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Thursday Quickies

November 13, 2014

Once again, I find myself required to work in order to earn my paycheck, so there’s just not much time or focus for a post today, so here are a couple of quick notes.

Blog Roll Additions

I don’t know if anyone pays attention to blog rolls or link lists anymore, but if you do, you may have noticed a couple of additions to mine.

My friend, Dave Campbell is re-entering the world of online publishing with his Dave Campbell Outdoors blog.  I’ll be right up front and tell you that Dave makes no bones about his political and social points of view, and they’re not for the weak of heart.  But I share his link, not for the politics, but for the quality writing and his knowledge of guns and ammo.  As the founding editor of the NRA Shooting Illustrated publication, he’s been around the block.  What he doesn’t know, his friends will certainly fill in… and some lively discussions are likely to ensue.  If I know Dave, the blog won’t just be gun talk, though.  Dave still has a great love of hunting and hunting dogs, so I expect we’ll see a good mix of content.  But it’s his site, not mine… so don’t hold me to account.  Check it out for yourself, and make up your own mind.

Another voice that I, personally, am happy to see returning to the blogosphere is Jim Zumbo.  I’ve been reading Mr. Zumbo’s articles since I was just a kid, snatching my dad’s Outdoor Life magazine right out of the mailbox every month.  I can’t quote his words or anything like that, but to me (and to a lot of folks) he represents a time when the hook-n-bullet magazines were actually worth sitting down to read.  And by this, I mean sitting down in a comfy chair, or on the couch and really reading some real writing… not sitting on the toilet to while away a few minutes.  (An irony, perhaps, because nowadays I can knock out everything that’s worth reading in an edition of Outdoor Life or Field and Stream in a single visit to the toilet… and still have time left to daydream.  For the first time in over 25 years, I’m actually thinking about letting my subscription to Outdoor Life lapse… it’s just become that worthless.).

Of course, most folks today know Mr. Zumbo’s name from the events of February, 2007.  In his usual fashion, with blunt and subjective language, Zumbo derided the “Assault Rifle” on his blog; and in no uncertain terms, declared these guns unfit for the field, and even went so far as to call them “terrorist rifles”.  It was an ill-considered post for many reasons, but the fallout was unexpected and unprecedented.  Within 36 hours of the post hitting the Web, calls to his sponsors from “concerned” and zealous gun rights supporters resulted in the loss of sponsorship.  His blog (under the Outdoor Life banner) was shut down and his name was removed from the magazine’s mast head.  He also lost his television show, disappeared from both print and online media, and for a (fortunately) brief period, appeared to become a pariah in the industry.  That all passed, eventually, and Zumbo has regained some of his previous momentum.  As he says on his initial blog post, “that was then, and this is now.”  I’m glad to see him back at it, and hope all the foolishness hasn’t blunted his approach to writing about guns, hunting, and the outdoors.

Blogging Peeves

I’m seeing a trend, or the resurgence of a trend on the blogs I visit these days.  I don’t know how many of the bloggers I link to still visit the Hog Blog, and this isn’t intended as a personal criticism to any of them, but here goes.

More and more blogs are requiring some version of registration in order to comment on their posts.  This means that, before you can post a comment, whether just to give kudos for a good piece, or to join a conversation, you have to be registered with the site or some registration engine, like Google.  Once your information is stored, you can then access the comment functions by entering a password.

I understand the rationale… that this will help to reduce the number of SPAM posts and maybe encourage some level of accountability for the comments.  I haven’t done recent research, but I also suspect that having registered commenters is like having subscribers, in that it makes your site more appetizing to potential advertisers and sponsors.  So there may seem to be a good reason, in the minds of the blog owners.  Anything to bring in more money, right?  Who wants to do this stuff for free (besides me, and a bunch of other bloggers I know)?

But as a reader/visitor to many of these blogs, the need to register and to enter a password simply to type in a few words of feedback is asking too much.  There are millions of other blogs out there, and with social media sites like Facebook, it’s a whole lot easier just to get some instant gratification elsewhere instead of taking the extra effort to create a profile, remember yet another password, and then log in.  That’s just a pain in the ass, really, and an unnecessary one at that.

