Saturday, September 28, 2013

Buck Analytics for Dummies (Part 4) The Rut

This is where analytics can really help your hunting. I run two separate analysis. One for bucks and another for does.

Food is the major concern for both bucks and does prior to the rutting period. Once the rut starts, the bucks are more interested in sex than in food. However, the does primary interest is still in feeding and that’s where we want to begin.

Focus on primary feeding areas and the travel routes between them and the bedding areas.

I like to transfer my doe map onto clear plastic Mylar. (This map includes: travel routes, feeding areas, bedding areas, etc.) Next I transfer my buck map to Mylar. Lastly, I layer these two clear Mylar maps onto a fresh map.

I’m looking for where the buck and does patterns overlap. To be exact, I’m looking for where their daytime travel routes overlap. When in doubt, I always lean towards where the does are, as the bucks will be following them.

Wind direction is key here. Not only the wind direction at your stand, but also the wind direction as it effects your travel route to the stand.

As always, I’m asked about the timing of the rut.

The answer is simple, the rut will occur the exact same time as it did last year. Which is the exact same time it occurred the year before that and so on.

Using analytics in this way greatly increase your odds of being where the deer want to be before they get there.

Good luck,

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Buck Analytics for Dummies (Part 3)

Identifying Deer Preferences through Micro Segmentation

Micro segmentation identifies each individual deer’s preferences, needs, and behaviors. In order to get down to the individual deer level, it’s necessary to score the individual deer and set location where we might intercept that deer. I score my deer and stand locations on a 1-5 scale based on

  • Recency: How recent are my deer sightings? ("1" can be a year ago; "5" can be two days ago)
  • Frequency: How frequently does he visit? ("1" can be once a week; "5" can be every other day)
  • Environmental; What environmental considerations need to met? ("1" can be any travel funnel: "5" an be a funnel with an active primary food source near by)

It’s important to establish scores which weights all factor equally: You don’t distinguish the value of one of the three measurements from the others.

For example, if a deer scores low in every measure, you would give him a score like 1-1-1. If they’re high on the frequency score, you would get something like this 1-4-1. As you an see; the first buck has a total score of 3 and the second buck has a score of 6, making the second buck twice as likely to be encountered.

Scoring allows us to weigh each deer on each day and enhance our hunting odds by focusing on relationships and not just on deer sightings. This can only be effective if we remain neutral in applying scores.

We call this making a decision tree. Decision trees show the open and interpretable patterns which were discovered. This enables us to target individual deer and locations that are relevant in real time. We can determine the right deer to pursue and how to pursue him.

We can use deer analytics to gain deeper insights into deer behavior, but only in areas with little or no hunting pressure.

More on deer analytics





Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Buck Analytics for Dummies (Part 2)

Segmenting Data

The days of "stay and pray" hunting may be over. Segmenting allows us to layer and group like data to reduce the number of unproductive days in the field and to select the most likely places to hunt on any given day.

Things to consider when segmenting data are:

1) deer density

2) feed and bedding locations

3) daytime travel corridors

4) location of licking branches

5) weather patterns ( including barometric pressure, wind direction, humidity)

6) date

Visualizing Results

Hunters need to make decisions - and fast. Transforming these predictable insights into visuals is critical in making key decisions quickly and effectively.

Segmenting your hunting intelligence is essential because it allows you to quickly see

  • Underlying reasons for the deer’s actions
  • Relationships between data collected
  • What-if situations in real time
  • If new locations will be productive

For example:

There are three funnels on a piece of land I hunt. I have set trail cameras near licking branches on all three funnels.

Camera 1 has pictures of several deer and images of a monster buck. Problem; The buck comes through only hours after dark.

Camera 2 has pictures of deer, but the majority of these pictures are on sunny days with the wind

blowing from the southwest.

Camera 3 has pictures of deer on rainy days with a north wind.

Most hunters would hunt the funnel where camera 1 is located and pray the buck will show during shooting hours. By analyzing all the data, the smart hunter would pick one of the other funnels and hunt when the weather conditions are most favorable to see deer during the day. Remember that during thee rut, the bucks are doing exactly what you are doing. They are hunting other deer.

Behavioral data (frequency where we see deer) is good place to start segmenting. But in order to get a complete view of the deer in your area you’ll need to incorporate environmental data as well.
More on segmenting deer data

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Buck Analytics for Dummies (Part 1)

Buck analytics is a method of turning data into insights which will allow us to better predict deer behavior. It helps the hunter to segment this data, uncover hidden patterns, and to make optimal decisions on where and when to hunt. The challenge is to figure out what data is useful and what should be ignored.

Turning data into predictable insights includes:

  • Finding the ideal buck to hunt.
  • Locating the ideal stand location.
  • Optimizing your valuable hunting time.
  • Increasing your success rate on big bucks.

Today hunters can find all of the data they need to dramatically improve their hunting success. There are harvest reports from wildlife departments, satellite images from outer space, and trail cameras. Our ability to gather data has changed the way we hunt forever.

While gathering data has become relatively easy, segmenting that data can be difficult. Start by defining what you want to achieve through analytics. What will have the biggest impact on your hunting? Is your focus on finding new locations to hunt or are you trying to determine how to better hunt an existing location? Perhaps your biggest concern is limit unproductive days? The questions you ask yourself up-front will narrow the amount of data you’ll need for any scenario.

