Thanks for your interest in efficient hunting.
On this page, you can download the one-pager.
And read more about how you use it to become a confident hunter.
The framework can help you in three main ways:
1. Give you a plan to get better if you're new to hunting
2. Help you prepare for a hunt to a new location
3. As a structure to integrate new gear, if you're obsessed with optimization like me
Below you can see an image of the framework.
And download it as a pdf.
I'll give you 10,000-foot summary.
And then go in to detail.
The efficient model has two central components.
- A process to help you describe how you hunt
- And a four-step plan to help you build up to a season, hunt, or outing
The process summarises what you'll do (strategy and tactics), the gear you need, and how you'll use it.
The EPiPHany loop (Experiment, Practice, Plan, Hunt) will help you develop the process, practice, make operational plans, and put it all to action.
And the page includes seven questions to help you consider key elements as you plan the four phases.
I'd like to share two hunting stories to illustrate the framework's value. And pinpoint some of the trouble it can help you avoid.
Let's set off to South Africa's Eastern Cape. And the first story.
A memorable mistake that puts the process into perspective.
The impala incident and how you benefit from using a hunting process
Imagine you've been hunting in the South African bushveld all morning. There's a distinct earthy smell in the air, and the landscape is draped in muted greens and browns.
You're a little over-gunned because you've decided to use the trip to familiarise yourself buffalo rifle.
Suddenly the tracker pauses in a way that you know he's seen something. And the PH shortly after. The needle on your excitement barometer moves quickly around to the right.
"There it is," you say to yourself as you spot the impala slowly walking through the bush no more than 80 yards/meters away.
Your PH has set the low sticks up, and you kneel down to get your sights on the target. "This isn't working," you say to yourself as you get ready. You don't feel comfortable on the sticks, but do your best to make things work. Because time is ticking.
You lean into the sticks and pull the trigger. Your .416 Rigby makes a heck of a racket. As you send the 400 grains softnose downrange. But when the dust has settled, the impala is nowhere to be seen.
The PH doesn't have to tell you you've missed. You already know it from the expression on his face. And a sinking feeling takes hold in your gut while you think to yourself what the hell went wrong. You've managed to shatter your self-image as an experienced hunter in a split second.
I hope you never get in that kind of situation.
It's not pleasant.
And I know it because it was me that day.
I made a fundamental mistake, even though I was an experienced hunter. Because I didn't ensure I was on top of the basics.
I went from "set up" to "shoot" before I had a stable position.
I probably also pulled the trigger. And the recoil from the heavy rifle amplified my mistakes.
And that's where the hunting process shines.
How you'll benefit from mapping a process for hunting
The process is a step-by-step approach to help you describe how you hunt.
And it's valuable, regardless of where you are on the competence curve.
A process helps you navigate hunting as a discipline. So you know what things to prioritize. And it also helps you learn faster by building connections in a hierarchy.
Here are a few other benefits:
- Everything you do is relevant - because the process will help you ensure everything you do and all the gear you use is in support of your objective
- You can hunt with a minimum of wasted time, effort, and money - because the process gives you a reference point for reducing waste and creating flow.
- Using your gear becomes second nature - Because the process gives you a structure to practice
- Hunting becomes intuitive - because the process is a framework that helps you observe and orient in a way that you read the situation in snapshots.
- You own the hunting situation - because you can focus on execution instead of dreaming about the outcome
Mapping the process is simple
You define the situation you're preparing for. So you're clear on the conditions you hunt in. Which include the animal, the area, and the weather.
With these three factors in mind, you can proceed to break your objective into phases.
You need to find the animal. And then kill it. If we spell it out in black and white.
How will you do that?
Your first choice is your overall strategy. What I refer to as hunting archetypes.
Will you ambush from a tree stand? Or stalk on foot?
Each choice will give you a set of pre-defined phrases.
And you can proceed to develop tactics for each step.
That's straightforward too.
You just what you intend to do. And continue to add detail in levels. Ask first what and then how. Until you end up with a plan and specific actions.
Next, you decide what tools you need. That's my term for gear. And it rhymes with tactics and techniques.
The difference between a toy and a tool is how well you can use it.
When you have settled on the tools you need, you define how you'll operate them.
Easy as that. The process is your execution plan your list of techniques is your training plan.
This is straightforward stuff. The challenge is respecting the work.
You need to lock things down. So you have plenty of time to practice.
I once failed to do that. And the result still bothers me.
Read what happened on a windy day in the Scottish highlands.
Gut shooting a red deer and the value of distinct build-up phases
Imagine spotting a group of red deer hinds in a valley on the edge of the yellow-green grassy hills.
You smile in anticipation as you see the stalk will be a belly crawl through the grass, water, and mud. That's exciting in a kind of childish way. A micro hunting adventure.
