Why You Should Keep a Hunting Journal

The other day my wife and I were trying to remember when I bought my jeep. Finally I said, “It was when John (our younger son) was in seventh grade, because one of the first things I did with the jeep was haul his big deer in it. But, that spring, when he shot his turkey during youth season, I was still driving the van. So I bought the jeep sometime in the late spring or summer of 06.” And that, in fact, is true.

I can recall almost any life event . . . as long as it took place during hunting season, or can be related in some way to hunting season. Otherwise, the mounting years are a blur. I think it’s the same for a lot of hunters. Nevertheless, while I can remember a lot of the events of the past 35 hunting seasons, I can no longer remember them all. I should have been keeping a hunting journal all these years.

I have ignored various pieces of good advice over the years (“Don’t quit your day job,” another writer said when I told him I aspired to be a freelance writer), but the advice I wish I had taken years ago was to keep a hunting journal. My friend Larry Brown kept – probably still keeps – a log of every hunt he has been on. I first met him on a grouse and woodcock hunt 25 years ago, and as we left each cover he took a few minutes to jot down which dogs we ran, what we saw, how many birds the dogs pointed, and what we shot at each spot. He told me that day that I should keep one, too. It wasn’t just to help him find more birds, though it did that, but it also helped him remember each day in the field.

At the time I hadn’t been hunting terribly long. I could remember everything that happened to me in the field. With some effort, I could recall every bird I had shot and certainly every deer and turkey, because the numbers were low, and being young and blessed with a very good memory I didn’t see the point in keeping a written record.

Now, looking back, I wish I had. And, if you are young now, I’ll give you the same advice I ignored all those years ago. Keep a journal. As the years and hunts pile up, it becomes harder to remember everything. It only takes a few lines to bring back memories of the day and the older you get, the more important those memories become.