People + Process = Performance

Lean and Deer Hunting Part 5

This is the fifth blog in the series on deer hunting and Lean, Ergonomics (Human Factors, Six Sigma and Systems Thinking (L.E.S.S.).

In my last blog I explained how I’ve used Lean and Six Sigma (process improvement) principles when I arrive at the hunting land and at my deer stand.  In this blog I want to focus on continuous process improvement which is at the heart of any serious deer hunter.  The same can be said for anyone who takes their work and/or hobbies seriously and strives from better results.  In hunting, process improvement can be applied to it as a whole, i.e. a systems approach for improvement, as well as individual parts.  As a whole, hunting success can be evaluated on if you filled your tags and then by the size of the deer.  Getting a deer is one thing; getting a “nice” deer is another, meaning good sized doe and/or large antlered buck.  Examples of individual parts can be shot accuracy and deer stand placement.

I’ve never done formal Six Sigma process for deer hunting, nor do I feel it is necessary.  Again, the foundational principles of process improvement are applicable and effective for deer hunting.  The same can be said for the majority of work processes that companies want to improve.  Let me use the individual parts of deer hunting that I mentioned above as examples.

Deer Stand Placement

We have a combination of ladder and portable stands that we use depending on the area.  The placement of the stands is a vital component to success.  Placing it where there are very few deer or where deer can pick you/the stand out easily obviously will not bring success.  Like other hunters we look for deer trails, natural funnels and feeding areas to determine where we put our stands.  Even though we hunt the same land year after year we still end of up moving at least half of our stands to slightly different locations hoping for better results.  In order to know whether to move a stand we keep statistics each time we hunt.  We log the day, conditions, what stand we hunt and the number of deer and type we see from the stand.  At the end of the season we review the stats for each stand and rank them from best to worst.  We use that along with our experience from other years to determine whether to move it.    Stand placement is not an exact science as deer have their own ways and time on if and when they will move through an area but keeping and evaluating our stats has improved our success.

Shot Accuracy

Assuming the stand is in the right location and a deer shows itself for a shot opportunity the hunter has to be ready and confident that his/her shot will be accurate.  I spend a significant amount of time target shooting in order to know that I will be ready when the opportunity presents itself.   I not only want my scope sighted in but I want to practice the entire motion of getting the bow/gun from the rest, lifting it up and getting it in shooting position, holding it and waiting and finally firing.  I try to mimic conditions and my body’s response to seeing a nice deer so that I have a smooth motion, my heart rate and breathing are lowered and my hands are steady every time.  I do this in the off season as well as during the season in order to judge my performance and correct any flaws.  I don’t want to miss if I have an opportunity.  Of course, I have missed shots over the years but the number of times has decreased significantly.  When I miss with my bow it hasn’t been bad shot placement but either due to deflection from a branch I didn’t see/notice or misjudging yardage as the deer moved.  When I’ve missed with my rifle it has been due to thick brush as when I’ve had clear shots, it’s been one shot and the deer is down.

These are just two areas within deer hunting that continuing to improve is necessary for success year after year.  In part 6, I will continue discussing process improvement and introduce systems thinking.