More on Buck Analytics

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Buck Communication Hot-Line

Apple Creek Whitetails Photo
Most communication between mature deer is through the use of scent. Every hunter knows about scrapes and some even understand their importance in buck hierarchy. While scrapes are important, they don’t start showing up until immediately before the rut. This leaves us wondering where the bucks are the rest of the year.
While all scrapes are used to communicate a bucks presence to other bucks, all scrapes are not equal. The scrapes which are most important are the ones with a well used "licking branch" above them. These are the scrapes which will be visited by several bucks.
The most important roll of scrapes to a hunter is in helping him to locate these "licking branches".
To a deer, a licking branch has more meaning than a scrape. Bucks use "licking branches" throughout the entire year. Licking branches hold scent better than scrapes. Urine deposited in scrapes dissipates quickly. Pre-orbital scent on licking branches stays considerably longer.
One way to really get the a buck’s attention is to remove a licking branch from one area and place it over a scrape in an area where you plan to hunt. It won't take long for the bucks to notice an intruder is in their area.
Licking branches get way more attention than scrapes.
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Monday, September 16, 2013

Early Season Stand Placement

Apple Creek Whitetails Photo
There’s an old saying, "When the velvet comes off, the brains go in." By now the majority of bucks have shed their velvet and are entering the transition period between summer hangouts and the rut.

Bucks who were as predictable as clock work have seemed to vanish. Bachelor groups are now breaking up and the bucks are establishing a pecking order.

Early season hunting is not as productive as it will be when the weather cools and the rut kicks in. Early in the fall, stand placement is critical for success.

This time of year I do most of my hunting in the afternoon. It’s just too easy to spook deer while trying to get to your stand in the early morning. I focus on feed and place my stand between bedding areas and the primary food source.

Big deer like to enter a field on a inside corner and this is an excellent place to place a stand. Mature bucks are always the last to come into a food source. Often the bigger deer don’t show until it is too late to shoot, for that reason, I prefer to place my stand a 100 to 200 back form the inside corner of a food plot.

I like my stands high and 20 feet above the ground works real good at keeping your scent above the deer. Be sure to hunt only when wind direction is favorable. You don’t want your scent blowing towards the trail where the buck will becoming or blowing directly towards deer feeding. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve been busted by my scent drifting down on feeding does.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Lost Connection

The vast majority of people on this contentment have lost all connection with the earth. They think food comes from a grocery store. They have never raised wheat, grown a vegetable garden, plucked a chicken, or shaved a pig. They have lost connection to where food comes from.

There is a lot more to hunting than killing a deer. The biggest part of hunting is to provide food. Few of us can actually process a deer into eatable meat.

My friends at Deer Dummy have produced a great video on how to properly butcher a deer. I only wish this video had come out years ago when I first started hunting. It sure would have saved a lot of wasted time.

Become a complete hunter and learn how to process your own venison. I can promise you that venison you cut and wrap yourself tastes better.

Be sure to visit and order your copy of “follow the bone deer cutting” today.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Three Most Important Qualities

The Three Most Important Qualities a Hunter Can Possess

I believe the three most important qualities and abilities a hunter can possess are:

1. An understanding of one's self (self-mastery)

2. An understanding of the nature of deer

3. An understanding of how to carry out a real investigation

We will manage the hunt by first mastering ourselves. There’s a world of difference between mastery and control. The average hunter will attempt to establish his self-importance by controlling his environment. The more experienced hunter may actually have more difficulty practicing proper scouting techniques than a relative novice. He may think he’s seen it all and thus will miss subtle but essential changes in a deer’s behavior. Thinking we "know it all" is the kiss of death in hunting. We must lose our ego and look at everything with fresh eyes. That’s where the novice has it over the seasoned veteran.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Your first mistake might be assuming deer are rational

Your second mistake could be assuming that hunters adapt to changes in environment quickly.

And the hunter’s third mistake is assuming that once they learn a strategy, they will be able to apply it.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Stooge Hunting

Apple Creek Whitetails Photo
The Three Stooges have impulse control issues.
It’s not that they are stupid, slow, or even dimwitted.  No, the problem with the Stooges is they do whatever comes to mind without any thought of the consequences.  They slap, poke and stumble their way through life. They never consider the outcome of a project, they just do it.
Stooge hunting is much the same. It’s what happens when hunters when hunters do what feels right in the short term without thinking of the alternatives or implications. It’s due to boredom, fear, or lack of focus.
Nearly every hunt gone awry is the result of Stooge hunting. We aren’t thinking of long term success just the satisfaction of immediate impulses. We would do better if we didn’t act like Stooges.
Look at the BIG picture. Short term thinking often leads to dead ends and failed hunts.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Staying Flexible in a Changing Hunting Environment

Photo courtesy of Apple Creek Whitetails
Think of yourself as stretchable, expandable, and able to adapt to anything new. Who wants to view themselves as static, inflexible, and unable to adapt? Changes in the hunting environment are unpredictable, and we will be asked to adapt to changes we never anticipated.

When changes occur it’s best to think ahead, but not too far ahead. Instead of abandoning our efforts, focus on changes we can make in the immediate future. I mean think of how you can get ahead of the deer, not next time, but right NOW!

The most important strategy for staying flexible during change is to prepare for various change scenarios. If we create a plan for each possible set of change circumstances, we are prepared to engage change in any way that affects us in the field.