[color="#990000"]: Long Post.[/color]
I'm not writing this to anyone specifically, but to all in general. I think we need to be careful here to avoid throwing the baby out with the bathwater. And I'm writing this to clarify what I see as the unique niches NAW and D&DH occupy. Obviously these niches overlap, and the resulting competition can only make both magazines better.
We live in a day of polarization. Everything is left/right, good/bad, liberal/conservative, moral/immoral, pro/anti, angels/demons. Virtually every issue is painted as though the choice is between black and white, and it seems that the majority of people think they have to choose between opposites. That's the world we live in. What I don't understand is why anyone of us feels that he has to choose between D&DH and NAW, or paint one as angelic and the other as demonic. Both have their place, and both target the market differently.
The editorial content (as opposed to the advertising content) of NAW magazine clearly does not promote celebrity hunters and corporate interests. Let me be clear -- I'm talking about the NAW magazine, and not the NAW television shows or other NAW media.
The majority of the articles in NAW are by or about hunters and the big bucks they've shot. Most of these hunters are ordinary guys. Some are exceptionally good at harvesting whitetails, and it's not because of their ties to manufacturers or to the top brand names in the industry. I've looked through quite a number of issues and haven't yet found a single name of a celebrity hunter in the byline of an article, nor have I found a single buck that was killed on any kind of ranch, nor a single buck that was harvested thanks to some whiz-bang product. Few are the result of an outfitter hunt. All were free ranging animals taken in fair chase. Some of the hunters who've written for NAW are well-known to those of us who pay attention, but they're generally pretty low key they're not the ones who are making a living as pitchmen for the TV shows and the brand name products.
Everything I've said so far is factual and plain to anyone who observes. Now I'll turn to my opinion on the differences between the two magazines. Remember, I'm speaking here only about magazine content. D&DH was founded on the idea that we can all learn from one another by sharing the observations we make as stump sitters. (By the way, "Stump Sitters" is a term that may imply a passive approach to deer hunting which isn't what D&DH is about. It's about the relentless curiosity that serious deer hunters have.)
D&DH has a heavy emphasis on science-based research, and puts it on the shelf where everyday hunters can reach it. D&DH is analytical in the way it presents methods and strategies. D&DH has world-class photography that focuses on the habits and behavior of whitetails. D&DH addresses what ordinary hunters can do to create better habitat for whitetails. D&DH makes a conscious effort toward application -- how we can all become better deer hunters. And D&DH is often philosophical.
On the other hand, NAW is unashamedly a magazine that carries big buck stories. Mostly (as I've already said) the stories are about hunters like any one of us, who have applied certain methods and strategies to become successful. It's not "Five Secrets to
" or "Seven Strategies for
" Read the stories with an eye toward discovering what the hunter did that you can do, too. Most of the stories aren't just stories; they show real world application of the strategies that we read about over and over. If you read the stories with the question, "Why was this hunter successful?" you'll more often than not be able to pick up a strategy or method for your own toolbox, see how it was applied in a real-world situation, and apply it to your own hunting whether you're hunting a B&C buck or an average 3½ year old eight-pointer. And, by the way, NAW isn't all big buck stories. Here's a case in point: A Tale of Two Antlers
I'll use the photography in the magazines to illustrate the difference between the two magazines. The photos in NAW are not the world class photos we see in D&DH. Few of them are taken by professionals. They're often photos of finished mounts, and real-world field photos mostly taken by the hunters themselves with amateur photographic abilities. Nearly any one of us would be happy to have our photo in a magazine, and if someone criticized it for not being professional we'd rightfully feel that the criticism is unfair. It's not supposed to be professional photography.
Few of us will kill the bucks that are in NAW, but we can dream about it. We can enjoy the stories of any hunter who succeeds at harvesting the buck of his dreams.
The bottom line is that we can read both D&DH and NAW for entertainment and for information. Maybe D&DH is weighted more toward information, and maybe NAW is weighted more toward entertainment. That might be a reason to prefer one over the other, but I don't see that as a reason to criticize either one.
I should add that both NAW and D&DH advocate ethical hunting and fair chase, and neither would publish an article about a buck where there was a hint that it was taken through illegitimate means.
Let's not take Les Davenport's criticisms and overreach with them. The threat he is talking about has to do with the corporate takeover of the hunting industry. Every magazine is wrestling with the same issues of how to balance advertising content with editorial content, and it's getting more and more difficult. For at least a couple of reasons it may be harder harder for NAW: (1.)
it's a little fish in a big corporate pond so it includes some decision-makers who don't look through the eyes of the hunter, and (2.)
because the stories are about the elite bucks that most of us won't get so it lacks that community feel that is a hallmark of D&DH. Does that make it bad? No. What if NAW quit publishing and D&DH saw an opportunity to do a couple of special issues each year that follow the NAW model with stories about monster bucks taken by everyday hunters who applied the strategies we read about? If NAW disappears from the scene or abandons that niche, I think we'd all be glad for D&DH to fill that void as long as it didn't abandon what it does best.
Sorry for the super-long post, but I strongly believe that there are too many issues that divide us as hunters, from inline to primitive muzzleloaders, from longbows to compounds to crossbows, from archery to gun hunters, from pro scent lock to anti scent lock. The list is endless. We don't need the different approach magazines take to become an issue that divides hunters. But we do need to be alert to the corporate issues that invade the quiet, solitary world most of us deer hunters prefer to live in. We can help the magazines by placing our focus on being smart consumers.
I've tried to make this post worth at least
. Whether I've succeeded is up to you.