Chad Love: Publishing Hot Spots

Here is an angry letter received by F&S Online Editor Nate Matthews

As you may know, hunters and fishermen hate a blabber mouth. Nothing is worse than somebody blabbing to all there friends and strangers about a good fishing/hunting spot. You may argue that out of state hunters bring in money, and that Field and Stream is merely trying to inform its readers. However your articles blabbing about wonderful grouse hunting in Iron county (Michigan), and deer hunting while walking miles of open land in the U.P. of Michigan have hit a nerve with many locals. I myself, along with a growing number of sportsmen and women have canceled our subscriptions to your magazine. You should stick to advice on gear and equipment, rather than telling the world of the last few remaining hot spots to hunt and fish. We are not a sparsely populated, ill informed back water. We have many well organized local sportsmen clubs. The word is out. Field and Stream is now the much hated blabber mouth NO ONE likes.

Let's face it, humans are bipedal magpies with opposable thumbs. We love to talk. It's who we are, literally. Our advanced form of spoken and symbolic communication is what sets us apart from other animals. But for hunters and anglers there's always been an uneasy balance between that need to communicate and the desire to keep "our" spots ours.

I can commiserate with the author of that letter. I live in the heart of the last and best remaining wild bobwhite quail habitat in the nation. I am also a public-land hunter, so I see first-hand the correlation between publicity and an increasing strain on the resource. On the other hand, I'm very aware that when I go on a hunt out-of-state or even in a different part of my home state, I'm suddenly on the other side of that issue. At some point we all become those despised out-of-staters.

So the question is: by publishing where-to stories are publications like F&S doing local hunters in those areas a disservice?

I don't think so and I'll tell you why: there are no secrets. Eventually everything, however obscure or out-of-the-way, gets discovered. And in the Internet Age that little truism rings double. As an example, I'm pretty sure there has never been in the entire history of hook-and-bullet publishing a story penned about the undiscovered duck hunting on a small local lake near me (a lake that shall remain nameless, BTW).

And yet, for the past four or five years at various times I've pulled into the parking area only to find that groups from Iowa, Arkansas, Texas and other states have beaten me there. All it took was a little Internet scouting on the duck hunting bulletin boards where some other local hunters posted reports and there they were.

I don't blame them. They're just after the same experience I am, so after I let my chessie pee on their tires I tell myself to get there earlier next time. That's just the way it is and the way it's going to be. Outhustle the next guy or take up golf.