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Free How To Be An Outdoor Communicator Seminar at the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center on March 11, 2014

Charlie Elliott, friend, mentor, writer, conservationist  and turkey hunter.
Charlie Elliott, friend, mentor, writer, conservationist and turkey hunter.


The Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center was founded to honor the long-time writer, conservationist and Georgia game official Charlie Elliott. Constructed before he died in 2000, the center contains a replication of his writing office and many of his books, trophies and personal effects. Many of these items were used in his Outdoor Life articles and in the numerous books that he wrote or edited. This center is unusual in that it was built before the author died, and he had the opportunity  to record comments about his hunts and the part that these objects played in them. These recorded segments are activated by pushing buttons in front of the exhibits that highlight objects and initiate the recordings.

Charlie was also the mentor for many outdoor writers, including myself. I had the opportunity to interview him at his home and at the nursing home before he died. This seminar is designed to pass on some of this mentoring function to a new generation of would-be outdoor communicators and update it to modern times. Up to the time that he died, Charlie was still pounding out copy on a typewriter. When he started writing, writers were only responsible for the written text of a story.  Somewhat later, writers also had to supply their own photography. Nowadays, not only must outdoor communicators be able to furnish written materials but are they are often also expected to supply complete high-quality photo spreads, videos and sometimes even TV-quality recordings of their experiences.  To sell in today’s market not only does the new writer have to be able to consistently supply fresh story material and photos, but there are also varying requirements for supporting materials that must fit pre-determined editorial calendars.

An example of this new kind of content is a turkey hunting video about using turkey decoys that I filmed during a quota hunt at the Clybel WMA  which surrounds the Wildlife Center.  The WMA also offers deer and small-game hunting.

Opportunities that Charlie did not have that are available to present writers are low-cost blogs, videos and E-books which enable modern writers to test market areas, become their own brand, accumulate a following and partly, or largely,  work independently of commercial book and magazine publishers.  These are some of the possibilities that will be discussed in the seminar. I will be assisted by Bob Borgwat who will present additional materials on the editorial side of magazine publication. Borgwat  has been associated with several magazines for the past 25 years and is currently the acting editor for  hunting and fishing publications in Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee, West Virginia and Mississippi.

The following is a press release about the event which may be distributed to any person, publication, school or university department that might be interested.

Sandersville, Ga. A free all-day seminar, “Becoming an outdoor communicator,” will be held at the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center on March 11, 2013. Hosted by Georgia author Wm. Hovey Smith, the potential for selling traditional outdoor-related materials to newspapers, magazines, radio, video, and TV markets will be discussed in addition to emerging opportunities in social media including blogs, YouTube, Flickr, Pinterest,  E-book publication, personal appearances and stand-up comedy.

Smith sold his first magazine articles in the 1970s and has published 15 books, 9 E-books, 300 YouTube videos, made many TV appearances, produced the “Hovey’s Outdoor Adventures” podcast radio show, and thousands of newspaper, magazine and outdoor-blog articles. He is now the Corresponding Editor for the Gun Digest Annual covering blackpowder guns and regularly appeared on the “Welcome To Our North” TV program.

His hunting adventures have taken him all over North America and trips to Europe and Africa. His books include Backyard Deer Hunting: Converting deer to dinner for pennies per pound, Crossbow Hunting, Practical Bowfishing and a new 8-book E-book series on muzzleloading guns.

The Seminar will begin at 10:00 AM at the Discovery Center at the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center. A wildlife cooking demonstration will be held at noon. Indoor events will resume at 1:00 PM with the formal presentations concluding at 4:00 PM. Informal discussions with Smith and other outdoor writers and videographers will follow at the campfire. The Center also has 27 motel-style rooms for overnight guests which may be reserved by calling (770) 784-3152.

To sign up for the seminar and receive an advance copy of the handout materials, send your request to

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YouTube Videos Reach the 1,000,000 View and Blog the 500,000 View Thresholds

This was the most recently posted video when the 1,000,000 viewer threshold was passed.

