Whitetail “5 Why”

19 Nov

If you have any type of manufacturing background you may be familiar with the term “5 Why”. For those of you who are not, I’ll fill you in. It’s a process that is used to help identify the root-cause of a particular problem or defect in any workflow. This process is done several times because there could potentially be more than one root-cause to the problem, and not all root-causes need to be asked “WHY” 5 times. Don’t give up on the article yet, I’m going to relate it to bow hunting.



What’s wrong with this picture?


As I was driving home from the last hunt of my rut vacation I was asking myself “WHY” I hadn’t been successful so far this year when it comes to harvesting a mature buck. I then started breaking down all of the questions and again asked myself “WHY”.  I then started separating the scenarios that I could and could not control and asked myself if I did everything I could have to change the results. Let’s get started…

The Problem: I did not kill a mature buck.

Scenario #1

A1: Because I missed.
Q1: Why did I miss?
A2: I misjudged distance.
Q2: Why did I misjudge distance?
A3: I didn’t practice as much as I needed to.
Q3: Why no practice?
A4: I spent my time doing other things.

And there’s one possible answer to my problem. I was provided with an opportunity at a booner on November 1st and I shot over his back. I could have said “I didn’t have time to practice.” But, there were times where I decided to sit in front of the computer or TV instead of pick up my bow and practice. There is a difference between having your bow sighted in and being proficient with it and I feel that if I was better at judging distance I would have been able to harvest that buck. There’s only one way to do that, and that’s practice.

Scenario #2

A1: Because I couldn’t get one patterned.
Q1: Why couldn’t I get one patterned?
A2: I didn’t have all of my trail cameras out.
Q2: Why were the cameras not out?
A3: Because I procrastinated.

Son of a bitch! This is making me realize that I didn’t do everything I could have done to increase my odds. I could have come up with some excuse like the time issue, but then I’m just lying to myself. I think what you will see an overwhelming pattern that you control your own destiny when it come to chasing whatever your target is.

Scenario #3

A1: Because I got busted.
Q1: Why did I get busted?
A2: The wind was inconsistent.
Q2: Why was the wind inconsistent?
A3: Because my stand was in the wrong location.
Q3: Why was my stand in the wrong location?
A4: Because I was on a new property.

So here we have an example of a learning experience and no real solution. Because I was hunting a new property there was a bit of a learning curve. I’m not joking when I say the forecast had the wind blowing out of the south and the wind direction while I was in the stand was coming from the northeast. That’s to fight, not knowing what the wind direction will be when you finally get your stand set up. That threw a wrench in my strategy and it was something that I fought every time I hunted this property. The problem comes when one doesn’t learn from their mistakes and continues to do the same thing thinking there will be different results. That’s the definition of insanity.

Scenario #4

A1: Because I couldn’t get one patterned.
Q1: Why couldn’t I get one patterned?
A2: I couldn’t spend enough time on my hunting properties.
Q2: Why couldn’t I spend more time in the farm?
A3: Because I have two young kids?
Q3: Why did I decide to have kids… (I had to laugh at this.)

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but if you are young, single, and have no kids, enjoy these moments. If you decide to get married and have children your TST (Tree Stand Time) will go down. This is a fact of life. I will never put hunting before my family, but I have a kick-ass wife who lets me spend more time in the timber than most.

In conclusion, this is just another reminder that bowhunting is never guaranteed, even if you are 100% prepared for the season. In a way, your bowhunting success is a lot like a manufacturing production line, if you don’t do everything you can to improve you odds and you take shortcuts throughout the season, the finished product won’t turn out the way you wanted it to.

As always, thanks for reading,
Dan (DFW)

14 Responses to “Whitetail “5 Why””

  1. Chad Workman November 19, 2015 at 1:25 pm #

    Nice read Dan. Nice analysis of the root cause.

  2. Dan DeMeester November 19, 2015 at 4:05 pm #

    Great read, DFW. Like yourself I missed mature buck this fall. This is a great tip to keep in mind. For me it came down to lack of preparation (not knowing my shooting lane / not doing enough tree trimming in the preseason)

  3. Garrett November 20, 2015 at 12:12 am #

    A proven method of incident investigation in the safety world and now it’s applied to hunting.

    Great article.

    I doubt there is one Bowhunting father alive that hasn’t asked “why did I have kids..?” No bad feelings to the little people we are blessed with but they really aren’t a great thing until you can share experiences with them or tell them to drag a giant out of the briars. Anxiously awaiting the snicker in your voice on the WTH when Mark says they’re expecting.

    Be safe, wear your shades and arrow a giant.

  4. Andy Edqueda November 20, 2015 at 1:01 am #

    I have also been unsuccessful for most of the same reasons I feel your pain. I have a few hunts left in the season though.Keep at it and good luck.

