I grew up believing that diaries were for girls. My sister used to keep one, filled with all kinds of boring details from her everyday teenage life. I know, because I snuck in her room and read the thing a couple times, hoping for some juicy tidbit I could use to blackmail her. Pretty disappointing….
But then I read about a hunter I admired who kept a journal (which somehow sounds better than “diary,” even if they’re basically the same thing) of every day he spent in the deer woods. Not only did he learn things about the game he hunted and the effectiveness of various strategies, he had a great living record of each season. So years ago, I vowed to start a journal and did a pretty good job that first season. Then I got lazy and dropped it for a year or two; I was tired after hunting, and I figured my razor-sharp memory would provide total recall for all the important details of a season. I was wrong. My memory was never that great, and it certainly isn’t improving with age.
So a couple years ago I sat down at the computer and created a journal format that I’m largely happy with. It has spaces for the mundane details including hunting site, stand location, weather, temperature, and deer sightings. Then I leave a lengthy space at the bottom for comments and reflections that capture the spirit of that day. At the beginning of the season, I print out a bunch of pages and fill them out day-by-day with a pen; I could keep the journal on my computer, but it’s not with me on every trip, and sometimes it’s just fun to sit down and scribble stuff down the old-fashioned way.
As the beginning of a new season approaches, one of my favorite things to do is sit down and read the thing, recalling all the places I sat and the stuff I saw last fall. In fact, I just did exactly that, and even if I don’t learn a darn thing from this hunt or that, the journal at least takes me on a great memory trip.