While it is possible for a cat or celeb video to bring in 1,000,000 views overnight, outdoor content videos do not do nearly so well because they are intended for  a relatively small part of the U.S. market. Active hunters are only about 7 % of the U.S. population, although this number is differently reported by various organizations. Working this market segment, it has taken about 1.5 years for my 299 videos to reach the 1,000,000 view threshold. The comparison between the videos and blogs reinforce that the U.S outdoor market is becoming more visually oriented, particularly so far as Social Media is concerned. Although there are about the same number of entries, this blog has had about 500,000 views over about 2 years – roughly half of the YouTube views and it took a longer time to achieve them.

For the younger segment of the population, YouTube videos are becoming a favored search engine. Not only do the searchers want the information, they want to see it and have it told to them, rather than having to read it. Blogs do have a considerable advantage in that text passages may be printed out, material can be covered more completely in a blog and it is logical to link blog, video, book and radio together. This approach allows the user to get the author’s information in visual, print or audio form in whatever depth he desires.

In comparing blogs and video outreach, YouTubes have the advantage if generally costing little or nothing to produce or maintain, may be replaced at any time, have no recurrent costs, are available for an indefinitely long period and return a small amount of money as ad revenue. My blog, although one of the highest rated WordPress Blogs, has not attracted the 500 views a day which is the apparent threshold value to garner advertising revenue from Google-placed ads. Obviously, I need to expand my presence in this area by producing more blog entries. Even with Google ad revenue derived from both sources, it is obvious that this income of some few thousands of dollars a year will not be sufficient to support a writer.

For those in the outdoor market, blogging and video production are best viewed as methods of advertising a paying product or service. YouTube videos have allowed me to place my book ads in front of 1,000,000 people at little costs, cost me nothing to maintain and they will continue to be seen and bring in ad revenue for decades. This is the case of, “Write, or produce, it once and get paid for it often.” While this approach of being simultaneously active in the print, radio and video/TV markets is not suitable for most writers or sustainable for any writer for very long (including me). However, using the YouTube video component along with one or two other outdoor activities is an effective and low-cost way of attracting potential paying consumers.

On March 11, 2014, I will be presenting a free all-day seminar on Becoming an Outdoor Communicator at the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center which is located near Mansfield,
Georgia. During this event I will outline the outdoor communication possibilities in the print, audio, video/TV and personal appearances markets with some practical information about potential income possibilities. Topics will include newspaper writing, book writing, E-book publication, radio production, photography, video production and stand-up outdoor comedy as income-producing possibilities.  There will be a pre-seminar E-mailing of the course outline. To receive it request a copy at:

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Fire Control for Rural Clean-Ups After Ice Storms and Other Weather Events

Lawnmower is used to drag a cart of small broken limbs and tow a group of fallen pine limbs to the burn piles.
Lawnmower is used to drag a cart of small broken limbs and tow a group of fallen pine limbs to the burn piles.

Rural residents who do not have access to curb-side pick-up of limbs downed by storm events are sometimes faced with the problem of disposing of a ton or more of broken limbs and downed trees. By using two small-diameter burn piles in the yard and mostly hand tools, it is possible to clean up this debris by yourself, save money and simultaneously obtain a large amount of productive physical exercise. I have, like most retirees, limited income and must do what yard work that I can by myself. The past 30 years have included several hurricanes and ice storms which provided large amounts of woody materials and ample opportunities to perfect my disposal techniques.

Fallen limbs under pine.
Fallen limbs under pine.
Significant factors to consider are what types of trees or need to be burned, the broken branches’ position on the ground or hung up in the trees, the wetness of the soils and the amount and directions of wind. With proper fire management some burning may be safely done under almost any conditions, but not everything can, or should be, burned every day. For example, on windy days leafy limbs that may have red-hot leaves carried aloft by the hot air rising from the fire that can set fire to other parts of your yard or nearby woodlands. However, the same conditions may be ideal for combusting green hardwood branches which have no leaves. Limbs from broad-leafed trees, like magnolia, should only be burned when conditions are wet. Assuming that the storm brought snow, ice or rain, these broad-leafed limbs are the first things to go on my burn pile. You can see a video of this progressive burning process at:

If you are a farmer, have a front-end bucket on your tractor and a nearby plowed field; you can scoop up everything, put it in a huge pile in the middle of the field and burn it all at one time when conditions are damp enough to insure that the fire cannot get away from you. My tractor is a Snapper lawnmower that I convert to a limb-pulling vehicle by removing the mower deck. The mower’s large-diameter wheels and comparatively light weight do much less damage to my lawn than my pick-up. Although, I use the pick-up and a heavy log chain to pull things that are too heavy for the lawnmower to manage. Chain saws are a necessary item for any rural landowner. I have several, but prefer to do much of my initial chopping with hand tools and pull the larger limbs to one place. Once I get the saw/s started, I cut through the entire pile at once. I also put the chain saw and related materials in a plastic cement-mixing tub and tow it around the edges of my lot to cut blown-over trees.

