Are they a SELL out? Gear reviews & product endorsements.

Craig Steele publisher and founder of

Craig Steele publisher and founder of

This has been bugging the crap out of me for a while!

We all grew up in a society dominated by 1 way communication and marketing, but we have to stop being ignorant and start taking responsibility for our own choices.

One of the reasons I decided to stop publishing the print ORG state hunting magazines, was because I was spending more time trying to find advertising dollars, than I was actually creating awesome content.  This was leading us down the same old traditional path.  The path where you have thousands (possibly millions) of dollars in overhead and you have to SELL out to survive.

Mike Collins with his first velvet mule deer.

Mike Collins with his first velvet mule deer.

Are Traditional Brands losing accomplished and smart followers because they sell out?

Several years ago I started hunting with my friend, Mike Collins.  Mike had hunted all of his life, but was just realizing he wasn’t satisfied with his abilities and success.

That first year, neither of us killed a buck, but Mike grew leaps and bounds as a hunter.  2 years later, Mike took a giant mule deer buck with his bow and since the day we decided to start hunting together, we have both grown as people and hunters.

A few weeks ago Mike turned to me and said, “damn, you must of thought I was the biggest dumb ass.”  I just laughed, but didn’t really disagree. I remember the BIGGEST light bulb changing event for Mike, with regards to marketing in the hunting industry.  Nikon Optics just became the title sponsor of Eastmans’ on the Outdoor Channel, this happened just shortly after Mike bought his first pair of 15 Swaros.  Mike  looked at me and said, “why the hell would those guys switch to Nikon, after endorsing Swarovski?”  Now mind you, Mike was a LOYAL fan of EHJ at the time.

Truth be told, Mike wasn’t disappointed that they had Nikon advertising with them, but when you ENDORSE a product, that’s when you are saying, “this is the BEST and you should use these.”   As soon as they said that, Mike was NO longer a loyal supporter of the EHJ brand, because he saw the marketing facade.

The world is changing…


You are stupid, if you take my advise on a piece of gear, over a trusted friends.

Yes, you are a flat out ignorant SOB, if you do!


You have CONTEXT with your friend, you know if he is full shit or not.  You know if he is a sub par hunter or if he is the real deal.  From this real context, you can make an educated decision on whether or not his opinion has value. I, on the other hand, am just a guy you know online or from the print magazines.   This does NOT make me an authority or a trusted source!

Honestly, you really don’t know me, especially if you can’t even talk with me or I won’t answer.  Now, if you build a relationship with me or have some real context, perhaps there is some merit or real value in what I have to say.  This trust takes time and I have to earn that!

Here is a very interesting blog post I read recently and I am proud to link out to it:

Selling Out- Whose Recommendation Can You Trust

Facing the mirror.

We have to stop being dumb as consumers and start ignoring the marketing HYPE.  We have to realize we are RESPONSIBLE for our own decisions.  We have to realize EVERYONE of us would choose to endorse what we felt was the best, but most traditional and online gear reviews are just bought persuaded opinions because they had to sell out.

Feel free to comment or email me.  I will answer!

2 thoughts on “Are they a SELL out? Gear reviews & product endorsements.

  1. Brad Carter

    Right on with this one Craig. There’s a line we walk in life, and I think its important to stay on path. I’ve been in your same boat as a content creator and online publisher/advertiser. I’d as soon NOT advertise or sell a product that I wouldn’t use myself, because I feel that could compromise the integrity of my content — which I want to be as honest and accurate as possible. It may mean less money in your pocket, but there are things worth more than $$ and one of those things is integrity.


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