All posts by martyhogan24

McKean Minute: When Digital Goes Outdoors

I was describing Powderhook to a friend the other day in one of the simplest ways I could. “It’s using technology to connect people who want to know more about hunting and fishing with those who want to share their experience and knowledge.”

I could tell I wasn’t getting through, so I tried again. “It’s a digital mentor in your pocket,” I said, patting my phone for emphasis.

That got him.

“I thought the whole idea of introducing people to the outdoors was to get them out to put down their phones and disconnect from technology.”

His statement hit home for me, because for years that’s precisely how I’ve imagined we would recruit a new generation of outdoorsfolks. We’d convince them that the wild world beyond their smartphones was somehow more real, tangible, authentic, and worth their attention than anything projected by the pixels of an aluminosilicate screen.

For the record, I still believe that with every fiber in my sunburned body, that the real world—made of mud, sunsets, poison ivy, October frosts, venison backstraps, and honking geese—is what connects us to our ancestors and to our neighborhoods, and by extension, to our neighbors. Figuring out the natural world over eons and generations is what evolved us into hunter-foragers, then farmers, and ultimately into Snapchatters.

The future of conservation as we know it depends on the goodwill of the individual sportsmen. No other approach can yield the kind of numbers we need.

As technology has come to dominate almost every aspect of our lives, it’s a natural impulse to think that it’s disconnected us from nature. In many ways, it has. We all have examples of people who mistook an Instagram sunset for the real thing.

But just as we’re not likely to replace our cars with carriages or our microwaves with hearth-fires, we’re unlikely to put our phones aside as we stalk a deer or hike a trail. Instead, the smartest hunter-gatherers among us have figured out ways to use technology to be more proficient outdoorsmen and women. They’re using digital maps to find their way in the woods and to fetch weather forecasts that will shape their day. They’re making campground reservations online. They’re using digital apps to identify the mushrooms that will make their day and the ones that will make them sick. And they’re using their phones to record their experiences to share with people who couldn’t join them.

For the record, I’m not a digital native. My best days in the field did not have an on/off switch, and I’m happiest with the wind in my face, not a phone in my hand.

But if we’re serious about introducing more people to the outdoors and the profoundly human experience of hunting, then we have to use whatever tools we can to build connections. For modern humans, that means harnessing the power of technology to bring people together. That’s what Powderhook intends to do, by connecting people who want to know with those who do. And when I tell my buddy that it’s a “mentor in his pocket,” what I mean is that if we’re smart about how we use technology, it can help us achieve something that humans have been doing for thousands of years: when we share our experiences, we make the world both bigger and smaller at the very same time.

McKean Minute: Get Outside This Interdependence Day

You read both parts of that sentence correctly. The first part is easy to understand. Get outside. Go fish. Go camp. Have a picnic. Lay on a blanket and look up at the clouds.

The second part takes a little ‘splaining.

It’s Independence Day, America’s 242nd birthday. The Fourth of July. A celebration of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and a statement to our British overlords that the American colonies would stand alone as 13 sovereign states.

But I’d argue that as much as the declaration asserts independence, it also makes a strong case for interdependence. Those 13 colonies had to stand together, to rely on each other and to present a unified front in the fight against the world’s reigning superpower that culminated in the creation of America.

I mention this because I think outdoor recreation—the kind that’s come to define how many of us Americans celebrate our national holiday—is equal parts independence and interdependence. As humans, we crave the freedom we get from the outdoors, the ability to explore, seek, and traverse a world unbound by walls or wifi. But think about the best days you’ve had outdoors. They were probably made even better by the company of someone – your kids, your buddy, your spouse, or your parents.

A buddy’s first time ever seeing an elk on a camping trip in Yellowstone.

Now think of how you got juiced about the outdoors in the first place. It was because someone, maybe your father or a sibling or a good friend, introduced you to the wide, wild world. That’s interdependence. Even those of us who find solace in the solitude of the outdoors started with a dependency, being shown places and skills by someone who knew more than we did.

When this interdependency works, it’s self-perpetuating—just as national independence is. The Americans who came before you have given you these great self-evident truths: “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

If your pursuit of happiness is being outdoors, then perpetuate that great American tradition by showing someone else how to fish, camp, picnic, and lay under the clouds.

POWDERHOOK RECEIVES INNOVATION IN TECHNOLOGY AWARD FROM HUNTER EDUCATORS

ANCHORAGE, AK – The International Hunter Education Association USA (IHEA-USA) has awarded its 2018 Innovations in Technology Award to Powderhook. The award was announced last week at the annual international hunter educators conference held in Anchorage, Alaska.

