Building Your Online Brand

If you’re on the NOWA mailing list you know that each month we ask what you’ve been up to for our member news.

This month Randy Bonner replied that he was holding a giveaway for Mack’s Lure products on Instagram. As the outdoor writing industry has been going thru many changes over the past decade, I was intrigued  what the benefits of this activity would be and emailed Randy, asking him to give me a call thinking that would be easier than emailing back and forth.

Randy replied “I’ll have to call you later, but I can write you from the turkey blind 🙂” and then sent me this:

In my opinion, especially with the way things are going with the print industry and the economy, we’re all in this together, and that goes for the advertisers, publishers, and writers, putting together content for readers that keeps them engaged. For now, a lot of the reaction I’ve gotten from this is coming from Washington, where people can’t fish, but it’s definitely on their minds. A giveaway is more than just stuff, it’s something that gets people excited about getting back on the water (or in the woods). It’s a thank you to Mack’s for sponsoring NOWA. It’s also a way for me, as an outdoor writer, to continue growing my (online) brand, when the inevitable transition of focus is going towards web traffic as readers lose interest in print subscriptions. I love contributing to both, and they both have their place. But building a web of online networking through publications, advertisers, writers, and readers is what seems to keep people engaged. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t like free stuff???

I emailed Randy a well deserved Thank You and soon got this reply “Had to cut it short because a pair of gobblers was closing in fast. Thanks for being my good luck charm!”

A big Thank You to Randy for the Instagram Tip and to Mack’s Lure!





NOWA President Dennis Clay Passes

It is with a heavy heart we announce the passing of our President and longtime NOWA member Dennis Clay after a battle with cancer.

Dennis helped our organization get through it’s darkest days, and his dedication to our organization and contributions as a professional outdoors writer, broadcaster and photographer will not be forgotten. Our prayers go out to Garnet Wilson and the rest of Dennis Clay’s family.

You Are A Genre Celebrity—Cash In On It

by Terry W. Sheely

Making a buck from outdoor communications is more than photos, microphones, TV slots, social media and writing contracts. It can also mean introducing outdoor enthusiasts to one-on-one adventures they would not otherwise experience.

Over the years, mostly out of the limelight, several NOWA members have organized and lead small groups of readers, listeners and viewers to unforgettable destinations; allowing credit-line followers to accompany them to guided fishing, hunting, hiking, rafting etc. As professional outdoor communicators we have the name recognition and industry contacts to make it happen, and as businesses we need to make a buck or two along the way.

The first realization, and for many of us the hardest part, is cashing in on our names. Like it or not, we in the outdoor media are genre celebrities of sort. All of us—whether we write a hunt/fish/‘shroom column for a 4K weekly, blog, or contribute to National Geographic. We have name recognition. We autograph our books, draw folks to our seminars, shake hands at outdoor expositions and are on first-name basis with renowned experts and famous faces. Hard as it is for many of us to accept, we have followers and some of those followers would like nothing better than an opportunity to share an outdoor experience with the celebrity you.

You won’t get rich, but we’re in a skinny business where every dollar counts. Most of us welcome any work that puts money in accounts receivable, small numbers in accounts payable and transform business expenses into tax deductions.

Public speaking is a common way to cash in on ‘celebrity’ status. If we pay attention.

Our businesses neighbor with countless organizations that covet ‘free’ speakers. Unless you represent a government agency, manufacturer, guide/lodge or benevolent organization my advice is to steer clear of such groups. Affiliated free-speakers get paid by their employers to speak. You should too. We are professionals and our hard-earned insights and expertise are marketable. If we give it away we undermine our own markets and reduce our value to zilch.

You may not make $500 a night speaking to upscale fly clubs (although some NOWA members have) but you’ll put dollars in the income and expenses-deductible columns.

The exception to my speak-not-for-free rule is self-promotion, and while it appears to be for free it’s really covert selling. Hype your book at the podium and sell autographed copies (not at the end of your talk when your audience is leaving, but during an intermission at a table in the center of the seating section).

Or describe, visually illustrate and promote an unforgettable adventure trip—a sign up to fish/hunt/whitewater with me in a place you’ll not forget trip. What we do and the places we go to make a living are once-in-a-lifetime epics for a lot of outdoor folks. Some will pay to go with you.

