Jim Braaten

Jim Braaten lives near Kenyon, Minn., and has been an avid outdoorsman for more than 35 years. He lives on the family farm that was first settled by his ancestors 152 years ago. He has been an outdoors writer and photographer, and he owns a business producing and marketing calendars.

Posts about Family Fun

Weekend events expose youths to outdoor fun

Posted by: Jim Braaten Updated: July 29, 2009 - 12:36 AM

Tri-State Outdoor Festival

Are you looking for some inexpensive fun for the entire family this coming weekend?   Consider attending the Tri-State Outdoor Festival being held in St. Charles, Minnesota—just a short two-hour drive southeast from the Twin Cities.

This second annual event is primarily for kids designed to introduce them to new outdoor activities.   Daily skill events include many hunting and fishing related games, such as: air rifle range, BB gun/slingshot shoot, skeet simulation, trout pond, rock climbing wall, fly-fishing obstacle course, kids archery shoot, tomahawk throw, plus much more.

While the festival emphasizes youth outdoor activities, there will also be over 100 vendor booths on hand promoting a wide array of hunting and fishing related items.   There’s even a 3D pop-up archery course for adults, so don’t leave home without your bow.   For more information: www.tri-stateoutdoorfestival.com or on Facebook.

DATES: July 31, Aug. 1&Aug. 2 (Friday thru Sunday)

TIME: 2pm – 8pm (Friday)
        10am – 8pm (Saturday)
        noon – 6pm (Sunday)

LOCATION: Winona County Fairgrounds (St. Charles, Minnesota)
                 (Click HERE for a map/directions)

COST: Free (Children 15 and younger)
          $8 (Individuals 16 and older)

Trailblazer Adventure Expo

This year Game Fair will play host to the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation’s youth learning program known as Trailblazer Adventure.   This national program expects thousands of Twin Cities’ area youth, along with their families, will participate in various outdoor skill challenges, such as: archery, shooting sports, game calling, and more.   Participants must go from stage to stage experiencing hands-on what makes each outdoor activity so much fun.   Upon conclusion of the challenge, all youths will be eligible for a prize drawing awarding outdoor equipment to several lucky kids.

Game Fair is celebrating its 28th year in 2009 having grown into the largest, pre-hunting, family participation event in the country.   With hundreds of exhibitors and dozens of seminar speakers, this event has become an annual tradition for many sporting families from throughout the Upper Midwest.   For more information: www.GameFair.com or on Facebook.

DATES: Aug. 7, Aug. 8&Aug. 9 (Friday thru Sunday)
           Aug. 14, Aug. 15 & Aug. 16 (Friday thru Sunday)

TIME: 9am – 6pm (Daily)

LOCATION: Armstrong Ranch Kennel (Anoka, Minnesota)
                 (Click HERE for a map/directions)

COST: Free (Children 6 and younger)
          $5 (Children over 6)
          $8 (Senior Citizens)
         $10 (Adults)
     (Click HERE for a printable discount coupon for admission)

So, why do we blog about the outdoors?

Posted by: Jim Braaten Updated: July 17, 2009 - 8:38 AM

Consider it akin to sitting around a crackling campfire with close friends after a long day of hunting.   Or perhaps it’s sitting around a kitchen table back at the cabin sharing stories after an action-packed day spent fishing.   No matter what the venue or occasion, sportsmen have long cherished the unique opportunity to simply unwind, relax and recount their outdoor adventures among special friends.

Indeed, blogging here at Club Outdoors is our digital equivalent to that time spent sitting either at the campfire or around the kitchen table.   Sure, everyone has a story to tell.   And while some individuals might occasionally boast a little about their success…we give them that opportunity because tomorrow night we secretly hold hope it will be our turn to describe the big one that didn’t get away.

Blogging about the outdoors has been one of my life passions during the past five years.   When I created www.SportsmansBlog.com it started off as fun way to journal about whatever topic was on my mind for that particular day.   Some days I felt quite opinionated about the outdoors.   Other days I might even have some outdoors-related news to share.   Most days, however, I just wanted to express myself in a way that connected with others who share a similar interest.   In the process, I’ve discovered many loyal blog readers through my personal blog from virtually all over the world.   Several have also become good Internet friends.

