July 15, 2011
By Bill Winke
There is a wealth of information contained in the years of experience we all have accumulated. I am as guilty as the next person in not documenting all this information carefully enough to be of use later. All I have, after all these years of hunting nearly every day of the season, is a sense of what is happening. I can anticipate what is likely to happen next, but I can't correlate conditions of the weather or moon phase of wind direction with the number of deer, bucks and age classes of the deer I have seen. That would be priceless information. I am going to do something about it.
One option is a software package from Chad Hensley and HuntersClub.com called the W.I.S.E. System. It stands for Weather and Imaging Synchronization Engine. This program allows you to load trail camera photos or observation data. You can then synch it to the nearest weather reporting station to permit perfect correlation with atmospheric and lunar conditions.
The cool thing is that you can then go back and run reports that compare deer activity with specific weather conditions. It all ties back to locations within your hunting area. After a few years, the program can literally tell you the best stand to hunt based on data and observations. It is a cool program. Myself and the guys at my office in town are now using it.
The next best approach is the old fashioned data base program that you simply create using Excel or Access. Unless you are pretty handy with these programs, it may simply be better to buy the prepared program and be done with it.
In this day of ready technology, it makes no sense to try to pull valuable information from a notebook diary filled with chicken scratching about what you saw and what the conditions were that day. That is way too labor intensive when later trying to boil it all down to a few useful conclusions. Too much work and time.
Granted, just because something happened one year ago doesn't mean it will happen again this year. The true value of any record keeping system is the power of time. Had I just started this process 20 years ago, I could spout off many useful conclusions based on documented sightings. I could tell you whether I noticed a drop off in activity related to various moon phases or just thought I did. Knowing versus thinking — that is the big advantage of using real data.
The best time to start logging observation and trail cam data is ten years ago. The second best time is today. My advice is simple, don't wait another year to get started.