Cutting the side limbs off the branches will allow the size of the fire to be kept small and result in more efficient combustion.
Cutting the side limbs off the branches will allow the size of the fire to be kept small and result in more efficient combustion.

Recommended Progression of Work

1. While the storm is in progress move your vehicles, if you have not already, out from under trees and put them in the middle of open fields or your yard.
2. When the storm is abating, gather your tools, sharpen them and plan out what you are going to do.
3. Select an area for two burn piles about 20 yards apart. This is the site where everything will be towed. You do not want to have burn piles at different places in your yard because of the difficulty in keeping an eye on all of them at once. If the fire starts to catch in your lawn or elsewhere, you need to be ready to put it out immediately.
4. While conditions are still wet, rake up and carry anything near your burn piles to the piles and burn this up. The area near the piles needs to be kept as clean and leaf free as possible, including cleaning up around them after each day’s burning.
5. While the ground is still saturated, drag up by hand, if possible, any branches that have leaves on them.
6. Cut the branches into fairly straight lengths who that they will lie as flat as possible on the pile for better combustion efficiency. If necessary use paper and waste oil or gasoline to start the fires and began to build up a bed of coals.
7. Hauling to one pile and then the other keep both piles going until all of your leafy material is safely burned.
8. As the coals accumulate you can start to put limbs as large as 4-inches in diameter across the fire to start them burning.

Small branches periodically added to the piles will encourage more rapid combustion of green wood.
Small branches periodically added to the piles will encourage more rapid combustion of green wood.

9. When burning green, wet wood it may be necessary to put a cart-full of small dryer cuttings on the fires to keep them going. You may need to add a cart-full between every load of green wood or after every two or three loads.
10. About two hours before you are going to end your day, concentrate on fire management and cleaning up around your burn piles.
11. Allow the fire to burn down to coals and place some large leafless limbs on the fire to burn overnight.
12. Three times during the night check on the fire, and push the limbs closer to the middle of the bed of coals as they burn through.
13. The next morning resume your burning by placing more materials on your coals and “sweetening” the fire by adding a cart load of dryer materials to catch everything up.
14. As you drag up your larger limbs with your lawn tractor or pick up, tow your mortar tub behind it and fill it with smaller limbs and twigs from the site where you are working. This will provide more smaller material to put on the fire between the larger limbs and speed combustion.
15. As needed, sharpen your tools and chain saw blade. Cutting is much easier on green wood than dry wood. As a consequence, you want to cut as much green wood as you can.
16. Know your tools and how to use them. With hatchets and axes, cut away from you wherever possible. When chopping down, spread your legs so if the ax blade goes through the object that it is cutting it will go into the ground, rather than through a foot. God gave you five toes on each foot, and you very likely want to keep them.

At the end of the day you want your fire to be completely burned down and the area around it raked clean.
At the end of the day you want your fire to be completely burned down and the area around it raked clean.

Remember, these broken branches are not going anywhere, so there is no need to over extend your physical abilities by attempting to do everything during one day. Wear gloves, boots and glasses to protect your hands and other body parts. When you start to get tired, wind things up for the day. EXHAUSTED PEOPLE MAKE FOOLISH MISTAKES. Keep in mind what you are doing, and what a sudden gusts of wind might do to your fire. If you are going to let a portion of the fire burn overnight, make sure that there is absolutely no leafy material in the fire or around it. Then add your limbs and let them burn. Check on your fire several times during the night and shift the limbs around to make sure they completely burn by the next morning when you can resume the process.

It may be necessary for you to request a burn permit from the state forestry authority or other agency before lighting your fire. Work slowly and be safe. As is often said, “Fire is a good servant, but a bad master.”