a ?Pro-Staff? just for laughs, but not really. I think we?ll start selling SC-shed-antler-turkey-call-strikers and if we send you some + some stickers then you can be on our ?Pro-Staff?.
So what is your definition of a ?pro-staffer??
As a web developer and a hunter I find myself taking on two contrasting identities and, often times, bouncing back and forth between the two. When I?m with my co-workers I?m the ?web guy? with a country accent and when I?m with my hunting buddies I?m ?the guy who spends too much time up in city working on computers?(which is not really workin)?! You may be just like me, the guy who makes the commute to work in the city and returns back south chasing deer, turkeys, and anything that will bite a hook on the weekends. If you are, then you'll be able to empathize with my sentiments that follow. Accordingly, no matter on which end I find myself, I end up receiving a hard time from both my fellow hunters and co-workers. Though, I?ve come to appreciate both sides (and the hard time that they give me).
To help me illustrate what I?m describing a little, let me tell you a story about one of my friends from the city. I frequently find myself talking people from Charlotte into coming down to Pageland and ?letting their hair down?. (My dad says I ought to work on the Pageland Chamber of Commerce). I have a friend who is a New Yorker that now lives in Charlotte and I talked him into coming down to the country for a day. I took him fishing and we spent a few hours on the pond and really didn?t catch much. Towards the end of the trip I asked him what he thought about fishing. His response kind of caught me off guard. I expected him to be critical of my guiding abilities and to talk smack to me. Instead he replied saying that he really enjoyed fishing. I thought he was being sarcastic and I asked him why and he responded ?Do you hear the birds? and I said ?yes?. Then he noted to me that he never hears the birds where he lives in the city. He went on saying how he didn?t know of any pond that he could go fishing in that was close to Charlotte. He commented on how he really enjoyed the peacefulness of just floating on a pond simply because it wasn?t something he gets to do often and that it was relaxing to him.
Earlier that same day I had taken him out to a shooting range and it was his first time shooting a rifle, shotgun, and pistol. He actually hit the bull?s-eye on his first shot with the rifle, but it did bloody up his brow a little. He was even able to hit some skeet as well. He did go home with a nasty bruise on his shoulder too. Thinking he would talk junk to me about his shooting experience, I asked him how he felt about shooting and he responded that he really enjoyed it as well. He spoke of shooting the rifle and the immense moment of silence right before he pulled the trigger. He talked about the power and intensity that is packed into those few seconds of silence and yet how he didn?t even hear the gun go off. Yes, he learned and had a new appreciation. He thanked me for bringing him to shoot and for allowing him to get a new perspective on guns. He even took the target with the hole in the bulls-eye back to his house to show off!
From my friends responses it appeared that the moments he experienced "out of his element" were invaluable to him and helped him gain perspective. I believe this is the case because lessons learned when you find yourself seemingly out of your element and somewhat vulnerable offer the most room to grow. The things that hunters find commonplace were new learning experiences and good memories for my friend. He was open to coming down and, as any country boy would do, we tried to get him ?countrified? as much as possible... and it was fine by him. His normal identity is that of a city boy (who at first holds a gun on his shoulder as if it were a surface to air missile launcher). By coming down and living the life of a country boy for a day, he learned and benefitted from real-world experiences that derived knowledge that you can?t get from a book.
My friend found himself in the middle of a day that was outside of his normal environment. As I thought about his experience and how he was so grateful and appreciative, I reflected on my own life and realized that my ?normal? is being caught in between these two environments. Going back and forth between the identities is my "normal" and I?ve learned to appreciate it. I like to, how do they say, ?get in where I fit in? and that?s about all anyone can do. Though, to ?fit-in? in the contrasting environments takes a little vulnerability and openness with the end goal being to learn about the other side and yes, to learn about one?s self.
Not surprisingly, one?s identity is directly linked to what they do and the activities in which they are engaged. I'm engaged in more than one activity which leaves me actualizing multiple identitities. Though, it is only from the perspective of the fragmented identity (i.e. living the experiences of both worlds) that I am able to draw a true appreciation and understanding for both sides. Because I?m not always in the city, I appreciate certain aspects of a city life such as being able to go somewhere where nobody knows me, or the ability to get to almost any type of store relatively quickly, or being able to work with an organization that has a large scale web site who can offer me employment. On the flip side, because I?m not always in the country, I appreciate going to a restaurant and knowing the locals, or the winding country roads that are free of major traffic jams, being able to get out in the woods and work with my hands...and, as my friend said, to hear nature around me. The fragmented identity sharply brings into focus the advantages and disadvantages of both sides, allows me to see if and when the two converge, and in doing so brings on diversity and broader horizons. Had I never spent a good deal of time in the city, I wouldn't appreciate the country...and vice versa.
It's not too bad being a ?webneck?.