EHN: R&D big question and how to avoid over-trying when hunting

Note: This is a reprint of a previous Efficient Hunting Newsletter. If you're not receiving my email newsletter you can click here to subscribe.

The Efficient Hunting Newsletter is a (mostly) fortnightly newsletter, by me, Christian Saugmann. About the intersection between hunting and LEAN thinking. With focus on gear, knowledge and skills to help you become a more efficient hunter.

Product development: your chest, tools of the trade, and how to organize them

We work hard every day to build gear that will help you become a more efficient hunter. And to do that, we always ponder a couple of "big questions".

Big questions are challenging to answer. But it's almost equally difficult to decide on the right questions. The best questions.

It's pure goldilocks.

Too narrow, and the answer won't be enough for a complete product. Too wide or high-level, and it's difficult to "answer" the question with a single or handful of products.

Right now, we focus on developing the ecosystem around our bino caddy. And the working question has been "how to help you carry your essential hunting gear". 

And that's a pretty decent question.

But the other day, a conversation helped me upgrade that question. 

In a way that ties it together with a favorite LEAN tool, the 5S model.

5S stands for Sort, Straighten, Shine, Standardize and Sustain. And it's a process to help organize the work area.

And to us, that's as important in hunting as it is in a workshop. 

Granted, my workshop does not currently comply with 5S due to building projects, but that's another story.

The other day, I talked with one of the hunters who help with RedKettle R&D. 

He also happens to be a tier-1 operator, qualified to call in all sorts of nasty things on folks who decide to get into a firefight with him and his colleagues.

Now, I'd like to add that hunting and combat are entirely unrelated activities. But soldiers are heavy users of gear, and the military has a history of organizing and standardizing everything they do. So this field is an excellent source of inspiration.

Similarly, Charlie Munger from Berkshire Hathaway is not a deer hunting expert. But we can learn a hell of a lot from him when it comes to sharpening our mental game and our capacity for learning hunting knowledge and skills.

More on Charlie below.

Anyway, back to my conversation and the big question.

The guy I spoke with uses a multitude of gear to do his job. 

And he explained how, when it all goes down, he wants easy access to his essential tools. 

He wants to know where to find them, and he wants access with a minimum of movement.

"Elbows stuck to my sides" was the expression I believe he used.

He didn't say so specifically, but I'm guessing it's because he wants to be fast and doesn't want to be seen. 

Two things that apply directly to hunting.

And here comes the term that helped me upgrade our big question.

In our conversation, he referred to his chest rig as his workbench.

Yes. Workbench.

It's such a little nuance when it comes to wording. But the implications are significant. 

It says a whole lot about the mindset that will help you become more efficient. 

And what a great product must do to help you.

Firstly, you got to select the right tools. You need to know how to use them. 

Secondly, you need to be organized if you want to do a good job with minimum effort. 

And if you don't need a particular tool for a given project, you store it in a cupboard, on a wall, or in a drawer within adequate reach.

So, with that in mind, our new big question is this:

How do we build the perfect workbench for hunters?

We've added an extension.

How do we build the perfect workshop? 

Which refers to the gear you carry but don't need in a hurry.

We've got some prototypes in the works (modular utility belt) and more on the drawing board.

Over time, I'll share images or videos and maybe ask for your thoughts.

Efficient hunting and Charlie Munger

If we had a coin with three sides, the sides would say gear, knowledge, and skills.

Maybe it's not a coin, but a coat of arms with a Latin phrase.

Armorum, Scientia et. solers.

That's courtesy of Google translate. I have no idea if it's correct...

My point is that the gear we build can only be great if we understand your needs as a hunter.

Which includes developing our own hunting skills and knowledge.

My vehicle for that is my journey to become a more efficient hunter.

And the questions I ask myself to address specific issues I've encountered. Or mistakes I've made.

I referred to Charlie Munger above.

He's regarded as one of the great minds of our time.

And we can learn a great deal about learning and problem solving from him. Stuff that applies to hunting.

He gave a talk at the USC Business School in 1994. 

It was labeled "A Lesson on Elementary Worldly Wisdom" (

In this speech, he advocates for the use of mental models. To acquire new knowledge. And to understand and solve problems.

Not just a couple of models.

But a "latticework" of models.

When building my latticework of models for hunting, one of the challenges I wanted to address was over-trying.

It's counterintuitive that working harder will result in diminishing returns. Or even failure. 

But it's a real challenge when it comes to hunting.

I've written a blog post explaining why it's a problem.

And, more importantly, how you can deal with it.

Click here to read the post. And about the hunting Window of Opportunity.

image of the window of opportunity

I hope this newsletter gave you some food for thought. That will help you become a better hunter.

Please share it with other hunters if you think they can benefit.

And don't hesitate to ask if you have questions. And don't hold back if you'd like to share ideas of your own.

Thanks for your time.

All the best,