Monday, December 27, 2010

Hunting science: The theory of comeuppance

When I blogged last week about how well I'd been doing lately in my duck hunting, it was actually part of a scientific study of the effects of hunter bragging on subsequent hunt success.

Hypothesis: The minute a hunter says out loud (literally, or figuratively, as in a weblog), that she has been hunting really well, the duck gods will smite her by reducing her success in subsequent hunts. Read more...
Study subject: Myself.

Control data: Over a period of three weeks, I'd brought home five to seven ducks per viable hunt day. (Note: "Viable hunt day" means there were enough ducks flying to make it possible to get that many ducks.)

Ensuing chronology:

Day 60 of the 2010-11 duck season: I blogged about said success.

Day 61: I proceeded to shoot like crap. Somehow I brought home three ducks. Two were spoonies. One of those was a team shooting effort.

Day 63: On Christmas Eve morning, my friend Dana, her husband Bill and I started our hunt in grand style: Two woodies came in, bang bang, I got 'em both. One more came in, bang, Dana got him.

That was it. Those were the only ducks that came within shooting range.

Interpretation No. 1 The Gods had forgiven me - I'd shot well with what I was given.

Interpretation No. 2: The Gods thought it would be funny to get me all excited at shoot time, then leave me hanging out there in the cold for the next six and a half hours watching videos on Dana's iPhone.

Day 64: Christmas Day. That vague funny tickle at the back of my throat became a full-fledged cold.

Interpretation: Definitely hunting gods.

Day 65: In the interest of not giving myself bronchitis, I bailed on hunting. No ducks at all.

Conclusion: Publicly acknowledging one's hunting success in any medium does, in fact, reduce hunting success.

OK, hunting gods, experiment over. Thanks for working with me! I plan to head out again on Wednesday, and I can assure you I'll do so with the utmost humility.

I promise!

© Holly A. Heyser 2010


Erik Jensen said...

Interp #3 Hunting is an uneven business...Twice in the last three years, I have seen bucks traveling with the wind, on super windy days. I bagged one of those bucks. I wouldn't have gone out if I hadn't already been up at camp, a couple hours from home. Animals follow patterns, but they are not machines. As one of my hunting partners says, "Erik, you are going to go out anyway, why do you obsess about the wind and weather before a planned trip ?"

Tovar said...

Interpretation #4: The hunting gods enjoy listening to hunters play head games with themselves. They really like it when they can provoke hunters into blogging about said head games.

Good luck Wednesday!

NorCal Cazadora said...

In all seriousness, I can't really complain. I was grateful to have gotten the two woodies Friday morning, and getting two or three ducks on any hunt day is always fine is always fine with me - I'm not spoiled into expecting limits every time just yet.

But Tovar, you underestimate the gods! I first learned of this phenomenon when I observed what happened several times when Hank declared halfway through a hunt, "I've killed every duck with one shot!" or "I've killed every bird I shot at!" Every single time, the streak ended after saying it out loud. In truth, it's well-known that you just don't make those declarations until the hunt is over - much like one never, EVER discusses a no-hitter in progress until the baseball game is over.

Erik, you're right, and the hunting on the day after I blogged was actually pretty slow (slower than people in the know predicted). But I was definitely shooting poorly that day, no doubt about it.

And where I hunt, shooting poorly has a high price: We're allowed to bring only 25 shells in the field. If you shoot well and there are lots of ducks, you can easily get your limit with that. But if you're shooting poorly, a bit of panic sets in, because you need your shooting to improve before you run out of shells.

David J Blackburn said...

I peeked at the summary in my reader, reduced the size of the browser and opened the whole article. Reading one line at a time.

Thank the Lord, she's writing about shootin' killin' and eating stuff!

devotedly yours,

NorCal Cazadora said...

Awwww, David, I'd warn ya if I were going to go there again!

Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

God, I love science! But I don't care what you say; the moment I *have* some hunting success, I'm shouting it from the rooftops.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Oh, Tamar, the hunting gods make exceptions for newbies, because your jubilation is without vanity or arrogance - it's the simply joy of any success you can get.

SimplyOutdoors said...

The hunting gods, I'm sure, are smiling right now as I write this.

That's Murphy's law, isn't it? I mean, you had to know that the minute you said something, your hunting luck would change. :)

Too funny.

I'm sure the mojo will come back. Don't worry.

Glen said...

I personally think it was a direct result of Monday's entry.....The hunting gods were traumatized. Then you come back on Tuesday and flaunt your perceived immunity??? What were they to do? You left them NO choice....You're playing with fire here Holly....Glad I'm not in your shoes, LOL!

Richard Mellott said...

I was grateful to hunt with Hank, and he did kill a duck with one shot. I was robbed by a zombie duck, but got a spoonie.
The superstition of knocking on wood is my favorite, because I almost always knock on my own forehead when I say it.
I'll catch you on the rebound, when the cold has subsided. Remember, it's the duck dance that actually needs to be performed, before success can be expected.