My first roebuck, conscious incompetence, and a new approach to hunting
My first roe buck
I got my hunting license when I was 15 years old. My rifle permit followed shortly after.
As soon as I turned 16, I could officially hunt.
It was around this time that I shot my first roebuck.
I remember it vividly. It was a sunny morning. One of those mornings where you can feel the air around you warming up. Although it was a beautiful day, I didn't see any deer all morning.
On my way home, feeling slightly defeated, I followed a path that ran along a small stream, weaving its way through the landscape. My mind had started to drift to other things, but as the trail rounded a bend, I froze in my tracks.
Standing tall, no more than 30 meters down the path, a roebuck was grazing in the morning sun.
I lifted my Remington 700 Mountain Rifle in .30-06.
It was more calibre than needed (I'd bought it for the bigger adventures I was dreaming about). The caliber might have been on the big side, but fortunately, the scope was a low magnification. A Schmidt & Bender 1.5-6x42. Although my hands were shaking like leaves in the wind and my heart was beating out of my chest, I managed to steady my rifle and squeeze off a shot directly on target.
I can still picture my Dad laughing as I emerged from the woods.
I'd forgotten to bring a drag rope. Naturally, I thought it would be a good idea to carry my trophy over my shoulder.
I had blood running down my back.
It was a real mess, but I didn't care.
I was now (in my eyes at least) officially an experienced and competent hunter.
If I'd only known how wrong I was...
I would soon come to realise that hunting is not always that easy.
If anything, it's like driving a car. Getting your license and taking your first ride is only the beginning.
Eager to gain more experience, I took advantage of every opportunity to hunt more roe and fallow deer at home. When home became too familiar, I traveled to Scotland for my first hunting excursion abroad. Over the years, I've hunted game on multiple continents: from hunting Muntjac, Roe, Fallow, and Red Deer in the UK; to Ibex in the mountains of Kazakhstan; and buffalo in the bush of the Central African Republic.
No matter where I traveled or how many successful hunts I accumulated under my belt, knowledge and skill development were always top priority.
As an avid hunter since 16, I've made my fair share of mistakes.
Although none were too serious, my pride has definitely taken a few hits throughout the years.
Still, I always strived to learn from my mistakes. I worked hard to improve and only used the gear I could afford.
I thought I was doing everything right.
...But one day I realized I'd been doing it all wrong.
Realising my incompetence...
I started RedKettle as the intersection between my expeience with product development and my love for hunting.
I wanted to design and build gear that would help folks like you become more effective and efficient hunters.
Starting RedKettle forced me to think extra hard about the art of hunting.
About what makes a great hunter.
What makes an efficient hunter.
That's the kind of hunter we strive to build gear for at RedKettle.
What I didn't plan on was just how much starting my own hunting gear company would force me to reflect on my own journey as a hunter.
If I am being honest, it wasn't always a pretty picture...
I came to realize that my learning style has been sporadic. Often driven by fads, flashy items, and trends that have caught my attention along the way.
Looking back, I realize that I was often attempting to buy new skills. A new rifle, scope, or calibre. All in the belief that it would make a significant difference. Although reliable tools are necessary, they're only part of the equation.
It also doesn't help that most books, courses, and guides all focus on the obvious.
The knowledge and skills you need to pass your tests. Like legislation, management, firearms, and general biology.
Now, don't get me wrong, these are all essential things.
They just don't provide you with a framework for continuous improvement.
Colonel Jeff Cooper, the father of practical shooting, is quoted as saying:
The same could be said in reference to hunting licenses, knowledge, and the gear we purchase.
So, why is this relevant to you?
I believe hunting is a force for good within nature
As such, we must be the best hunters we can be.
And maybe you're a little bit like me...or a lot.
You want to better yourself.
To you, hunting is a path of continuous development. And maybe, like me, you’ve wandered through the desert without a framework to follow. A framework that could guide you when honing your skills and building your knowledge.
As I pondered, I realized that hunting covers many roles.
The act of hunting is about implementing conservation plans. And it also provides us with meat to share with family and friends.
The act of hunting is about a job well done.
With minimal effort.
It's all about efficiency. To serve the other roles we hold as Stewards of Nature.
With this in mind, there was only one thing left to do.
I had to set off on my quest to become an efficient hunter.
I'm writing the next chapters. And you can join our list if you'd like to know when I post them.
Interestingly enough, however, the starting point was both obvious and unusual at the same time...
Hunting and car manufacturing
It just sounds right.
In a relatively short period of time, Toyota Motor Company eventually overtook the entrenched competition.
As of now, they are the biggest car manufacturer in the world.
Their success comes down to the Toyota Production System (TPS). The brainchild of Sakichi Toyoda.
The TPS has been adopted by other organizations in the form of LEAN manufacturing.
The objective of LEAN manufacturing is to eliminate waste and achieve efficiency.
Back in 2006, I became a certified LEAN Six Sigma Green Belt while working for General Electric.
Fast forward to my search for efficiency in hunting. Just as Doc Brown hit his head on the toilet and envisioned the Flux Capacitor, one day it hit me. I'd had the toolbox to help me all along.
Efficient hunting is the intersection that lies between traditional hunting and LEAN manufacturing.
Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees...
This was an exciting revelation.
I now had a clear structure and the philosophy to guide me on my journey toward efficiency.
Unfortunately, when I began to consider what tools would work, my original feelings of excitement began to dwindle.
LEAN is designed for manufacturing.
Merging my hunting knowledge with my LEAN experience was not going to be easy.
If anything, I was going to need a lot of supporting ideas.
Long story short, I realized the solution was not to use LEAN directly, but to build a framework based on LEAN.
A framework or a toolbox for efficient hunting.
On this blog I'll share the individual tools.
And ideas on how you can implement them.
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