People + Process = Performance

Lean and Deer Hunting: Part 1


The 2014 deer hunting season has been open for a little over a month now where my husband and I bow hunting in Wisconsin.  This is my 10th season deer hunting overall and my 6th one bow hunting.  At first glance, it may seem strange to think about lean and apply it to deer hunting; however, lean principles are very helpful to many non-work pursuits including hunting.  The other reason I want to share with you how lean can be applied to non-work situations is because so many people at work are adverse to lean initially and can’t see how it can benefit them.  If you can show how it applies and benefits “fun things” then they’ll be more likely to see, understand and want it for “work things”. 


Let’s start with the most commonly known and fundamental tool of lean which is 5S.  What is 5S?  It is a methodology to create and maintain a high performance workplace.  In the case of hunting, I’d like to propose it is used to:

·        Ensure that we as hunters have the right tools and gear for the job

·        We are organize systemically and consistently (nothing is worse than realizing on the stand that you left an important item (like ammunition!!-true story of a friend of mine) back at home on opening day of the gun season)

·        All of the tools and gear are easily found and used at the right time


is a visual management technique which focuses on organization, simplifying the environment and reducing “waste”.  The 5S’s are as follows:

1.      Sort—organization.  Eliminate what is not needed (how much old, worn out hunting gear have you kept “just because”?)

2.      Set in order—orderliness.  A place for everything and everything in its place (How much time do you spend looking for your favorite gloves, bow holders, etc.?  How do you know if you are missing something?)

3.      Shine—cleanliness.  Cleaning and looking for ways to keep it clean (Is your hunting gear storage area a mess?    

4.      Standardize—neatness always.  Create and stick to a system to maintain the first 3 S’s (Do you take the time at the beginning of the season to get things in order only to have everything in up in a heap by the end of the season?)

5.      Sustain—conduct, motivate, self-discipline.   Keep it up and find ways to make it better.  (It’s your hunting gear.  No one else is going to clean it, organize it and keep it all nice for you except you.  It’s up to you to find internal motivation and to continue to improve your system.)

The beauty of 5S is once implemented it only takes a few minutes each hunt to maintain.


Why do 5S?

You may be thinking, why bother with this? You may have hunted for years and haven’t had any issues—or have you but just never bothered to look at from a lean perspective.  Here are some potential costs of disorganization:

·        Time—spent looking, searching, sorting.  Why?  Too much clutter, no naming or storage standards, no ownership (if you share hunting gear with another person)

·        Waiting—this can be waiting for your hunting partner to get his gear together  (I’ve experienced this too many times…)

·        Rework—have you ever had to redo something or buy the same item twice because you misplaced it somewhere?

·        Storage—how much space is your hunting gear taking up?  How much of it is wasted space?  Have you ever taken inventory of everything?  

·        Missing supplies—this goes with the above question about inventory.  When do you know you are running low on things (scent killer soap/spray, hand warmers, batteries, etc.)?  Have you ever found out you were out of something after you spent several minutes looking for it?

·        Speed of getting to your hunting stand—how quickly or slow may depend on how much time it takes for you to get ready.  Having a good system can delay your arrival time by several minutes


Those are potential costs, so let me give you a list of potential benefits of applying 5S to deer hunting.

·        Minimal time spent looking for gear such as batteries for my flashlight, crossbow bolts, bow holders, your cold weather gear when the first cold snap happens

·        Minimal time spent putting gear away after a hunt

·        Minimal time spent getting ready for the next hunt

·        Efficient systems for maintaining necessary supplies

·        Using gear and other items before they become obsolete (having doe attractant that a year or more old certainly won’t bring that the big buck in)

·        Not having to spent time re-creating or buying again the something that is lost or hard to find

·        Reduced storage needs and space

·        More time spent in the woods!


In part 2 I will share with you how I have applied 5S to my deer hunting.