Monday, September 24, 2018

Bird Hunting In A Digital World

A great day of Hun hunting with Dad and dogs. No questions please. 

It was before my time, but I am guessing old-school scribes like Ted Trueblood didn't receive snotty emails or scolding messages through social media.  If he wrote an article for Outdoor Life, it was probably months, maybe years before it was published and someone took the time to mail him a letter to a NY office building. Those days are dramatically different from today's instant gratification, immediate reporting, Instagram-Tweeting culture.

 I have often chided those folks that have to share a photo of every meal they eat outside of their home or the dudes from the gym announcing to the cyber world that they are at the gym. No days off bruh!  Well, many of us bird hunters are just as guilty. If you spend a little bit of time on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Snapchat, (Snap the kids like to say) you will see plenty of autobiographical updates from the field.  

First double on Huns!  Limited out in two hours!  Best dog work South Dakota has seen!  You get the idea.  I am guilty of certain facets of the above, hopefully not quite as vain. With more exposure and more followers/friends/fans, comes more compliments and more criticism.  If you continue to post tailgates full of chukars or sharptail, people want to know more.  And you can't blame them. 

Last season, I provided information to a "father-son, bucket-list, dream trip" request on where to find their first sharptail grouse in the Treasure State. When they (it ended up being father/son and two buddies of the father) struck out, they also lashed out.  At me. Turns out, they couldn't read maps and I didn't warn them that rain makes muddy roads.  Sorry, I guess.  More recently, I was asked about Montana prairie bird numbers and based on 20 years of records, I responded that this year's bird crop  was below average.  After I had posted a photo of a very modest day with the pup's bag of two sharptail and three Huns, the same individual felt I was being dishonest.  I was about to explain myself, describing the number of miles walked to see one flock of sharptail and two coveys of Huns, but then I said the heck with it.  I had grass to mow and a few birds to clean.  Very few. 

A recent post by a fellow blogger, remarked about the sudden increase in traffic in his blue grouse coverts.  But, as an advocate for his passion in print and photos, is he making his neck of the grouse woods more crowded? Don't we need to keep hunter numbers strong for the continued health of our sport? If social media promotes hunting in a favorable light to the next generation, then our intent is just. However, Not In My Back Yard is real and we are all guilty of wanting to share our passion, just not share our opening day pheasant slough or ruffed grouse grove.