Thursday, December 22, 2011

What Is Hunting About For You?

(by Brad Wilson - guest contributor)

Have you ever just sat back and asked yourself why you hunt? Have you ever wondered what it is all about with the expensive leases, high price of ammo, $1000+ guns, ATVs, boats, dogs, and so on?
I have hunted most of my life and sometimes I have to stop and ask myself what it is really all about. There was a time when all I cared about was getting that bull pintail sporting a pair of 8” sprigs or that mallard drake that had 4 curls, fully plumed out, with some jewelry on its leg. I have to admit I was caught up. I was more worried about showing off my accomplishments than being thankful for what I had been blessed with.
It wasn’t until about 4 years ago while I was at a Blast & Cast Men’s Ministries event that I realized that this “game” that we all take part in is more than we sometimes give it credit for. It is about sitting in a duck blind, brushed in by the natural habitat that had grown up around it. It is about watching the sun rise over the bay that has a thin layer of fog over the top of it and seeing a wad of early morning teal come buzzing into the decoys. It is about the smell of gunpowder when you pull the trigger on that brand new Beretta A400 Xtreme shotgun that you were so forunate to receive. It is about watching your dog work to retrieve the bird you shot but didn’t know was banded until you got it in your hand. It’s about friendships, camaraderie, and brotherhood that you share with some of the closest friends in your life. It’s about watching your first-born child shoot his or her first duck with your grandpa’s old Stevens single shot .410 and seeing the huge smile on their face. It’s about being able to share that same first duck with your brothers in the blind. It’s about taking your 70 year old grandpa hunting with you and soaking in his “infinite wisdom,” quietly, because one day he won’t be there to share it with you.
All-too-often we get caught up in the rat race of life, whether it be work, home, or these great outdoors that we were so graciously blessed with. All-too-often we need to stop, take a step back, and realize the money, time, and effort we spend has its own rewards that are far beyond what we sometimes give credit for.
So what is hunting about for you?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Embarking On A Waterfowl Journey

(by Brad Wilson - guest contributor)

It was a warm September morning. The sun was due up in a couple of hours, and what we like to call “The Rebirth of an Addiction” was about to take place. The boat was parked in a cane break that harbored what we would soon find out to be a waterfowler’s dream. About an hour to legal shooting time, we decided to go ahead and throw out the decoys and get set up. The spread was going to be large and very inviting. We had just over 15 dozen blocks of various species tossed out and bobbing up and down with every ripple of the salt water beneath them. As time grew nearer, the feeling inside was comparable to your first kiss but with a slight difference. See, this feeling was familiar but never ceases to change when this time of year rolls around. It is a feeling that you have been looking forward to since the last day of the previous season, and it is something that non-hunters could never understand. An addiction. A feeling. A passion. The morning ended with full straps of Blue Wing Teal and little did we know was a true sign of things to come.

My name is Brad Wilson, and I am just your average Joe that grew up in an industrial town just outside of Houston, Texas called Baytown. I was raised as an outdoorsman by an outdoorsman. My dad was an avid deer hunter and we shared many cool Texas mornings in a deer stand in the piney woods of deep East Texas chasing that elusive wall hanger that so many have a yearning for. It wasn’t until the age of 21 that I was introduced to waterfowl hunting by a really close friend that I worked with. Matt is still like a brother to me, and we are blessed to be able to get out in the field together a few times a season. From then on there was no looking back. I have hunted ducks and geese all along the Texas Coast every season since. I am also an avid fisherman and will get a line wet every chance I get whether it is chasing speckled trout and redfish in Trinity Bay or black bass and crappie on Lake Sam Rayburn. I have an extremely understanding, beautiful, and loving wife, 2 awesome sons that I share my passion for the outdoors with religiously, and 2 labrador retrievers that are not only my duck dogs but family as well. I shoot a Beretta A400 Xtreme, have recently been drawn to reloading my own shells, and run a JB Custom duck call on a Cut Em Custom Lanyard that I made myself. God, family, my country, hunting, fishing, and guns are the things in life that I love in that very order with the last three running hand in hand with each other.

I was very blessed to be asked to write for the Beretta USA Blog, and I look forward to sharing as I “Embark On A Waterfowl Journey” over the next few months. I hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

It's your time to tell me what you think

You guys are social-media-savvy, so I might be preaching to a well-educated choir, but, from time to time, I'm asked why Beretta is so active in social media.

The answer, in my opinion, is easy: contact. Contact with our customers, with those who use (or are thinking about using) our products.
Beretta Nation was born to allow people like you to be a step closer to us. Gone are the days of a brand being a distant "entity" that people only partially knew.

The advent of social media for Beretta is deeper than one would think. The vision for a more open, accessible and interactive Beretta came from the office of Mr. Franco Beretta himself. As someone who is holding the rudder of a 500-year old company, he knew that Beretta exists thanks to its customers. Feedback and contact has always been at the root of how Beretta operates: in the 19th Century, in Gardone Val Trompia, the Beretta family created a showroom that would be the place where business was conducted. People would literally walk in and see the World of Beretta. This showroom (today it is the site of the Beretta Museum) sits attached to the Beretta villa where the family lived.
Today, with business in all Continents, conducted in dozen of languages and including millions of transactions every day, the Beretta showroom needs to move from a physical place to a digital one. But the sentiment behind it is the same: it is the desire to be in direct contact with the customer, to understand what the Beretta Nation needs and wants, how they like our products. It is a deep understanding of the importance of transparency in what we do, of keeping the promises we make, and of giving employees a way to communicate with every customer in a way that is as personal as possible.

I see our Facebook account not as a way to push product, but as a way to connect, seek feedback and - as importantly - listen. Our Twitter activity is a tool that lets us tell you about our day-to-day activities: meetings, decisions, funny stuff that happens at the espresso machine (our form of water cooler,) cool pictures and shared ideas.

I have learned more in the past six-or-so months of activity than I had in over a decade of trade and consumer shows, of press conferences and meetings.

Beretta Nation is a community, now; one that I value and one that, I trust, will always give it to me straight. There's no wrong opinion. People are usually very complimentary. Sometimes they are not, and that's ok: our social media activity is also a way to make things right, when we drop the ball.

YouTube is another wonderful community. We do have a lot of fun, filming our how-to videos, our product overviews and our presentations. There is a reel of out-takes that I'm always tempted to show. Should I?
I also dabble in forums. These aren't "Beretta turf" and so I walk in as a guest. I will give my opinion, sure, but I let other people talk. The enthusiasm and honesty that reigns in forums is truly heart-warming. (PS: check out the Beretta Forum!)
So... why social media? Because we can't fit all of you in our Accokeek factory, or we would. We want to hear from you. We want you to be the driving force behind our next Five Centuries of business and success.
But I do want to hear from you: do you follow us on Twitter? Are you a Facebook fan? Have you seen our videos? In other words: are you Beretta Nation?
What do you expect out of social media presence? Did we deliver? What do you like best about what we do in this area? Where can we get better?
After all, blogs are made just for this!