You wouldn’t peg Denny Reid as a tech mogul or some guy from Silicon Valley, and he’s happy with that. A native of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Reid’s accent is distinctly Delmarva, the type you’d expect to hear in an oyster boat or goose blind. He’s 48 years old and makes his primary living growing watermelons, corn, wheat, and soybeans on 5,000 acres of fertile ground. When he’s not doing that, he’s usually hunting or fishing.
Many historians call the Eastern Shore the “Cradle of American Waterfowling,” since there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that the idea of luring ducks and geese into shooting range with decoys and calls was born right there. Generations of “watermen” have made a living from the Chesapeake Bay estuaries by fishing for crabs, oysters, and guiding people to big sea-run stripers. In more recent years, Maryland has created a buzz on the big deer scene, too.
Reid enjoys all the above, and was self-taught for much of it. His dad quail hunted some, but Reid himself took to bowhunting and waterfowl hunting mostly after tagging along with his buddies and learning things on his own with a trial-and-error mindset.
Reid graduated the University of Maryland in 1996, and he remembers plenty well when there was no social media in the world. But he also remembers the early 2000s, when MySpace first came along, followed shortly after by Facebook. Back then, sites like that were used by college students to get dates, and adults mostly ignored them.
But another thing was happening in the early 2000s — a meteoric rise in the popularity of outdoor television, and a proliferation of small, easy-to-use digital cameras that made it pretty easy to film a hunting video. Reid recognized at the time that people wanted to be able to share their hunting videos, but that there wasn’t a practical way to do it. The video files were huge, and smart phones didn’t exist.
“I was on the couch one night and got to thinking, it’d be cool if people had a way to share hunting pictures and videos without having to call their buddies,” Reid says, “so I went to a local computer programmer who could program a website [to host the videos].”
CamoSpace.com was born, and it quickly became popular, with interest from outdoor personalities like the Duck Commander crew, before they gained mainstream fame via Duck Dynasty. Reid kept CamoSpace going through 2010, and it gained some 70,000 users at its height — so many, in fact, that keeping the servers going to host all that user-generated hunting content became cost prohibitive. CamoSpace shuttered, at least for a time.
But a lot happened in the world between 2010 and now. Most of those adults who once ignored social media are now addicted to it, thanks to smartphones. It has fundamentally changed humankind and how we communicate with one another.
Like many people, Reid began noticing a change to the social media atmosphere a few years ago on the mainstay platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Hubs that claimed to be virtual “town squares” of free speech that were welcoming to everyone actually didn’t seem all that welcoming to many people with “traditional” American values. Hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting posts aren’t always well received, either, and in some cases, seem to be censored.
Read the full article on Realtree.com