Monday, December 7, 2009
Every year my daughter, Kerri Massoth, makes me a journal for my upland bird hunting. Inside, there is a page for every day I hunt that year and all the imformation that I compiled for that day. Included are; date, weather, type of birds hunted, name of people hunted with, dogs hunted with, birds found, birds lost, miles traveled, elevation gained, number of shots fired, hours hunted, location where hunting took place, and a spot for special notes of the hunt.
My reason for the journals is two fold. First off, when I'm gone, it is a record for my grandchildren to look at. That way they will know how much grandpa enjoyed life. Second, it's a way of making me a better hunter and dog person.
I write down any problems I might have with the dogs so that I can work on them that week or after the season. I also make observations of great retreives or super points by my dogs. Those are little notes that help me to remember that special hunt with my dogs.
I use the material in the journal to make me a more successful bird hunter. I try and hunt as many different locations a year as possible and never hunt the same location more than four or five times. I note how many birds I see so as to know how much hunting pressure it can handle. By looking back at past journals I can tell whether the birds seem to inhabit an area early or late in the season. I note the terrain so that I know during certain weather conditions I might avoid that area.
Sometimes I'll note little things like added pressure from other hunters so I know to leave that area alone. I also keep track of special animal sightings on the trip, such as cougars, sheep, bears, nice bucks, etc.
At the end of the year I compile all the information and compare notes to previous years. I calculate my shooting percentage, hours per bird, miles perbird, elevation per bird, average miles per day, average elevation per day, birds per hunt, how many hunts for each dog, how many birds in the bag that each dog was involved with, and totals of all these things.
This year is turning out to be a pretty normal year(2009-2010). Through December 7 our averages are: 6.5 miles per hunt, 6.15 birds per hunt, just over a mile per bird, about a bird per hour, 340 feet of elevation gain per bird, shooting at 56%, 2200 ft. of elevation gain per hunt, and 3% loss on birds that hit the ground and were not found by the dogs.
This information if not educational is at least entertaining to me.
One year I even kept track of all cost involved in my hunts. This included fuel, shells, and the like. That was not a great idea. It can depress a person real soon at how much a chukar can cost. That is a record I would advise against keeping.