Powderhook is at the lead of a national effort to recruit, retain, and reactivate new hunters and recreational shooters. The company’s digital technology, including a mentoring app and website, are designed to leverage technology to connect new hunters and shooters seeking knowledge with experienced sportsmen and women who have it.


The IHEA’s award recognizes “any individual, group or member of industry that exhibited outstanding support of the IHEA-USA and its mission by developing better ways of delivery of the hunter education program through technological advances,” according to the association.

Megan Wisecup, IHEA-USA Awards Committee Member, noted that while her agency is the portal that educates beginning hunters, offers them certification, and moves them into the ranks of the hunting community, efforts of Powderhook are critical to give beginning hunters the resources and information so that they can be successful, which is a leading barometer of continued activity in the outdoors.

“Hunter education is a crucial step in becoming a hunter, and Powderhook is focusing on creating opportunities for next steps that aren’t currently in place,” says Wisecup. “If we cannot keep people engaged at their peak interest in hunting, then we are failing to be the support system these students need.”

Hunter education courses train and certify more than 670,000 students annually. The programs utilize 57,000 instructors, many of whom are volunteers, who teach hunting and shooting safety and responsibilities throughout the United States.


Eric Dinger, CEO of Powderhook, said that receiving the award from the hunter education community is confirmation of the power of mentoring, but also evidence of the strength of maintaining consistent messages and support at every stage of the development of a hunter.

“It’s crucial for us to have a strong partnership with IHEA-USA because it’s in their certification courses where many people discover their hunting passion,” says Dinger. “Receiving this award from such a prominent group in the outdoor space and being recognized for all the work our small staff has been able to accomplish is truly an honor.”

About IHEA-USA:
IHEA-USA is the professional hunter education association affiliated with the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the 50 state hunter education programs. Since 1949, almost 40 million students have completed hunter education courses that cover firearm safety, bowhunting, wildlife identification and management, field care of game, responsible hunting, and landowner relations. More information is available at ihea.com.

McKean Minute: The Evolution of the American Sportsman

Earlier this summer, I had the great honor to deliver remarks at the Jack O’Connor Dinner in Lewiston, Idaho. It’s an annual homage to the Outdoor Life writer and shooting editor who defined for a generation what it meant to be an American sportsman. In the years after World War II, O’Connor hunted wild sheep on distant mountains, worked with manufacturers to perfect their products and introduce them to eager consumers, and maintained a cool, almost academic, distance from most of his audience.

My presentation featured Outdoor Life covers from the magazine’s founding in 1898 up through O’Connor’s tenure into the 1970s. Those classic cover images are a pretty good reflection of the evolution of the American sportsman over the last century, starting with romantic paintings of what was, in the years before America’s conservation movement, a vanishing world—sad-eyed Native Americans hunting and gathering and big-game animals posed in nostalgic landscapes. In the 1920s, Outdoor Life covers depicted a brand-new vocation: the outdoor professional, usually a manly Western big-game guide wresting a living from a wild world.

During the Depression era up through the early 1950s, cover images featured workaday hunters, relatable characters actually having fun outdoors pursuing the fish and wildlife that conservationists of a generation earlier had gifted them. The classic Outdoor Life covers of O’Connor’s era featured conflict: snarling bears charging unprepared hunters, wilderness pack trains threading through intimidating landscapes, and sportsmen on the brink of some sort of tragedy.

As I built my presentation, I was reminded not only how American sportsmen have changed with the times, but also how we portray ourselves.

This identity is still evolving. Think back to just a decade ago, and all the hero photos you’ve seen (and probably taken yourself)—the grinning hunter holding a buck’s rack, or the angler holding his catch out as far as he can toward the camera to make the fish look even bigger. Those photos feature the animal, sure, but they’re really about the person, as if to say, “Look at me! I’m a bad-ass sportsman, getting it done!”

Those photos are not about the place where the action happened, or about the experience that culminated in success, or even about the critter. They’re ultimately about ego, and a demonstration of our own capabilities. If this sounds like I’m throwing shade on my fellow sportsmen, you should know that I have entire albums full of photos of me in this very pose, showing off my prowess and my bounty.

If you’re reading this, then you have undoubtedly heard the trends. America is losing hunters at an alarming pace. As a population, we are aging, male, and homogeneously white. More than 2 million hunters have faded away in the past 7 years. In Michigan alone, 20,000 hunters stop hunting every single year, and they’re not being replaced.

