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October 22, 2008

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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.


Tom Sorenson

Well written - I am in agreement that there are no secrets. If you hunt public ground, you are hunting with other hunters - no matter how guarded you are of your spot. If the place you hunt is easily accessible, odds are there are a lot of people that already know about it - if the place is not easily accessible, odds are good that not many more people are going to want to go through the effort and time and money to get there. My two cents.


Well Mr. Michigan man, the article about your "holy ground", that you seem to think belongs to you, though it is PUBLIC LAND, says that your little peninsula is lacking in commercial development. Be grateful for the business these hunters generate. And another thing, if you don't like seeing the public on public land, then buy your own property, until then shut your mouth. You are no more priveledged then the rest of us.


As available wild lands continue to disappear, I wonder how many of us would act the same way if "our" spot was being overrun with other hunters/fisherman.

I've lost plenty of spots over the years to ownership changes, development and leasing. And while I understand it's part of the deal, it still sucks!



Amen Brian. No one could ever hunt all of the ground, in that county, in their lifetime! Plus, I travel alot on business. It sure is nice to have restaurants, motels and other facilities available. These business owners depend on that spike during the hunting season. Besides, even if F&S kept the secret, you're no-good brother-in-law from Illinois wouldn't, and it would be common knowledge soon anyway.


Public land is public land.

If you don't like crowds, find public land with a difficult vertical rise to hunt (good for deer, maybe not so for birds), or some other feature that ensures only an in-shape person will take the trouble.

I can go all day in the big woods without ever seeing another soul.


My out-of-state hunting is limited to occassional incursions into Michigan from Ohio. We (my wallet and I) have always felt welcome. Oh - and the public land I shoot - it's a National Forest. According to my math, I have a 1/300,000,000th undivided ownership interest in that land, just like the local fellow.

Their restaurants and lodges are glad to see me come, and glad to see me go. Why? Because they know I will return and "spread the wealth around" - my way, not the government's way.

It's all true. Ya'll should tell the world about the hunting loophole that lets me hunt weeks before other guys!


As a long time hunter of national forest land I agree no matter how far you go someone else will eventually get there. I have walked miles from the truck and a great deal of elevation to only met another hunter. Since public land no matter how good is first come first serve and there are a lot of people who hate sitting hours in the dark all I can say is try to beat me to my spots. hahaha

Teak Phillips

Sometimes people forget that our job is to be useful. That often means publishing something some people don't want told. If we aren't telling people where to hunt and fish, we'll be out of work. Then nobody would know where to hunt or fish.

Almost every outdoors publication and television show publishes information about where to go and when, and Field and Stream is not the first to tell millions of readers that Iron County is great for grouse. Heck, a quick Google search will tell you that. My guess is that in his lifetime, this angry reader has even learned of a new spot or two from F&S or another publication. If so, he'll have to live with his own hypocrisy.

Individuals get upset with publications all the time, usually because we didn't present something exactly the way they wanted it. But being a loyal reader of anything is kind of a love/hate thing.

Most readers come back - because we're useful.


being a new hunter and not having alot of people to go to for advice, your articles have become the hunting mentor ive never had. Keep up the good work!

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