Keeping a Hunting Log


By: Roy K. Keefer
By: Roy K. Keefer

The end of the hunting season is nearly here.  Can you remember the details of how it went?  Sure you can remember some of the high points – the big buck you saw but didn’t get a shot, the kill or the chase during the rut – but can you remember all the other times you spent in a treestand or blind?  Well I have a solution.

Several years ago I started keeping a hunting log on my computer.  My goal was to memorialize my hunts and learn from the information.  The benefits of a log are many.  I’ve found it interesting to see the number of deer sightings I’ve had and the sex and size of the animals.  In addition to personal sightings, I have trail cameras set up near my stands to provide more information as to the time and frequency of deer moving through an area.  If there is a low number of sightings at a stand I know that stand has to be moved.  Sometimes stands that I thought would be good morning sites turn out to be better evening spots. 

What the author sees here, goes into his Log.
What the author sees here, goes into his Log.

I continually look back during the season to adjust my routine or to sit different stands than I had intended.  Also, I can quickly see the time of day I’ve physically seen deer, the number of bucks and does, the size of bucks, etc.  Additionally, I add notes that may be helpful, such as: turn stand due to the sun being in my eyes; move stand 20 yards to the north; clear limbs I may not have seen when I put up the stand; deer came in from a different direction than I had planned, etc. 

For those days when I don’t hunt, I note the reason – rain, too windy, etc.  I hunt with a bow all season, also I note when gun season is open to see how it affects sightings – they go down, big surprise.  Recording temperatures, moon phases and wind direction is very informative as to deer activity. 

I label my log schedule columns as follows:

  • Date
  • Stand (I have named all of my stands)
  • Morning/evening
  • Moon phase
  • Temperature
  • Wind direction
  • Bucks
  • Legal bucks (a legal buck must have 4 points on one side where I live)
  • Does
  • Fawns/yearlings
  • Turkeys
  • Time of sighting
  • Notes

How helpful is this information?   For one thing I’ve decided to move several stands to better, more active locations.  I’ve changed tactics as deer moved from the timber where acorns were plentiful and hunt food plots in the evening.  Previously deer were staying in the timber and only visiting food plots during the night. 

This nice buck is one that has eluded the author all season. Lots of pictures but so far, no shots taken.
This nice buck is one that has eluded the author all season. Lots of pictures but so far, no shots taken.

It is good to know how fruitful you sits have been. As of the date of this writing, my log shows that I have an average of 3 deer sightings per sit, 1 buck every 2 sits and very few turkeys (a disturbing fact).  I’ve had 53 buck sightings, 24 were legal bucks.  142 doe sightings and 66 fawns/yearlings.  Note that I used the word “sightings” since many of these deer were seen more than once.  Although I have 5 shooter bucks on cameras, I’ve only seen two of them and have had no shot opportunities.  The numbers may seem high but now that I’m retired, I hunt morning and evening nearly every day from opening day (September 15) until the end of December.  I’ve passed on shooting several young bucks and numerous does.  We don’t shoot does because we’re trying to rebuild the herd after significant losses to EHD in 2015. 

Try setting up a log for next year, you may want to add some other columns for information that’s significant to you.  I think you’ll find the information helps to make you a better, more effective hunter. 

For more please go to: Roy K. Keefer