Being a hardcore whitetail hunter can sometimes get a little hectic, especially if you spend a lot of time in the tree over the course of a season. During the rut, the craziness can be somewhat intensified and keeping track of what worked, what didn’t, and all that kind of stuff can be a little difficult. Keeping a log of when you see mature bucks, what they’re doing and how you hunted can benefit your hunting for years to come. Something that I do is simply keep notes on all of my hunts, where I hunted, what the conditions were, what deer I saw, what they did, etc.
Being Able to Reflect
Once the rut is over with, I think it’s fairly important to be able to reflect on it. I usually like to reflect on my entire year after the season, but when it comes to the rut specifically, I usually wait until about mid-December to really dive into what happened over the course of the month of November. I like taking some time to reflect because it allows you to more or less take a step back and look at the big picture. It gives you a chance to take a deep breath, recover from the previous weeks, and then you dissect exactly what happened.
I’ll go back and replay hunts in my head, ask myself what I would have done differently in certain situations, what I’d do the same, etc. I ask myself so many questions. Why was I successful? Why did or didn’t I see many mature bucks? Did I time my vacation right? Questions like this are immensely important. And while I’m doing this, in tandem I’ll be skimming over my notes to not only reinforce things in my head, but by going over these notes, I’ll remember more of exactly what and what didn’t happen. Having those notes are important because if I remember I had a morning where I saw multiple mature bucks, and then look to my notes and see the barometric pressure was above 30.2, I’ll look to other high-pressure days to see if there’s a correlation. That’s just a small example but having information like that is vital to me.
Anticipate in Following Years
Where documenting all of your rut hunts really shines is when you have the ability to look back on previous years’ worth of notes. When you can compare what happened last year and the year before, and the year before that, odds are you will start to notice visible trends. Maybe you’ll realize you’ve seen a mature buck from a certain stand within a three-day period every year for the past three years. Where did you see those mature bucks though? Why didn’t you send an arrow through one? If this is the case, the notes can once again be helpful if you wrote down what the bucks were doing and why you weren’t able to close the deal. Maybe it will cause you to hunt the same area this year, but perhaps a different tree.
A good example of this is an area of public land I hunt in North Dakota. I like to use examples like this to show you how things can work in your favor. I had a buddy come out and hunt with me and he sat in an area I had never hunted before. On November 15th, 2015 he had a great encounter with a mature buck. Knowing this, I went into that spot the following year on the 15th and 17th of November and had encounters with mature bucks on both of those days, with similar conditions. Though I wasn’t able to tag either one of them, I tweaked the stand, and my buddy will be back in that stand those days this year no doubt.
I wasn’t able to hunt the stand last year, but I have trail camera images of mature bucks moving in daylight every day between the 12th and 17th. I’ve clearly been able to figure out those are the dates that someone must be in there hunting. My guess is my buddy will be having a few mature buck encounters on those days this year as well. Without the note taking, I may not have remembered what days the encounters were, what the conditions were, and where to shift my stand to. But through documenting my hunts, the stand should now be in the perfect spot.
Through everything that goes on during the rut, keep yourself organized, and take detailed notes. It may seem like a chore in the moment. But whether you take out the notepad or enter them in your phone using the Quiver hunting log app, take the time to do it. It could pay off big in the years to come.