I’ll never forget the whispered comment of a guest I was hosting to a remote British Columbia lodge. We were coming in by helicopter, skating low level across mountains, over fjords, black bears and above towering white ocean rollers shattering on black reef rocks. Face glued to the Plexiglas, he muttered, almost reverently, “If I never catch a fish this trip will already be a success.”

The Reel News publisher/editor Jim Goerg and I teamed up more than a decade ago to organize and host trips using advertising and descriptive articles in The Reel News as our primary marketing platform.

We’ve taken guests to Alaska, British Columbia, Haida Gwaii (AKA Queen Charlotte Islands), and Baja, Mexico. Some trips were limited to a dozen guests at high-end lodges in remote fly-in wilderness areas. Others, like the one were’ putting the finishing touches to now, our 15th annual Baja Amigos and Heroes adventure to fish Mexico’s Sea of Cortez, will include upwards of 100 guests. This is the 15th year for this saltwater adventure and it grows every year.

Working with Van Wormer’s Hotel Palmas de Cortez in Los Barriles, takes a lot of the work out of it and we need that. We’re wordsmiths and celebrity hosts of sorts, not concierges or tour guides.

We produce the guests. Hotel management handles bookings, collects the money, assigns rooms, organizes fishing boats and shuttle services, arranges meet-greet-and-fiesta banquets, and provides everything our guests need. Jim and I host, spring for some ceviche, a few margaritas and a round of Pacificos, arrange discount group pricing for the guests, put together a couple of entertainment features—and fish-photograph-and take notes.

Fishing on these trips provides my writing/photo business with a wealth (hopeful pun intended) of magazine story materials (destination, how-to, adventure, travel), new faces to photograph, and the bonus of fresh fish for the home table. Jim gets an inside track on destination advertising and exciting fish stories for The Reel News—all just for being us.

Besides eventual revenue from magazine, book, photo, and video it’s also possible to build in commission percentages from guests’ bookings and from sponsorships sold to defray expenses and generate income.

A triple bang—celebrity host commissions, sponsorship revenue and stories to sell.

Travel, accommodations and guide services for ‘celebrity’ hosts are worked out with destination lodges that benefit from a week of solid, no effort, bookings with opportunities to woo repeat business. Our guests get a hosted adventure in a spectacular region that they’ll talk about for the rest of their lives. Sponsors benefit from extremely targeted marketing contacts, and Jim and I put numbers in income columns. Wins all around.

Outdoor communicators are small businesses run by genre celebrities. If you are a member of NOWA you are an outdoor media celebrity like it or not–may as well make some money from it.

Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota

from Peter Schroeder

Sunday, February 9, 2020

            For those who have missed my background, in 1980 I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow, which can be treated but not cured. It was then and is still considered today one of four terminal cancers. I contracted MM as a young engineering/physicist working amid ambient nuclear radiation in the Western Pacific Nuclear Atmospheric Test areas and underground nuclear-testing facilities at the Nevada Test Site. (For reference, all the nearby survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki contracted MM and related cancers, and most died within a year or two.) Forty years I have been in remission, one of the longest-known MM survivors, until I cracked my sternum last fall in a freak accident. This led to exams by my Seattle doctors as well as the Myeloma Center at UCSF and a month ago at Mayo. Now we’re back at Mayo for the recommended radiation treatment.

            After completing the first of three scheduled weeks at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, receiving five daily dosages of 3.5 Grays (350 Rads) each, I’m surprised (and delighted) I feel as healthy and fit as ever with no signs of fatigue, skin ablation, or other side effects. At each treatment. I’m bombarded by protons traveling 2/3rds the speed of light that are programmed to screech to a halt at the recently discovered tumor hiding behind my sternum where they dump their full energy (Bragg Peak). Unlike X-Rays, Cobalt rays, or other forms of radiation that continue through the body and wreak havoc on the heart or other organs, protons can be programmed to engage once they hit the cancerous mass.

            Risa and I are settled in a nice Airbnb near downtown Rochester and make daily visits throughout the clinic not only for daily radiation sessions but for appointments with doctors and specialists as well as lab work and other tests on my heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, and more. This is typical Mayo in not missing anything. Mayo lives up to its reputation as the premier medical center in the country with dozens of high-rise medical buildings and a handful of hospitals connected with each other and the entire downtown with a network of underground walking tunnels and skyways, all well illuminated and decorated with art, fabrics, and colorful painted walls. In addition to the medical facilities, the underground network holds restaurants, retail shops, hotels, and commercial facilities. Blizzards above, California weather below.