This is more than the loss of an American architype, the sort that’s featured on magazine covers. The attrition of hunters means reduced citizen funding for wildlife conservation, public-land management, and participation in wholesome, sustainable outdoor recreation.

Many of us are rising to the challenge to not only slow the decline of hunters but to build our ranks with a new and energetic population of American sportsmen and women. We are committed to introducing new people to our field sports, to the rich American traditions of hunting, managing our public’s wildlife resources, gathering our own wild food, and building character-defining relationships with wild places.

In the past few years, as I’ve awakened to this challenge, I’ve noticed the photos in my album have changed, too. They’re less about the trophy—the big rack and giant fish—and more about the people I’m with, the place where we’ve had success, and the animals that enrich our experiences and fill our freezers.

This is a hunting pic.

I want you to think back to a century of Outdoor Life covers. Our predecessors have gone through eras of depletion, restoration, conquest over nature, and me-first consumption. Now we have entered the give-back era of the American sportsman. Take someone new hunting. Introduce your passion and love of the outdoors to a neighbor. Lead a group to improve a local marsh. Share your gear and your wild bounty.

Picture yourself on a magazine cover, posing with someone who doesn’t look like you, happily sharing a memorable day outdoors. That’s the necessary next stage in the evolution of our collective identity. The perpetuation of an American icon—the citizen sportsman—depends entirely on you.

(About the author: Andrew McKean is the former editor-in-chief of Outdoor Life. A longtime outdoor communicator, he is now an independent journalist and director of Powderhook. He lives in eastern Montana.)

Why I Joined Powderhook

By Andrew McKean

Since I joined the Powderhook team a week ago, lots of friends and colleagues have asked me the same question: Why? What is an ink-stained wretch of an outdoor writer doing with a bunch of computer geeks half my age? And how can a high-tech start-up ever have the grit and blood to speak passionately to people who define themselves in terms of grit and blood?

The answer is both easy – the Powderhook team is small, scrappy, and composed entirely of avid hunters, anglers, and outdoors folks like me who are committed to welcoming more people to each of those activities – and it’s hard. Hard because media – communicating ideas and information that has defined my career – is so fractured and noisy these days that trying to build an audience and deliver information has never been more challenging.

This is the competitive edge of Powderhook: It’s not your typical media company, or content-delivery device.

It’s mainly an app – a digital community that you can engage with on your phone. If you do one thing today, download the Powderhook app and plug in to the community. The element of Powderhook that I’m most excited about is our digital mentoring program, which connects people who want to learn more about the outdoors with people who have a lifetime of knowledge to share. Want to know where to catch crappie this weekend? Ask the app. Someone (probably a local) will have an inside tip. Want to help someone trying to figure out whether to hunt deer with a 6.5 Creedmoor or a .338 Win. Mag.? Then communicate your perspective through the app. Want to find a place to camp next month? Ask the app.

Eric Dinger, Powderhook’s co-founder, created the brand out of his belief that everyone in the country should be able to enjoy a good day outdoors. All the tools in Powderhook’s kit exist to enable that goal, to inspire, educate, prepare, and celebrate current and future outdoorsmen. More specifically (and ambitiously), Powderhook aims to create 3 million hunters in the next 5 years; participants who buy guns and ammunition, purchase licenses, and fuel the economy that sustains the American system of citizen-sportsmen and public wildlife.

So far, so good. But where do I fit in?

The best way to answer that is to look back on my career. My first job out of college was editor of a little weekly newspaper in Wolf Point, Mont. I love newspapers for their ability to responsibly inform their communities, an obligation that I took seriously as a reporter and editor. As I climbed the ranks of journalism, I always considered my next post on the basis of nearby hunting and fishing opportunities. So it was probably natural that my next career was in magazines – specifically outdoors magazines.

For half a decade, I was the editor of Fishing & Hunting News, a mashup of newspaper and magazine. It was the hook-and-bullet bible for its subscribers. It came out every two weeks, told readers specifically where to fish and hunt anywhere and everywhere in the West. I’d probably still be its editor if it hadn’t gone out of business, a victim of the digital economy. Who needs a newsprint magazine when you can get that same information off the internet?

I moved on to a gig at Montana’s Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks, where part of my job was coordinating the hunter and bowhunter education program. I fell in love with the idea of minting new hunters through our classes, but I also surprised myself how much pride I took in being a public servant. Wearing FWP’s grizzly bear patch on my shoulder made me stand a little taller and has given me a lifetime of respect for the game wardens, wildlife biologists, and technicians who keep fish and wildlife in the field and available for our enjoyment.

