It was back in the early 90s when I first began to learn how useful the internet could be for planning my hunting and fishing trips.
Even in those early days of instant communication via a computer screen, there was much information for those of us that taught ourselves how to tap into this magic called THE INTERNET.
I often used this brand new tool for learning how fishing was on a distant lake or when the whitetail rut might kick in an area I was planning to hunt. Back then, my college-age daughter and her friends helped me do some of the things with the computer that any grade school child today has grown up knowing. To myself and other sportsmen that were quick to jump on the “technology bandwagon,” the entire outdoors was at our fingertips via a mouse and keyboard.
Before the widespread use of the internet, the things that most sportsmen and women learned was either passed down by our mentors, learned on our own through trial and error or via an article devoted to a particular subject that sparked our interest.
Today, if we wish to learn more about a new hook, bait, rifle or bow, we simply Google the name and BINGO! Everything we wish to know and usually a whole lot more pops up right on the screen, complete with pictures and usually a YouTube video or two showing the product in action.
I was a bit of a late bloomer when it comes to joining Social media “groups” but a couple years ago a buddy encouraged me to join a group that shared one of my outdoor interests.
The process of “joining” was extremely easy. Simply “like” the group/page and I was in, pending approval of the administrator. Approval in these groups usually occurs within a few hours.
I soon learned that all social media groups are not created equal! This particular group was comprised of a handful of “know it all’s” that were quick to reply, often with a rude statement. These were legitimate questions by members simply looking to someone they hoped was well-versed in a particular subject.
As a person who probably had as much experience in the particular topic as anyone, I tried to give a bit of advice now and then, only to be hammered by the resident “experts.”
Needless to say, my tenure with this group was short-lived. I truly wanted to help some of the less experienced members but found my efforts to be fruitless.
After a couple of such less than stellar experiences with Facebook groups, I vowed to never be an active member again. After all, I am an outdoors writer and am actually paid to share my knowledge and experiences. And then I recently stumbled upon a Facebook group titled The Lodge Group Network.
I “clicked” on it and looked at several of the posts and liked what I saw. No negative belittling comments. Just genuinely helpful people having fun and helping each other enjoy the outdoors in the process.
I delved a bit deeper and found pages under this general group about fishing, a general store and trading post and even a group titled “Granddads Cabin” that is devoted to the outdoors of yesteryear. I am proud to say I am now a full-fledged member and enjoying every minute of the experience.
I can share my knowledge about the outdoors freely without the worry of being ridiculed, which was an instant turn-off on the groups I had previously “joined.” When I do have a question, the answers I get are positive and useful.
After being a member a few days, I “messaged” Mr. C.J. Vespucci, who is the founder of The Lodge. Later that day, we spent a good 30 minutes on the phone discussing social media and how it can be best used by the sportsman/woman. Vespucci had also had a few bad experiences with groups and vowed to create a network that was positive, useful and fun for other fishermen and hunters.
We no longer live in an era where going fishing or hunting is as easy as it once was when many more people lived the rural life. Back in the day, many of us simply walked out the back door and hunted birds and small game and even deer in the fall if we were fortunate to live in an area with a good deer population. Fishing was as easy as a short walk or drive to the nearest creek.
Today, getting “out there” might not be as easy as back in the day but thanks to groups such as The Lodge, we sportsmen can interact whenever we have a few minutes to get online. This can be on a lunch break at work or at home in the evening when we feel the need to talk with kindered spirits about a subject we love.
YouTube is another great way to learn about outdoor topics. With a quick “search,” one can learn how to do everything from tie a cinch fishing knot to learn what the best powder charge is in a muzzleloader and just about everything in between.
A few months ago, A good friend that manages a Facebook page titled “Friendlee News” invited me to begin doing a weekly video podcast. With the help of my great friend Jeff Rice, who is an excellent videographer an lifelong sportsman, we began doing the segments and today our little show receives between 6,000 and 11,000 views each week.
Yep, folks, we sportsmen are living in the age of enlighten thanks in large part to the internet. There was a time when if ole Dad or Grandpa wasn’t skilled in a particular outdoor endeavor, a youngster would be challenged to learn but no longer. All that’s required to get the learning process started is a quick “search.” But not to worry, there will always be room for those of us that remember the pre computer days. But thank goodness if we can’t figure something out, we have learned how to GOOGLE!
Contact outdoors writer Luke Clayton via his radio web site www.catfishradio.org.