            The patients are equally intriguing. Heads of state often come, and I’ve seen people from the Middle East and Africa in their flowing robes and national dress. In the past week I have spoken with visitors from Kenya, Somalia, Qatar, and elsewhere who seek specialized medical attention. Often these national leaders are accompanied by heads of their government departments (possibly to assure there will be no coup in their absence) as well as numerous bodyguards. Many receive protection from the U.S. Secret Service including the Dalai Lama who checks in every two years for his physical. The Saudis in particular have embraced Mayo. The royal family flies directly to Rochester each fall in two 747s (they paid to have the runway extended) and  fill up several hotels they own. One plane is for the family and the other transports everything they buy on shopping excursions to the Mall of America in Minneapolis.

            Celebrities come here although they are often registered under false names and given private access to protect them from well-meaning crowds. Buildings are adorned with the names of the rich and famous with testaments how they or their loved ones have been treated. For example, the president of the U.A.E., Sheik Zayed bin Sultan donated $25 million to create a new cardiovascular center. The proton-beam radiation-therapy machine that treats me cost $220 million and was a gift from an Iowa businessman. U.S. News & World Report ranks Mayo Clinic as the #1 hospital overall and #1 in more specialties than any other hospital in the nation.

            Must say, I’m glad to be here.

Trail to The Dalles

The Dalles, Oregon, is situated in the north-central part of the state on the Columbia River, the nation’s second largest river, and is bordered by the Cascade Mountains to the West.

So with spring just around the corner and our conference looming big, I am again asking you to clean out that closet, garage, shop, etc. Those treasures you no longer need could be of interest to someone else. NOWA’s raffle and silent auction are always so much fun at the annual conference.  Fun because of these treasures you no longer want. Filling up the truck and bringing us those items you can donate will help us create a “fantastic collection.” (And, since you are bringing so many things, please make us a list–thanks.)

This is our major fundraiser, so come prepared to buy lots of tickets! (Cash or check only.)

Contact Jo Wilson, 503-390-4557 or

Texas Panhandle Pig Hunting



PANHANDLE PIGS by Bernard Brown

“You never know what lays over the next hill” may be a saying, but in hunting, it is a command to be obeyed.

Any rise, large or small, requires a get-off-and-probe-the-ground-ahead approach.

The Texas Panhandle, Mid-January, each  mesquite a skeleton of its summer self, a gentle breeze easing down from the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River; we had everything in our favor, and wanted to keep it that way!

KK and I eased over the crest, and there, 125 yards, grunting, pushing-just being pigs-were ten or so, sized from brown-black weaners to a two-hundred-pound white sow, milling undisturbed.

Being the guest shooter, and a meat hunter, I picked out a shoat and squeezed off a shot.  Bingo!

Free range, organic Meat!

A quick cleaning, up on the rack of the Polaris, and, thirty minutes after daylight, the 80 pound gilt was hanging on the gambrel.

With the liver on ice, carcass cooling in perfect weather, a celebratory Louisiana strong black coffee, (KK is a coon-ass Cajun) we were headed back out, hoping for more action!

More offensive action was slow coming! Though we had 10,000 acres to hunt, decent dirt roads to travel around and through the copper-red canyons, ambush spots aplenty, the pigs were winning this round, on defense.

We spotted more whitetail does and “el chaparral” (Wiley Coyotes’ nemesis) than pigs the rest of the day and next.

But, as in most ventures, patience, careful scouting, picking a good location and timing are synonymous with luck!


Patience, we are told, is a virtue: though not terribly virtuous, I had patiently planned to resume pig hunting for years.  Renewing a wonderful relationship born in West Texas some 20 years earlier, KK and I had managed to put together a mutually agreeable time to meet.

Timing is everything, we are told.

Our inaugural reunion, timed in early May last year, followed a winter of near record precipitation.  Tall, abundant and waving in the breeze, the wild array of “Only-In-Texas” spring flowers made pigs beyond hard to spot.   So hard to find in the brilliant blazes of dancing flowers, the soft green of freshly-leaved mesquite and fanning shadows that we killed one pig in five days of effort!  Timing is everything!

But the hunt is paramount to the kill, right?

KK, a practicing petroleum engineer, with a wall full of patents, approaches cooking as robustly as designing oil field tools, and hunting.