Is that really the experience you want your readers to have?  Is it worth the tradeoff in readership/interaction?  How many bloggers out there really have the kind of traffic in the comments section that would justify adding that layer of complexity?  And maybe, if you have this registration in place and you’re not seeing huge traffic in the comments section… well, maybe that registration is part of the reason.  Like any other software application, you’ve got to make it as easy as possible for your users to interact with the program.

The real power of blogging, in my opinion at least (and it’s not a unique opinion), is the ability for your readers to interact with you and with each other.  A successful blog is one that creates an active community of users.  That’s why it’s called “social media.”

So why not dispense with that registration foolishness?  Turn it off, install one of the reasonably decent SPAM blockers, and call it good.  Your readers will thank you.

It Was Only A Matter Of Time

I’m going to close with a product release I just received in my email.  This is one of those ideas that I, and I bet many of my other waterfowling friends have bounced around from time to time.  The waterfowler’s dry suit!

PredatorGear3NEW ORLEANS, LA – Predator Gear has launched the first and only drysuit made specifically for hunting. Its revolutionary design uses a neoprene neck seal, latex wrist seals and completely waterproof zippers to keep you dry and in the field longer.

The one-piece Predator Gear Drysuit is designed to increase comfort and safety for hunters who venture out in the most challenging conditions. Instead of needing breathable waders that leave you wishing for better fitting boots and a waterproof jacket for warmth and protection up top, the Predator Gear Drysuit solves both needs in one product. Unlike waders, you remain agile even while walking in soft mud. Since the suit won’t fill with water like waders. you are safe even if you end up swimming.

“Predator Gear is proud to be partnering with Mossy Oak,” said John Loe, Founder and CEO of Predator Gear. “The combination of either Mossy Oak’s Shadow Grass Blades® or Break-Up Infinity® and Predator Gear’s revolutionary design will give dedicated hunters the ultimate advantage. After years of dissatisfaction with waders you can’t walk in, jackets that leak and gear that isn’t as serious as we are, we’d had enough. So we invented the world’s first drysuit for hunting. The Predator Gear Drysuit is the solution for hunters who will stop at nothing to reach the birds.”

The Predator Gear Drysuit is for any hunting that involves small boats, open water, bitter cold or walking extended distances. Drysuits, when properly worn and maintained, can make hunting in tough conditions safer. While waders can fill with water leading to hypothermia and drowning, a Predator Gear Drysuit keeps water out making it safer and warmer.

The Predator Gear Drysuit is made of a 4-layer waterproof, breathable polyester laminate. It is available in sizes medium to extra large. For more information or to purchase, visit www.predatorgear.com. Be sure to follow on Twitter @Predatorgear and Facebook.

Predator Gear is an official licensee of Haas Outdoors Inc. Haas Outdoors, headquartered in West Point, MS, was established in 1986 and is home of Mossy Oak (www.mossyoak.com). Mossy Oak specializes in developing and marketing modern camouflage designs for hunters and outdoorsmen. Mossy Oak patterns can be found on a multitude of products worldwide. Haas Outdoors Inc. is the outdoor industry leader in modern camouflage design, international licensing and marketing. Haas Outdoors Inc. markets its services and products under widely recognized brands including: Mossy Oak, BioLogic, Mossy Oak Productions, MOOSE Media, Nativ Nurseries, GameKeepers and Mossy Oak Properties.

Seriously, it’s basically neck-to-toe waders!  I can’t count the times I wished I had something like this hunting the refuges in California, or the salt marshes in NC where the ducks always stay out there just out of range of the nearest good cover.  You know, if you could just slip out there and sit in water up to your neck, you could get those elusive shots.  Plus, you can always use them to go do a little spearfishing if the birds aren’t flying!

Hog Blog Spotlight – The Mallard of Discontent

January 30, 2014

The Mallard of DiscontentThis may or may not become a standard Thursday thing, but here’s another look at one of the blogs I enjoy… Chad Love’s The Mallard of Discontent.

