Seeing the Forest for the Trees

While conducting research on Twitter this week in regards to a story idea about the cooperation of conservation organizations towards a common goal, the focus on one article continued to resurface from multiple users.  The article, “Decline In Hunters Threatens How U.S. Pays For Conservation,” by Nathan Rott for National Public Radio, was actually the subject of a tweet from the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership I had retweeted and posted to my Facebook page a week earlier.  The compelling article gives a gloomy forecast for the future of hunter participation as the average hunter is aging to the point of retirement from the tradition with less interest from younger generations, and, because of that fact, details an even more troubling uncertainty for the future of conservation in this country.  However, what grabbed my attention this time around was the wide range of opinions I was finding from Twitter users as their tweeted lead argumentation into the link for the article.

I began to bookmark the tweets, and soon I was so intrigued by the arguments I found that I ran a search for links to the article and began to gather an even larger sample.  What I found presented a stunning array of ethos, pathos, and logos in the discourse.  Each of these rhetors provided their own set of suppositions and reasoning.  I didn’t look past their tweets into any specific responses – I didn’t have to – the tweets themselves provided the commentary on the subject of the article at the first level of interpretation and argumentation.  After reviewing and analyzing my sample, and taking another step back, I began to ask myself how all these opinions could possibly be digested.  This led me to relate this to the overwhelming amount of data thrust at us daily, not only through the genre of Twitter, but exponentially across all forms of media in this age of information overload.  Indeed, by the assemblage of this sample, one could gather an extensive interpretation of the original article without ever having to bother to click on the link to the original argument.  Therefore, I wondered if all the rhetors in my sample had actually taken the time to read the article, or if, in the interest of time, they had formulated their opinion based on their own set of suppositions and then tried to further their argument supposing their followers would do the same.

The rhetors who seemed the least argumentative as a whole were the news organizations, conservation organizations, and state agencies that seemed to exude the supposition that their followers were already painfully aware of the facts in the article, or they would just let the article speak for itself.  Other conservationists and journalists seemed to ask what the article was asking, or expand on the alternative funding methods suggested in the article.  Hunting and outdoors business oriented rhetors used it to either bolster their cause or to seemingly argue for support from other outdoors enthusiasts.  From there, specific agendas from common individual users flared out to sprawl over a diverse set of arguments.  This is where the analysis became almost baffling to me.  Here was a large set of first level interpretations of the article that now began to spew out like vomit hitting the floor, or, if you prefer, envision the spread of the mushroom cloud as it enters the upper reaches of the atmosphere.  The polarization of opinions seemed like a microcosm of the world we live in today.  Some chose thoughtfully to stipulate there own personal plea along the lines of the original rhetor’s argument.  Others chose to quote powerful statements from the original rhetor to reiterate the argument.  Others chose to relate details in the original argument to their own local or even international concerns.  Others chose to relate the facts of the article to their own personal agendas in extremely loose relationship to the original argument.  And still others appeared to gather the entire basis for their argument simply from the headline of the original rhetor’s article.

I felt compelled to gather them all in one place, and present them as a whole in a mosaic of opinions as inspired by the original argument for our dwindling support for the stewardship of wilderness.  Below you will find the large sample I collected.  In order to present a uniform sample that could be quickly distinguished by an identifying trait, I chose to only include tweets that used the lead image from the original article.  In order to attempt to maintain an objectively balanced presentation of the following gallery while attempting to present it in the most appealing display, it is set up as a random order tiled mosaic which will randomly bring different images of the tweets to the forefront each time the page is refreshed.  Therefore, I would encourage you to refresh the page several times in order to illuminate and gather the diverse range of opinions from the individual rhetors.

Why I Came Calling

Why I Came CallingSince the Outdoor Bloggers Summit has been kind enough to invite some traffic my way, I thought I would post an answer to Kristine’s question of why I have decided to support the OBS for all those who have the urge to pay a visit.

Originally, the LPRB was a class project born from a return to academia, but it has progressively become more than that.  I have been affiliated with the outdoors industry in one way or another for most of my life, most recently as an employee of the nation’s largest outdoors outfitting retailer where I worked in various locations across the country for nearly eight years.  When I decided to leave that life last August in order to pursue some loftier personal goals, I spent the Fall in a dream season of sorts – hunting or fishing the Fall away everyday.  Although, I had left the “business” of the outdoors behind, I was not ready to sever my ties with the outdoors community.  The LPRB has provided a way to continue to share my passions for the outdoors and redirect my life towards those personal goals I had set so long ago.