Then it was back to magazines, this time at the only brand I ever wanted to work for: Outdoor Life. I started as Hunting Editor, but worked up to editor-in-chief, and in that gig oversaw a team of talented storytellers. That’s the magic of magazines, packaging cool stories in ways that transport readers – to the Pennsylvania whitetail woods, Colorado’s elk mountains, Montana’s trout streams, Africa’s lowveld. Great brands tell great stories across all sorts of campfires – the print of magazines, the screens of computers, the speaker of radios…

This is a long way of telling you that Powderhook is simply another way, a very modern way, to tell great and timeless stories. Some will be profiles of mentors who inspire. Some will be illustrated tutorials that show you how to do something cool and useful. Some will be come-along adventures that transport you outdoors, to the world of grit and blood.

Powderhook is a campfire. Come join us around it. Tell your story. Make a hunter.

ANDREW MCKEAN JOINS POWDERHOOK, WILL LEAD HUNTER-ENGAGEMENT EFFORTS

Former Outdoor Life editor-in-chief and longtime outdoor communicator Andrew McKean has joined Powderhook as its brand director.

McKean will primarily be responsible for content across Powderhook’s multiple digital platforms, its website, and its hunter-recruitment app, available at Google Play and the App Store. The app is designed to serve as a digital mentoring tool, connecting experienced hunters and their knowledge with beginning hunters looking for guidance.

Powderhook is at the forefront of the movement to recruit, retain, and reactivate hunters in America. The Lincoln-based company’s ambition, momentum, and potential to scale appeals to McKean, who has been a vocal advocate for lowering barriers to hunting participation.

“Connectivity is the key to creating and conserving hunters, which I’d argue is the most endangered population in America right now,” says McKean. “Powderhook’s ability to use technology to connect hunters with each other is a huge advantage in the effort to perpetuate the American tradition of citizen-hunters as the engine of wildlife management and conservation.

“I’m excited to take my background in creating and packaging content that speaks to a wide range of people, and use it to help ensure that hunters remain the best example of American values of self-reliance, respect for the land and its contents, sustainability, and community organizing. Look to Powderhook for a mix of stories of people who lead by example, but also informational and aspirational content to help beginning hunters, anglers, and people interested in the outdoors get on the right track.”

Powderhook exists to create and measure 3 million new hunters in the next 5 years by helping people, regardless of experience level, have a great day in the field. The company works with the nation’s leading hunting brands, organizations, and agencies to ensure that each can benefit from their role in increasing hunting participation.

“If a person alive today better personifies what Powderhook is about, I don’t know of them,” says Dinger. “Andrew’s clear-eyed storytelling talent has earned him a wide and trusting audience, but it’s his heart for our mission that truly sets him apart. Through our work together, we hope to welcome more people into the fight to ensure hunting thrives for generations to come.”

A Missouri native, McKean got his start in journalism as a newspaper reporter and editor across the West before freelancing for a number of national publications. He’s the former Rocky Mountain editor for Fishing & Hunting News and worked for Montana’s Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks before joining Outdoor Life as its hunting editor. He served as Outdoor Life’s editor-in-chief for 6 years before leaving earlier this year; he continues to serve as the magazine’s editor-at-large. McKean is a longtime hunter and bowhunter education instructor, past president of the Montana chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, is a member of the Arachnid Sportsmen’s Society, and serves on the national board of the Mule Deer Foundation. He lives in eastern Montana with his spouse and three teenaged children.

QDMA Releases Improved 2017 Deer Tracker App

ATHENS, GA (September 7, 2017) – The Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) is pleased to announce its newly improved 2017 Deer Tracker app. The app is available completely free of charge on both Android and Apple devices thanks to sponsorship by leading deer hunting brands, including Fusion Ammunition, Cabela’s, QDMA, and Powderhook.

Users of QDMA’s Deer Tracker app will find a variety of features focused on getting the information they need to have a better day in the field, including reports of deer activity in their area, public land maps, harvest reports, and more. Additionally, hunters can now estimate the score of deer in photos, receive push notifications for areas they might hunt, and view trends on an interactive heat map. Continue reading QDMA Releases Improved 2017 Deer Tracker App

Nerds and Retailers

CABELA’S PARTNERS WITH POWDERHOOK ON INNOVATIVE RETAIL EXPERIENCE

When nerds and retailers come together, customers win.

Two Nebraska-based outdoor companies have come together on an innovative in-store experience coined “Digital Trailheads,” a new tool designed to help customers find local resources and experience the outdoors like never before. Digital Trailheads feature intense 360-degree “virtual reality” content showcasing Cabela’s Ambassadors pushing products to their limit, along with maps and local resources designed to help customers find places to go. The project will be unveiled at the grand opening of Cabela’s El Paso, TX, and Albuquerque, NM store locations in mid-September.