Maybe you’ll see a trend here, but Chad’s blog is another example of blogging for the joy of writing.  It’s not the typical hook-n-bullet stuff (not that there’s anything wrong with that).  In fact, it’s often not typical of anything.  I’m pretty sure that’s why I like it.

Chad is a talented writer with an interesting perspective.  There’s cynicism laced with common sense, spiced with humor and a little environmentalism… all nestled alongside some good, solid outdoors writing.  It is not without reason that his blog banner includes the cover of Edward Abbey’s Vox Clamantis in Deserto.

As a hunter, Chad’s tastes appear to run a bit more to the birds than my own, but that doesn’t diminish my appreciation of his work.  It’s worth note that many of the finest outdoor writers (from a literary point of view) were bird hunters… and in Chad’s writing I sometimes get a whiff of the legacy of writers like Nash Buckingham and Ernest Hemingway.  Not that Chad is the current incarnation of these greats (I wouldn’t want to swell his head), but he’s definitely a reflection of a style and period when the story was really a story, and not merely an extended paean to the highest paying advertisers.

Anyway, if you’ve never visited his site, you ought to drop by.

Hog Blog Spotlight – The Deer Camp Blog

January 23, 2014

For any of you who’ve been around the Hog Blog for a while, you’ll notice that my blog roll isn’t very dynamic.  I’ve found a handful of sites that I enjoy, and haven’t done a lot of exploring to find new ones lately.  Part of that is due to other social media, like Facebook, that has really buffered the activity on blogs.  Folks seem to prefer that instantaneous interaction and short-attention-span content over surfing through the blogosphere and reading more long-form writing.

I’m treading water here, and trying hard not to sink into that warm and inviting blue hole.  I still prefer reading a thoughtful, coherent (and comprehensive) post over the rehashed, viral content that continually cycles around Facebook.  But it’s so damned convenient.  Why go clicking through URLs, especially when that effort so often results in sites that haven’t been updated?  It’s so much simpler to have it fed to me, right from my “friends” or their acquaintances.  Fortunately, several of my favorite bloggers are now linked to Facebook, so their updates pop up in my “feed”.  One stop shopping… more or less…

So maybe you guys aren’t clicking through the blog rolls these days either.  Who has time, right?  With that in mind, I thought it well past time that I start to highlight some of the great stuff that’s out there on my own list… not because it’s my list, mind you, but because there is some really solid and original content.

Spotlight on the Deer Camp BlogLike my friend, Rex, over at the Deer Camp Blog.

I discovered Rex’s blog right after I first started the original Hog Blog.  Like a good neighbor, he rushed in to welcome me to the blogosphere, and we’ve stayed in intermittent contact ever since.  I even, finally, got the opportunity to head up to his Mississippi hunting camp and spend a bit of time in the field with him.  But that’s not the main reason I wanted to shine the light on Rex.

There are a lot of hunting and outdoors oriented blogs out there these days, and they run the gamut from original and compelling content, to the highly technical, to the blase and mechanical repetition of news articles and press releases.  There are blogs that obviously exist for no purpose other than to draw in advertising revenue, others that take themselves a little too seriously, and that handful that are there for the sake of an outlet to communicate and have fun.

The 300 lb. deer.

Rex definitely falls into the “original and compelling” category, and it’s pretty clear that his primary raison d’etre is just to have fun.  His content runs a gamut of tall tales, hunting stories, old-fashioned ghost stories, and sometimes just family and small-town news.  There is no pretension here, and I find that refreshing.  Many of the tales and reports are deeply interlaced with inside jokes for friends and family, but even then he tells them in an inviting voice.  It makes you want to be part of the gang… a member of deer camp… with your own, special nickname and a backstory that only the creative mind of Rex could concoct.

Sure, Rex’s consistency, like my own, isn’t entirely reliable.  He may go a day or a week between posts, and you never know what he’s going to write about next.  I’ll be honest too, and tell you that some of the posts are more fun than others.  But I keep coming back to see what he’ll come up with next… and I bet you will too.

So check him out, and tell him that Hog Guy sent you.

 

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