Blog readers need to understand that the communication process is a two-way street.   If someone makes an outrageous comment while sitting around the campfire, most times friends are quick to point out the ridiculousness of the statement.   Same should go for blogging.   On the other hand, if someone back at the cabin just offers up a great fishing tip that seemed to work for them, appreciative friends will let them know.   Again, same should go for blogging.

The point is when each of us Club Outdoors bloggers makes a post on a topic we encourage reader participation.   If you like what you’re reading…let us know.   If you disagree with a comment…let us know about that, too.   As long as your comments are thoughtfully crafted and considerate, your input can help generate lively discussion benefiting the blogger as well as other StarTribune.com readers.

During the upcoming months I hope you’ll take some time to better acquaint yourself with the entire Club Outdoors blogging community.   We’re a great bunch of folks sharing outdoor experiences from virtually throughout Minnesota and reaching into portions of Wisconsin.

Don’t forget it’s important for you, the reader, to understand you’re also part of this special blogging community.   Get to know us…but also let us get to know you.   Your feedback expressed by leaving a comment is the fuel that motivates us to continue this blogging effort and to further improve our skills as outdoor communicators.

Sure, sitting in front of a computer staring at the screen is not nearly as exciting as those moments spent at deer camp sitting around the campfire or up at the lake creating those fishing memories.   Nevertheless, through the Club Outdoors blogs it’s possible to still share some of that great outdoor camaraderie.   For me, that’s why I blog about the outdoors.

Make a commitment to take a kid fishing

Posted by: Jim Braaten Updated: June 6, 2009 - 6:54 PM

“If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there'd be a shortage of fishing poles.”  ~Doug Larson

How important is it to take children fishing?   Well, important enough that this weekend the Minnesota DNR will let you do it for free.   That’s right, adults can fish for free on all Minnesota waters if they are accompanied by a child under the age of 16 (check regulations for complete details).

Sure, that’s a nice incentive to get a kid outdoors and introduce them to the wonderful experience known as fishing, but honestly it usually takes an adult making a commitment of precious time to allow this to happen.   These days families seem to have busier schedules than perhaps they did three or four decades ago — that’s simply a fact of life.   Nevertheless, it’s crucial to make it a priority to introduce a child to the excitement of fishing.   Whether the child is your own, a neighbor’s or even a niece or nephew…if you know a child close to your life that has never baited a hook or perhaps removed a perch, make a resolution to yourself that during the summer of 2009 that statement will change.

When I think back to some of my earliest memories in life many seem to involve some aspect of fishing.   Moreover, my father died when I was only 10–years old and I can honestly say my fondest memories of him were the times we spent sitting on a river bank or in a boat fishing.   Come to think of it, those memories didn’t always involve catching fish…nope, instead they were created by simply sharing the experience together outdoors.

Sometimes it’s easy for us to forget that something as simple as spending an afternoon fishing with a child can be so critically important in their life.   Indeed, a child who develops an interest in fishing early in life will probably grow into an adult who better appreciates those pleasures throughout their lifetime.   On the other hand, a child who never gets the opportunity to fish as a youth will be more apt to grow into an adult wondering why fishing is such a great pastime enjoyed by so many of us.

Keep in mind, if someone took the time to introduce you to the outdoors you owe it to the next generation to share that same enthusiasm and knowledge.   Take a kid fishing…and pass it on. 

My top 10 Minnesota towns for sportsmen to live

Posted by: Jim Braaten Updated: May 27, 2009 - 6:16 PM
The June/July 2009 issue of Outdoor Life magazine featured a story on the 200 best towns in the U.S. for a sportsman to live.   This ranking was based on several different factors including: affordable housing, low unemployment, decent schools, as well as close proximity to great hunting and fishing opportunities.  There were only four states (Colorado, Montana, Idaho and Florida) that had more towns making the list than Minnesota.   Only Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, Massachusetts and West Virginia failed to make a showing with even a single mention on the list.

