Hunters love telling stories of big bucks, bulls, and gobblers they’ve taken and anyone who has doubled on ruffed grouse has probably relayed the circumstances of the hunt to at least 100 people, but every hunt, successful or not, offers a lesson—if we are willing to pay attention. By keeping a hunting journal, sportsmen and woman can diagnose problems in their hunting strategies and discover the keys to successful hunts. This is why every hunter should keep a journal.
Just Do It
To many hunters, the word “journal” conjures images of 14 year old girls writing about their latest crush. Get past your preconceptions and start a journal.
After each hunt or scouting session, enter the date and time of your trip along with other key factors such as weather, moon phase, and game sighted. Keeping a journal forces you to pay attention to variables you may have overlooked otherwise.
Over time, patterns will develop and allow you plan your hunting trips around historical hot spots.
By keeping a journal, hunters often discover trends. For example, you may find that deer sightings are highest from a particular treestand from October 15 through the 25 or that the turkeys in your hunting area gobble best between April 10 and April 15.
This type of information will take a few years to accumulate, but once it does you will have an advantage when heading afield.
Make a Map
For deer hunters, one of the best times to scout is during the post season. Deer sign like rubs, scrapes and runways used during the season are highly visible. Even if the buck that made the sign was harvested, chances are that the same features that attracted him to an area will attract another buck the following year.
Another benefit of post season scouting is the fact that hunters don’t have to worry about spooking deer. Some hunters go so far as to intentionally spook bucks from their beds and use the information to plan the next season’s hunts.
The only problem with post season scouting is the fact that hunters have to wait 6-9 months before using the information and much of it can be forgotten in that time.
This is where your journal comes in to play. Make a map of your hunting area and mark deer sign, deer sighted, and potential stand locations. When next year’s hunting season rolls around, simply consult your journal before planning your strategy.
Off Season Entertainment
Hunting journals offer some interesting reading during the off season. When the snow is piled high and you are dreaming of spring, pull out your journal and read a few passages from last year’s spring turkey season. When the bugs are so bad you can’t venture out your door in mid summer, take a look at your passages from the late archery season.
Reliving past hunts releases small doses of adrenaline we feel while hunting, holding hunting addicts over until the next season begins. A hunting journal helps you clearly remember the details and allows you to fully immerse yourself in the memory. It might also be the key to taking that trophy of a lifetime.