Hunting was good, killing was bad, but eating was great!   An epicure cook in camp means superb food!


Following two sunny, cool, pleasant but fruitless days, this afternoon’s sky of high windswept cirrus and cirrocumulus portended rain, and a much colder temperature!

Assuming the sounders of swine would be feeding ahead of the cold front, we bird-dogged likely spots for evidence.  One broad, brushy arroyo showed fresh tracks.  Setting up on an overlooking hill, we prepared to stand till dark.

We didn’t have to.  Within an hour, a passel of pigs came to the closest-thing-to-water and tender green grass that we, or they, could find.

The Nosler 28, on a Browning X Bolt Frame, barked again; another gilt down, headed for the camp gambrel.

Dark, boring in with the now-angry sky, herded us to the harbor of camp, KK’S simmering elk chili, and a cold Shiner.

The saying in Texas is “drought is busted by flood”.  Rain raged and the thermometer plunged.

We awoke to 20 degrees with the hanging pigs, and everything else, thoroughly iced!

After a lengthy session of tenderly ragging the windscreen of Mr. Ranger, – Ice, Plexiglas, and scrapers don’t mix-we were back at it.

Another day riding, hiking, and hunting produced a single sighting of one more roadrunner, and one wily coyote.

Setting up on a high spot in late afternoon, this time in a protective shelter, rewarded us with a fat whitetail doe to round out the larder of liver and meat!

The following, and final, morning had us scrambling to get the deer hided, quartered and into the ice chests with the hogs.

With camp policed and squared, we drove our separate ways; KK to a bit warmer part of Texas, me to the snow and cold I had escaped a week hence in Idaho.

A great reunion, productive and with a planned encore.  Meanwhile, good eating!

January 2020 NOWA Member News

From Randy Bonner: Birthday buck! Here’s a few numbers… today I’m 38 years old. I traveled over 3,500 miles to visit the area I grew up and relive some childhood memories for my birthday. On the way from the airport in Montgomery to the camp house in Coy, I saw 37 whitetail (my age that night). Over the course of the past 5 days, I’ve seen over 150 deer. I’ve passed up 8 bucks in the stand looking for a wall hanger, but couldn’t pass up this cull buck after seeing him for the 4th time. I’ve still got 2 spots left for bucks on a 10 day license, and have had the opportunity to take a doe each of those 10 days, not that I need that much venison, but I might take one more of either sex before I head back to Oregon to stock up on summer sausage. Last but not least, it’s also my blue heeler Wrangler’s birthday, who is now a teenager.

From Randy Bonner: Spent some time in the studio  with the legendary James “Big Daddy” Lawler recording an episode of Gettin’ Outdoors With BDL in the Grampian Hills just outside Camden, Alabama. (at 25:00) I talk about my Alabama roots, family, moving to Oregon, being a youth fishing and wilderness skills instructor, my writing career, NOWA , and a comparison of fish and wildlife species as well as fishing and hunting opportunities in the two regions. I really enjoyed speaking with BDL and I’m excited to share this interview with my followers.

From John Kruse: SHOT SHOW 2020; Several NOWA members were seen at the range and in the halls of the Sands Expo Center in Las Vegas, Nevada between January 20th and the 24th.  The reason?  They were all attending SHOT Show, the abbreviation for the Shooting Hunting Outdoor Trade Show put on every year by our supporting member, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF).  This is a huge event open only to members of the industry and the media that covers it.  SHOT Show this year included some 2600 exhibitors and 55,000 attendees from all over the world who were checking out what’s new for 2020 from the manufacturers and exhibitors present.  NOWA members present included Dennis Clay, Garnet Wilson, Gary Lewis, Troy Rodakowski, John Kruse, George Krumm and Bill Brassard, the Senior Communications Director for NSSF who we get to see at many of our annual conferences.   To find out more about SHOT Show go to

From Peter Schroeder: Risa & I just completed a great ski week in New Mexico—Santa Fe Ski Basin, Angel Fire, Sandia Peak. & Taos.

From Bob Schmidt of Macks Lures: Please keep in mind our monthly magazine the Mack Attack, there is lots of information in it each month which you can piggyback off of so to share with your angle.

Your contact for doing that would be Britton:

Sign up for the Mack Attack newsletter:

The Sports Shows: Many NOWA members are working the Pacific NW Sportsmen’s Shows. These shows are a great opportunity to network, catch up with old friends and make new ones.