How are you going to evaluate your 2016 deer season?
For most states (excluding the South), deer season is set to close within the next month or so. When that day comes, and you can no longer head out to the stand or blind to chase whitetails, how are you going to evaluate your season? I know there will be a lot I look back on, and here are some of those things that I think can help you evaluate your season as well.
1. What did you learn?
The first thing I ask myself is simple. What did I learn about deer this past year? Without even having an opportunity to draw your bow, or shoot your gun, you can still learn a ton each season about whitetails. Whether that be from trail cameras, sightings, encounters, etc. learning is crucial to becoming a better deer hunter.
The more I can put together each year and learn, the more successful I consider my season when evaluating it. There is nobody on this planet that has deer 100% figured out, and if somebody claims they do, they probably don't know half as much as you. With that said, I am always trying to put that next piece of the puzzle together. If you can look back on your season, and realize that you had a stand in a wrong location, and need to move it, even if only fifty to a hundred yards, I consider that successful. You now have something to work off of for next year. If you figured out that a certain buck beds in a different area than you thought, that's okay because you were able to put it together. Even if that buck got killed by another hunter, you still learned something that will apply to a buck in the future.
Overall, there is so much information to be learned about whitetails just on the properties that you hunt. Don't let success dictate how you evaluate your season. If you can learn something each and every year, you are setting yourself up for success in the future.
Did you have fun?
Honestly, this shouldn't have to be a part of your evaluation, but it's going to be. And it's going to be a part of mine as well. We live in a day and age, where all you see in the hunting media is giant bucks going down, and how serious deer hunting is. I take deer hunting just as seriously as the next guy, but what is ever so important to remember is why you started deer hunting in the first place. It's because you enjoy to do it right? Don't ever lose sight of that. I don't care if you shot three booners in one season, if you look back on the year and can't genuinely say you had fun, I wouldn't consider it an overwhelming successful year.
Were you able to put it together?
Inevitably, when we deer hunt, what is our end goal? To shoot a deer right? Before I go any further, remember this is only a single PART to evaluating a successful season. It isn't what dictates success. But, I love when it does all come together, and when I look back on my season, I want to know if I was able to make it happen. When I am evaluating my season, if I was able to kill, I don't take it at face value. Just as you have to learn, and figure out why you didn't get a deer if that was the case, drill it down further and figure out how you were able to shoot that deer or big buck. Was it sheer luck? Was it because you paid attention to all the little details? What got you in position to ultimately seal the deal? Those are important questions to ask when it comes to evaluating your season, and it will help you greatly for next season as well.
When it does come time to look back on your 2016 season, the most important thing to remember is learning. I put that above all else. If I was able to take away some helpful information to apply to future years to come, I'm doing something right.