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To Post or not to post

The Outdoors
Lead Summary
Scott Rall, outdoors columnist

There is nothing better than a great photo of an outdoor experience. As an old-school kind of guy, the new current trend of everything being digital makes my life a little harder.
I actually have a wall of fame in my garage. I have a collection of printed pictures from years of different experiences printed and stapled to this wall.
It seems today an actual print is kind of like a dinosaur. Trying to find one specific picture in a phone that has hundreds takes a good set of reader glasses and lots of time. By the time I find the photo I am looking for, the subject matter of the conversation has already changed about 65 different times.
What I try hard never to do is what I call meat pictures. You see them all the time, and they usually include some stockpile of some sort of animal or fish killed and stacked in a pile.  I have never found these to be to my liking.
Social media has transformed bragging and taken it to a new height. There just seem to be more and more folks who think that the only way they can feel good about their hunting and fishing talent is to post pictures of more game and fish than their counterparts could ever amass.
A group photo of each person holding one pheasant or one nice fish has been replaced with “Wow, we killed our limit for five days in a row” shots. This creates many behaviors I don’t like.
Focusing on the harvest and not on the experience gives those new to the sport the idea that success is only measured in total volume.
I was explaining to a new friend the other day that when I go fishing, my great day is a nice calm day on the water with the Twins playing on the radio in the background. I really don’t even like sports. It’s just the outdoor experience I strive for.
Videos of kill shots on a nice deer or 10 guns going off on a flock of geese is exciting for some but not necessary in my book.  Harvest is certainly part of the outdoor experience, but I don’t think it needs to be the centerpiece of your public broadcasting on social media.
Numbers at one time went along these lines. About 11 percent of the population is totally pro hunting and fishing. About 11 percent of the population is totally anti hunting and fishing, and the rest of the population is just neutral. Social media has the ability to reach many members of the large middle group. We as sportsmen and women need to act in a manner that allows that big group in the middle to stay there.
People who break game and fish laws are not sportsmen or sportswomen.  They are just poachers, plain and simple. When social media announces a hot bite on a local lake, there is that small percentage of the population that will go and take a limit, take them home, and then take another limit and do so over and over until the bite subsides. This instant information sharing allows those less than credible minority to capitalize on their bad behaviors.
In some cases, the social media craze can bring so many people to the same spot that as a result, the lake will experience so much harvest that it takes several years for that body of water to recover.
Now, I help people try to be successful at many outdoor activities. I share good public land spots for pheasants, for example. The difference is that scientifically/biologically you cannot overharvest roosters in a controlled season. Reducing rooster populations actually allows the remaining hens to enter the nesting season in better physical condition.
In the end the old saying, “Tell the truth but don’t always be telling it,” might just be the moral of my story today. Don’t judge your success based on the social media meat shots that are prevalent today. Did you have a quality outing? Did you clean game for the freezer? Would one more fish or game have made your day better?
Maybe it’s just because I am getting older, but bragging and boasting about the kill certainly has less appeal than it used to.
You can make your own decision, but before you make any post, ask yourself this question: Will this post advance conservation or motivate others to do good work? Then decide to hit post or delete. 
Scott Rall, Worthington, is a habitat conservationist, avid hunting and fishing enthusiast and is president of Nobles County Pheasants Forever. He can be reached at or on Twitter @habitat champion.

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