Bristol’s World






So many wild turkey hunting blogs and social media posts are being cluttered with product endorsements or plugs that I feel the urge to pass along how professional outdoor writers deal with freebies and product discounts.

Outdoor products are like Italian subs. They are all good, just some are better than others, depending upon the diners likes and dislikes. The same is true when it comes to selecting which products you will use in the field and on the stage.

An age-old joke goes like this: “A man walks into a bar and approaches an attractive young lady. After some chit-chat, he asks, “Would you sleep with me if I paid you a million bucks.” “of course, the young lady replied” “How about if I offered you fifty bucks?” the man shot back. “To that the girl insultingly said, “What do you think I am?” The young man came back with, “I just found out what you are; now we are haggling on price.”

Will taking freebies from clothing and game call manufacturers cause you to prostitute yourself, so to speak, and what or how should offers be approached?

As a professional Outdoor Writer for more than half a century and Past President and Director Emeritus of the New England Outdoor Writers Association I point to our association Code of Ethics. Our members may not approach any manufacturer in hopes of obtaining goods or services in exchange for publicity or promotion.

Understand what the product manufacturer, sporting camp, guide, etc. expects in offering freebies or discounts. Personal endorsements even to the small extent the writer or speaker simply mentions the products or services is worth many times the cost of a printed or telecast ad. The competition caller, blogger etc. are putting their personal reputation on the line when mentioning goods and services.

Not only that the person on the receiving end becomes locked into only the products for which he/she took the discount or freebie. This doesn’t mean a caller cannot or should not look for sponsors to bankroll their travel expenses. Most of the time the “sponsors” will freely give products but seldom hand out cash.

Looking back at my experiences both as a hunter, angler and professional communicator I tried constantly to not fence myself into any one product or service. The end user of product or service cannot fairly judge those goods or services unless they are in hand for assessment. Professional and non-professionals with field testing a variety of products in mind should contact the vendor and offer a fair private review of the particular goods or services with no promise of promotion in any form.

My personal practice is to request products for field testing with the understanding I would return the product after testing or, if offered, buy the product at a reduced price, still making no offer to promote. Then, if you plan to use the product or services, do so without making you communication sound like an informercial.

A hypothetical of an actual blog and social media post reads and sound like this: “I set out for the turkey woods wearing my Nomad pants, jacket and shirt, and staked out my Avion decoys and stepped inside my Double Bull portable blind where I loaded my Remington 870 shotgun with 3 ½-inch TS turkey loads and settled in to sound off using my Quaker Boy XX Turkey longbox.”

Yes, some of the social media promotions are just that blatant and I can think of half a dozen competing brands that just crossed the blogger and social media poster off their freebie and discount list.

As a game callmaker myself, I just ignore any of those promoters when they approach me for freebies or discounts. At Deadly Imposter Game Calls, we have no “Pro Staff” competition callers. However, if a competitor wants to test out any of our calls they can do so by visiting the website, From now until the end of November 2022 we are offering all products with free shipping. That’s a serious discount and we do not expect anything in return. Possibly word of mouth good or bad. One basic rule in product advertising goes like this, “If a customer is happy with a product or service, he/she will tell three people. If that person is not happy with the product or service he/she will tell 11 people.

Since wild turkey hunting came into being back in 1973, newbies to the sport were faced with taking other hunters word for the product value or simply buy several until the perfect fit is achieved. Only a few sporting goods stores leave sample calls out for testing and almost always the calls have been scratched up to the extent they sound far different from the one coming out of the package.

If you are a blogger or a regular on social media, I feel it is perfectly fine to mention products you are satisfied with but caution you not to promote those products or service because you feel obligated after receiving a freebie or discount.