Here’s the breakdown of which Minnesota cities made the 2009 OL list (with the respective ranking out of 200 shown in parenthesis):
  • Rochester (9th)
  • Roseau (tied for 20th)
  • Bemidji (31st)
  • Red Wing (79th)
  • Duluth (92nd)
  • Alexandria (107th)
  • Marshall (167th)
Granted, these seven Minnesota cities listed above are great sportsman locations and I certainly do not dispute the honor deservingly bestowed on each by the outdoor magazine.   Still, this article made me ponder just how I might pick a personal top 10 list of great Minnesota sportsman towns.   Keep in mind I’m not basing this list on the same objective criteria as the OL list above, instead, I’m basing my list entirely on what I perceive to be a great Minnesota location for the hunter/fisherman to call home.   Here’s my list:
  1. Walker
  2. Detroit Lakes
  3. Grand Rapids
  4. Ely
  5. Worthington
  6. Battle Lake
  7. Forest Lake
  8. Nicollet
  9. International Falls
  10. Lanesboro
So, there you have it…both Outdoor Life’s top picks as well as my personal picks for the best sportsman cities found in Minnesota.   Now it’s your turn.   Tell us what town hasn’t been mentioned that you feel deserves some special recognition.   Or, give us your own top 10 listing of Minnesota towns where you feel it would be ideal to reside as a Minnesota sportsman.

Join the fishing opener fun on Twitter

Posted by: Jim Braaten Updated: May 6, 2009 - 9:17 PM

This weekend Minnesota anglers from throughout the state (actually, the world) will be able to keep up with the fishing action simply by reaching for their cell phones.   That’s right, if you’re the tech savvy type who enjoys texting on the cell phone nearly as much as jigging a shiner, this blog post might be right up your alley.

Introducing Twitter.com, the wildly popular social networking service that allows you to function from either your computer or a mobile device, such as a cell phone.   Consider it somewhat like a mini blog requiring the user to post information containing 140 characters or less, sometimes even including a picture.   With an estimated 14 million current users, Twitter has become one of the hottest websites on the Internet with daily traffic often ranking it in the top 25.

So how do you use it?   Well, best of all everything is FREE.   To join Twitter and start “tweeting” (the lingo for posting a message) all you need is an e-mail address and a little time to set up some basic information about yourself.   Then you start “following” people and posting an occasional message.   HINT:  One of the best ways to figure out who to follow is to observe someone sharing similar interests and watch who they follow.   Simply click on the “follow” button and soon you’ll be reading all the tweets made by that person.   Keep in mind to tweet from your mobile device you’ll have to take some additional steps in the set-up process.

Sound too confusing?   Not interested in joining?   No problem there, either.   If you’re willing to forego posting pictures of yourself holding that lunker walleye, you can still use Twitter.   For instance, I will be tweeting from www.twitter.com/jim7226 and you can follow my messages just by linking.   My plans are to start detailing my Minnesota Fishing Opener experience near Bemidji beginning on Friday morning.

Yet, don’t just follow me.   If you want to read about how other Minnesota anglers are doing and reporting their fishing results on Twitter, go to this website: www.search.twitter.com and simply type in the search block #mnfishopener as your query.   On Twitter the words or characters preceded by the #(hash sign) are considered hashtags.   By inserting a hashtag somewhere within your posted Twitter message it allows other people searching to easily find your relevant comments.   In other words, performing a search as I just described should result in reading tweets made by everyone pertaining only to the Minnesota Fishing Opener.

The key is if you’re using Twitter and you want your tweet to be found by others you must include the following hashtag #mnfishopener somewhere as part of each message.   Keep in mind you can also “follow” the Star Tribune’s Club Outdoors (www.Twitter.com/cluboutdoors) on Twitter to get the latest updates made to the website.

No doubt about it our polite society has come a long way since the days when Izaak Walton epitomized angling in its purest form.   Certainly using Twitter while dancing in the waves sitting in a Lund isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time.   Still, this year for those opening day anglers with a penchant for modern technology, it might be just another way to pass a little time once the fishing action becomes slow.



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