High Plains Outdoors: Be Careful Where You 'Chat' About The Outdoors

Aug 24, 2018

Like most folks from my generation, I was dragged kicking and screaming into the modern era of fast speed internet, phones that do way more than allowing me to hold a conversation. I can now actually request a ride by typing my destination on my phone and watch the device plot the route of my driver as he comes to get me!

We modern-day sportsmen/women are subjected to an information overload through ‘groups’ or what I refer to as chat rooms on the internet. Need to know something about the outdoors? Simply type the word GOOGLE into your browser and ask your question, you will instantly be deluged with a multitude of answers, some of which will invariably conflict. Or, seek out a particular ‘group’ that specializes in the topic of your interest.

There are all sorts of ‘groups’ on the internet for outdoor types where, once you are allowed to join, you will be deluged by opinions from the resident ‘experts.’ Sharing ideas and information can be fun and helpful, as long as everything is not taken as absolute fact without first doing a bit of old-fashioned research.

My take on many of these groups might seem a bit harsh because of my three decades as an outdoors writer, working as a guide both here in Texas and up in Colorado’s high country and dealing with scores of ‘sure nuff’ experts while on story assignments, guys and gals that have spent the time afield or on the water to thoroughly learn their particular outdoor activity.   

Today it seems, there is so much information available on the internet that everyone that can click the correct keys gets the illusion that even though they haven’t ‘been there and done that’, they are well informed on a particular subject. Many take in information they are subjected to as the absolute truth.  There is always more ways than one to accomplish any task and, more than one product to use to get it done. It’s human nature to have positive things to say about a product that works for you. I do that all the time with outdoor products I use that are supplied to me by sponsors. But before I tell others about any product from a bow to a scope used for night hunting, I actually put it to use and know it is a quality product. I simply state my experiences with said product and leave it at that. My mindset is that others will compare the gear I use and promote with the competition and ultimately use what works best for them.

I’ve made the mistake of joining a handful of these chat groups in the past, thinking that I might be in a position to be of help to some folks with less experience than myself but, I have recently sworn off most of them. I’ve found some to be dominated by resident ‘experts’ that push their agenda or way of doing things and instantly attempt to squash a view that is different from their own.  Just because an individual’s opinion on equipment or technique is right for him doesn’t necessarily dictate that it’s right for everyone. Once the ‘expert’ expresses his or her opinion, the lesser informed ‘members’ follow suit by accepting and instantly concurring with the opinions of the more vocal ‘expert’.

But, it’s possible to find groups that are helpful and informative, regardless of one’s level of expertise in a particular outdoor endeavor. No one knows it all and there are usually several ways to go about accomplishing an outdoor endeavor.

One group that I frequent from time to time deals with making sausage at home. For many years I’ve been an amateur sausage maker. Each year, I crank out a couple hundred pounds of sausages of all types. I also cure and smoke ham from wild hogs as well as domestic pork. I have often posted on this group my methods and I truly believe I’ve helped some beginners learn some of the basics to curing meats and making sausage.

I have also learned a great deal from experts that post on this ‘group’. It’s easy to decipher by their posts that they are more interested in helping than coming across as a “know it all”. They probably use state of the art sausage grinders and stuffers but don’t feel the need to make everyone think that their way or the equipment they use is the only way.  But, even on this group, I sometimes see comments posted by someone that is far more interested in coming across as an expert than giving information that actually helps others; I guess its human nature, at least the nature of some humans.

Back in ‘the day’ we that loved the outdoors gleaned our information from an experienced family member or friend. I was tutored in the outdoors from childhood and taught the ways of the woods and waters but I understand everyone, even in my era was not as fortunate.  Being an outdoors person today is far different than when I first began learning how to hunt and fish over a half-century ago. Back then, it was basically a shotgun, rifle, rod and reel and a handful of baits.

Things are way more complicated and technical now and I guess the internet is the primary resource for staying up with technology. I would advise everyone though, from the beginner to lifelong outdoor type, not to take everything concerning hunting and fishing they might be exposed to on the internet as fact. Personal experience is the best teacher and isn’t personal experience what spending time in the outdoors with family and friends all about?

DOVE HUNTING OPPORTUNITY: For many years, I have enjoyed hunting at Ranger Creek Ranch in Knox County near the community of Vera. Dove numbers are traditionally high in the area. Ranch owner Ranell Scott recently informed me she still has several openings. I plan to open the season here and I’d like you to join me. For more information, visit www.rangercreekranch.com and give Ranell a call.

Listen to ‘Outdoors with Luke Clayton and Friends’ on radio stations weekends on radio stations from Nebraska to Texas or anytime online at www.catfishradio.org.