  5. Derek November 20, 2015 at 3:55 am #

    I like the No Excuses approach. We have to control the 2 “controllables” in life:effort and attitude. You covered the effort part quite well. The attitude part is always there. Not meeting a pre-season goal is rough, especially because we spend so much time chasing whitetails. Don’t get discouraged, Dan the Man. It’s awesome to be able to have the chance to hunt. I’ve never missed a booner, so I can’t relate to how that feels. I would love to miss a Booner because that means I got to see one on the hoof!

    2 reasons why I haven’t killed a mature buck. The farmer who leases our land is way too ambitious and removed the beans, plowed, and planted wheat for next season. (Thanks a lot, bro). This was done on most of our property. So not much food = different deer patterns and decreased movement throughout the property. Number 2. Over hunting the historically “good” stands in hopes of catching lightning in a bottle. I’m still grateful for the chance to hunt as many days as I did. I too have an awesome so cheers to that! Keep up the good work.

    • Dan Johnson November 20, 2015 at 12:08 pm #

      I know how that feels. Thanks for reading, man.

  6. Scott Clarke November 20, 2015 at 4:16 am #

    Good read Dan. It’s amazing how many things have to go right to get a big buck down. And yet only 1 thing goes wrong and it’s bye bye buck. Good luck the rest of your season and cut a shooting window in that shed.

  7. Larry November 20, 2015 at 12:25 pm #

    Dan enjoyed the Q&A read. We are all guilty of something in Life. We only have so many hunting days each year. Weather it’s raining, Hot, Cold, Windy, Sunny, Snowing, it doesn’t matter we have to be in the stand to make it happen. Hunt. Hunt, Hunt we all learn for our mistakes and move on. When we do put that arrow through that deer and we recover the animal it is all worth it. Good Luck this Weekend to you and all who will be sitting in that beautiful place in the woods.

    • Dan Johnson November 20, 2015 at 1:24 pm #

      Thanks, Larry. Good luck to you as well.

  8. Grant November 23, 2015 at 11:41 pm #

    Hi Dan,

    I thought i’d play along and make my own. I ended up killing a mature buck but there were plenty of 5/Y’s for why I didn’t get a second on the ground.

    Why didn’t I kill a 2nd buck….

    A1 Because he was on the wrong side of the fence.
    Q1 Why was he on the wrong side of the fence?
    A2 Because I don’t have access to hunt the neighbors property.
    Q2 Why don’t I have access?
    A3 Because I didn’t ask.
    Q3 Why didn’t I ask?
    A4 Because I was busy doing other things.

    A1 Because I couldn’t get the deer stopped.
    Q1 Why couldn’t I get him stopped?
    A2 Because I tried to stop him too late.
    Q2 Why did I wait so long?
    A3 Because I hadn’t fully thought out every scenario and didn’t have a plan if the deer took the route directly under my stand.
    Q3 Why didn’t I think out every scenario?
    A4 Because I was screwing around on my cell phone instead of envisioning every scenario.

    A1 Because he wasn’t in a shooting lane, even though he was in range.
    Q1 Why weren’t there longer shooting lanes?
    A2 Because I put up a climber on the fly after starting to understand some movement patterns of an area I haven’t hunted much in the past, and was trying to be minimally intrusive.
    Q2 Why wasn’t this area scouted in past years?
    A3 Because I spent too much time preparing a single spot I thought looked money.
    Q3 Why did you spend so much time on that other spot?
    A4 Because I lost track that sometimes # of stand locations hung in potentially decent spots can produce better than 1 stand you think “looks money.”

    A1 Because a corn feeder went off 80 yards away and freaked him out.
    Q1 Why did the corn feeder go off at that time/place?
    A2 Because I haven’t been able to convince my hunting partners that hunting over feeders isn’t the best strategy for killing bucks.
    Q2 Why haven’t I been able to convince my hunting partners?
    A3 Because I want all the travel corridors/funnels and bedding areas to myself.
    Q3 Why am I selfish?
    A4 Because big deer mess with your mind.

    Cheers & thanks for the excellent content in your posts.

    • Dan Johnson November 24, 2015 at 12:28 pm #

      Love it! Thanks for contributing!

  9. Doug chapman April 14, 2016 at 1:38 pm #

    I have a place like that where the wind switches at sundown as the thermals drop down a hill side every night I not their bedding area. As crazy as this sounds there is one 10 yard section where I have had over 30 deer directly downwind and they don’t smell ya. Some were a hundred yards away some were 5 yards. The crazy part is the winds form a tunnel there where it condenses the air in a channel that makes a little jet stream that snakes it’s way through the area about 8 feet off the ground. It’s super cool to watch with a duff wind checker. If I move just 5 yards either way my wind falls to the ground and I’m busted. Kinda a cool way to use the wind in your favor. If the deer see ya they lift there heads to catch my wind but they can’t smell me so they calm right down. I have killed 7 deer in the last 3 years at that spot all directly down wind the furthest one was 20 yards closest was 7. Something to think about. Use a duff wind checker to test the wind patterns every couple of yards you might be surprised what you find.

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