This class project has also expanded to include something I would not leave behind, my mentoring responsibilities as a hunter education instructor.  I have started the Hunter Education & Firearm Safety Training blog to enhance the experience of the students in my classes as well as provide a possible resource of information and enlightenment for the hunting and non-hunting communities alike.

I originally came calling upon the OBS, and many sites affiliated with it, in an effort to increase my outdoors resources on the web for my own personal use.  But now the OBS and its members and supporters have become a source for communication, exposure, and building relationships as well as shared information, knowledge and a channel for my voice to be heard by the individuals who share my passions for the outdoors and our outdoors heritage.

I hope the LPRB will continue to evolve into a site the OBS is proud to display on its blogroll.  I have many ideas to continue to improve the site, like a “lake of the week” feature I am hoping to implement with the coming open water fishing season, and I am also learning from all of the fantastically talented individuals I have come across since turning down this new path.

Thank you to Kristine, Othmar, and Tom, who have already stopped by to say hello or link the LPRB into their blogrolls and send traffic my way.  And welcome to those I have not met yet, I hope you enjoy the LPRB as much as I have enjoyed looking around your creations while I’m discovering great new places and friends everyday.

In Search Of….

So I was working into the wee hours the last couple nights trying to do something about my lack of satisfaction with my Newsgator RSS feeds.  I was able to find some great sites by outdoor writers and for outdoor writers, some of which I’ve linked to in the “While You’re On Your Way” blogroll to the lower right.  Some of the outstanding blogs by outdoor writers include:

There’s more down there.  I didn’t want to list them all here as that seems a little repetitive, but I did want to give you anti-scrollers something to salivate over.  The ones above are some of my favorites of the favorites.

I also came across some fantastic resources for outdoor news and outdoor writers:

Like I said, I found these just trying to improve the focus of my RSS feeds in order to accumulate news and perspective from various aspects of the outdoors community, but my research has also provided valuable information for another project I’m working on – a writing on the web presentation for my Freelance Writing class.

Check ’em out – should be some happy hunting!

Vigilant Crossing

Vigilant CrossingOn this beautiful winter day, I decided to take a hike into the deer woods.  I hadn’t been there to check things out since I hunted last, over a month ago.  This fall, loggers had been marking up the place getting prepared to harvest another section of acreage.  It was time to check on their progress.  The fresh dusting of snow would provide the opportunity to investigate any fresh tracks as well.  Plus, I still have a scouting camera and deer stands in place that needed to be checked.

I have about a mile hike until the last ridge above the swamp where my camera stands post at the beaver dam crossing.  With limited time to get in and get out, this would be my main objective today.  However, upon arrival at the trailhead, it was obvious that the loggers had begun their work.  The popples that once walled off the parking area from the county road, now lay stacked in piles ready for shipment to the paper mill.  I believe the rest of their work will be down the west trail, but I would be travelling the east trail today.  I will have to check the rest of their progress on another date.

Fresh deer tracks greeted me as I stepped foot out of my truck.  Two sets.  I followed their on and off trail meandering as I headed down the east trail.  Before long, they turned south along the major trail that runs along the north-south ridge.  As always, the north-south ridge deer trail entrance is being heavily used.  Another hundred yards east and my trail turns south as it heads for the swamp.  Another hundred yards and I encountered coyote tracks working against me along the trail.  A sign that the wolf trapping had probably seen some success this fall.  Wolves and coyotes do not exist well together.  A wolf will go out of its way to kill a coyote, and even break off from a hunt to do so.  The tracks entered the trail corridor from the west and broke off to the east; headed for the cedar swamp to the north, perhaps.  Further down the trail, there were rabbit tracks, grouse tracks, small rodent tracks of some sort, and more deer tracks, but I had to keep moving if I was going to make it to the scouting camera and back to town in time for class.

The boughs of the white pines in the depression below barbwire knob still held snow.  The sun hadn’t reached them yet.  There had been a lot of activity on the east-west deer trail on the ridge above the swamp, but very little at the beaver dam.  The scouting camera’s batteries were dead, but it didn’t look like it had missed much recently.  I replaced the batteries, changed the memory card, and reset the camera.  I had no idea, at the time, how many images the camera captured before the batteries succumb to the cold, but from the looks of things I may need to relocate it up the ridge.  But that would have to wait for another day because I needed to turn around and beat it on down the line to make it back for class in time.

Tonight I checked what the scouting camera had seen before the batteries gave out.  There were only four pictures: a spiker, a fork, a larger buck, and a doe all from December.  The doe gave the best pose early one evening in late December on a vigilant crossing.