The Internet: a sportsman’s paradise

By Roger Wolfe - Outdoors Columnist

I know this may be hard to believe, but the internet is an amazing thing! There is a lot of crazy stuff on it, both good and bad, but believe it or not, it can be an excellent source of information.

Another thing that is hard to fathom is how the outdoor industry has embraced the technological age and has made great strides to use it to the advantage of those outdoors types everywhere. Who would have thought that if you wanted to go outside to do something, the internet would ever be your first stop?

Every state and probably every country that has a game management program can be found on the internet. Did you know that if you wanted to go fishing in Argentina you could find out everything you needed to know with just a few keystrokes and mouse clicks?

There are even information clearing houses such as . This site is an easy gateway to any place in the United States you would want to go fishing with links to each state’s game and fish management agency.

Most of the agencies make it incredibly easy to purchase your license right online. No more wasted time trying to figure out where you have to go buy a license. Click, Click, Print and you can have it in hand before you even leave for your trip.

West Virginia is no exception, they are there, too. Just a few clicks and a credit card and viola` you have your fishing license and are ready to go. I even put this to the test on a recent trip to Arkansas. I had never been to the state, much less fished it, but thought what the heck.

A few minutes online and I had not only secured my fishing license, but had found several places to fish within minutes of where I was staying. Next thing you know my family and I are spending the evening at a new lake catching fish. How cool is that?

Not that many years ago if you wanted to go fishing in a completely new area, you would have to find some maps or find a sporting goods store, make some calls and get out and spend hours looking around to find a license and spot to fish. Not anymore.

The computer age has made most of the leg work easy. You can even dig a little deeper and find out what is biting, what the best bait is, and where the better spots to fish are.

The information isn’t limited to just the fishing spots either. If you want to plan that hunting trip of a lifetime, anything you can imagine is right there to help you prepare for your trip and find out all the information you could ever need.

Maps, aerial pictures, public access, even landowners who will grant you permission to hunt is all right there at your fingertips. I am speaking from experience when I say that this can save you a ton of time and gas when driving around knocking on doors.

It used to take weeks to order maps and have them sent to you via snail mail, but now you can find them online and get them almost instantly. There are even services that let you customize downloadable maps you can save right to your phone or tablet that you can take in the field with you. Amazing!

You can find camping areas and hiking trails, boat launches and marinas. If you don’t want to drag your boat across country, just click away and find out where you can rent one when you get there.

Thanks to the internet and the outdoor world getting along so well, it has opened the door to a ton of small business opportunities that might not have been profitable otherwise. Right here at home you can see this at work with the many canoe and kayak rental shops that advertise on the internet and social media.

Want to rent an ATV and ride the Hatfield and McCoy trail? No problem, just Google it. The list goes on and on. The adventure possibilities are endless on our rivers, lakes and trails and thanks to the internet, the word is spreading across the country and our secret is out.

So, if you want to get outdoors on your next vacation, or are just looking for something new to do on the weekend, don’t be afraid to Google it. We all want to find ways to get our kids, and ourselves, unplugged. Maybe the first thing to do is let our fingers do the walking and plan our next adventure online before heading outdoors.

By Roger Wolfe

Outdoors Columnist

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