Continue reading Nerds and Retailers

Improvise, Adapt & Overcome

By Clint Lindemann – www.safe-shoot.com

Bio:

I was born and raised on a farm in North Dakota. When I was 15 years old I was in a hunting accident that left me paralyzed. I am a C4-5 quadriplegic. I graduated from North Dakota State University in 2002. Started hunting again when I was 19. I have a crossbow mount and a rifle/shotgun mount that can be attached to my electric wheelchair. I also fish with an electric reel that can be mounted to my chair. I am president of my local wildlife club, active in summer baseball program and write as much as possible about my activities. Hoping some of my ideas can help others get out and enjoy the outdoors.

Blog:

Sad to say, in every hunting season, in every state there are always hunting accidents that involve shooting of another in a hunting party. I know this all too well, I am one of the statistics. On December 28, 1994 my life would change forever after my own hunting accident.

During Christmas break of that year we had wrestling practice once a day, usually in the mornings and after that a couple buddies and I would go trudging through the snow looking for deer with our bows.  Northeast of my hometown in the “Hartford Valley” there was always a big group of deer that wintered there.  We would spend hours pushing deer back and forth but no one ever got a real good shot at any deer. Continue reading Improvise, Adapt & Overcome

Pledge to take someone hunting, fishing or target shooting and you could win a NASCAR Trip or Ultimate Outdoor Experience

Join Richard Childress, honorary chair for National Hunting and Fishing Day, in creating the next generation of conservationists

National Hunting and Fishing Day (NHF Day), an annual celebration of hunters and anglers, features a new twist this year. Richard Childress, NASCAR legend and honorary chair for NHF Day, is asking hunters and anglers to participate in the new NHF Day Challenge by taking someone hunting, fishing or target shooting. By pledging to introduce someone to the outdoors between now and NHF Day on Saturday, Sept. 23, participants will be eligible to win a Richard Childress Racing VIP race weekend package or the Ultimate Outdoor Experience in America’s Conservation Capital from Big Cedar Lodge and Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium.

“If you are a sportsman, sportswoman or an angler, you can make a difference and support National Hunting and Fishing Day by becoming a mentor,” said Childress. “Mentoring is critical to ensure our outdoor tradition lives on through future generations. Make the commitment to take someone outdoors and show them why you value hunting, fishing and target shooting.”

For millions of Americans, time spent hunting and fishing are treasured moments. Hunting and fishing brings friends and family together and provides one of the most immersive outdoor experiences possible.

“Today fewer people are connecting with nature through hunting and fishing,” said Childress. “As outdoorsmen and women, we are one of the keys to reversing this trend. Help a friend, family member, neighbor or co-worker learn how to hunt, fish or shoot. Introducing someone to the joys of the outdoors not only enriches their life, it creates a future conservationist.”

Each new hunter and angler created helps fund conservation. Every time someone buys a firearm, ammunition, archery equipment or fishing tackle, they contribute to habitat conservation and science-based wildlife management through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration (WSFR) program. The WSFR is the cornerstone of fish and wildlife conservation in North America because it brings funding from the sporting arms, archery and fishing industries and sportsmen and women back to state wildlife management agencies. These monies, in addition to hunting and fishing license fees, are critical for conserving fish and wildlife across our nation.

Those who pledge to take someone hunting, target shooting or fishing will be entered for a chance to win two amazing prize packages. The first grand prize is two HOT passes to a future NASCAR race, which includes pit and garage passes, garage and team hauler tours, and an opportunity to meet team owner Richard Childress. The second grand prize package is a trip to America’s Conservation Capital: Missouri’s Ozark Mountains. A passion of Bass Pro Shops founder and Ozarks native Johnny Morris, the destination spans multiple properties and thousands of unspoiled acres, making it the ultimate destination for anyone who loves the outdoors. The package includes a two-night stay in a log cabin at Big Cedar Lodge, America’s premier wilderness resort, and nature-based excursions including guided bass fishing on 43,000-acre Table Rock Lake; Adventure Passes for the Lost Canyon Cave and Nature Trail and Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum at Top of the Rock; shotgun sports at Bass Pro Shops’ Outdoor Shooting Academy; and passes to Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium, the largest, most immersive wildlife attraction in the world, opening Sept, 21, 2017.

To get involved in the NHF Day Challenge, visit NHFDay.org or call 417 225-1162.