The seemingly flat ground is crisscrossed by small knolls and ditches that expose the peat that's black as night. And the odd roots from distant times. Wonder what those trees have seen?
The going is hard, and getting to a suitable position feels rewarding. The red deer hinds are within range. Suddenly it gets serious.
But the nagging doubts at the back of your mind suddenly take center place.
The wind felt strong earlier. What about now? Nah, it's probably ok. But what about the rifle? It seemed a little erratic when you zeroed it. Was it you? The load. Or do the rings or the bases need tightening?
As one of the hinds takes a step and stands broadside, you rush to get ready. You level the crosshairs and pull the trigger.
You hear the hollow sound of impact but curse yourself when you see the results.
A hunched up back and a few unsteady steps. The telltale signs of a gut-shot animal.
All the deer run around. Confused by the echo from the hill. Your mind is racing to find a solution. And the shame and frustration make your cold cheeks blush.
You're in luck.
The hind come towards you. And you can finish the job. When the hind pauses to orient.
The beast is on the ground, but it's not exactly a happy ending. Not when the feeling of failure will haunt you for months to come.
I hope you'll never have this kind of experience.
And I know it because it was me that day.
I'm still unsure what exactly went wrong.
In the open, there was a bit of wind. But by the hill, it was strong and significant. At roughly 175 yards/meters, it was enough to reduce my margin of error.
I had issues with the turrets. I think one was stuck. And jumped later when the rifle was fired.
And my mind was not focused on the task at hand. Too much noise from potential issues. I probably also pulled the shot.
I'll never know the exact detail.
The root cause, however, is clear.
I'd set myself up for failure
I'd bought a new rifle in 7x64. Which I'll get back to. And I was hellbent on bringing it on the trip. But it was hard to get components. And the load I had to settle on was sub-optimal. And I had time for little more than zeroing.
I wanted badly to bring a scope I could dial. Because I was blinded by long-range shooting. So I settled on an old one I'd had issues with. Ignoring warning signs for unnecessary features.
The value of distinct build-up phases was an epiphany. And that's why it's my acronym for Experiment, Practice, Plan, and Hunt.
The four phases I chose to ignore.
Set yourself up for success in the field - Experiment, Practice, Plan, and Hunt
EPiPhany is the overall plan you follow to build up to a season, hunt, or outing.
Adhering to distinct phases means you lock things down before you move on. So you build on a solid foundation.
That moment, on the grassy knoll, my mind should have been on autopilot. Instead, it was racing and occupied with waste. Which got in the way of good execution.
Respect the phases of the EPiPHany loop. And you have a clear mind in the moment of truth.
And the mental capacity to run through your checklists. And process the data that matters.
I would have been familiar with my new rifle.
I would have observed the wind.
I would have been calm when pulling the trigger.
Your working memory only has four slots. EPiPHany will help you ensure they're free for the data and decisions that matter.
The EPiPHany loop is easy to use
In Experiment, you start broad, to experiment with optimal choices. But you must lock things down before you proceed so you build on a solid foundation.
In Practice, you train to make using your gear second nature.
And in Plan, you sort out logistics. To ensure you can get out and back. And that you're able to operate in the field.
Hunt is where you put it all to practice. The point at this stage is not to get your plan out. But refer to everything you've committed to memory. The objective is a clear mind, so you can read and react to what's going on in the field.
Along the way, you use the hunting process to capture your decisions. And guide your practice and planning.
Back to that 7x64.
It was never the rifle per se that was the problem. Even though I had a few adjustments to make.
I quickly integrated it into my routines with a new scope on top.
Which I should have done before setting off.
Imagine having that impala in your sights. Pulling the trigger and seeing it fall.
Imagine putting your crosshairs on that red deer hind. Pulling the trigger and seeing it fall.
And imagine the satisfaction of well-executed shots.
Jobs well done, because you had your house in order.
That's what efficient hunting is about.
More ideas for efficient hunting
And I hope the framework will help you.
But it's just the beginning.
Maybe you're just getting started. And need a plan to get better.
Perhaps you're a seasoned hunter who has booked a hunt. And feel like you've moved a few steps down the curve. Because you're faced with a new situation.
Or maybe you're just obsessed like me. And love optimizing your tactics, tools, and techniques. And want a framework to help you.
To help you, I send out regular updates in my Efficient Hunting Newsletter.
If you're interested, you can sign up by clicking below.
I want to help you become a better and more efficient hunter. By sharing my ideas and experiences.
And I've got more specific tools in the pipeline. Including a workbook with a step-by-step approach.
Just to be clear, I won't spam you with offers. If I have something relevant to share, I'll ask in advance if you're interested.
Thanks for your time, and happy hunting.
All the best,