At Hunt Science, we love new research into wildlife behavior or hunting techniques. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation out there. Studies regarding wildlife and hunting often get misrepresented, even by well known hunting publications. Our primary goal is to dive into the world of research and get at what the studies are telling us. We want to give you the tools to be the most effective hunter out there.
How is our process different?
We have exclusive access to some of the best conservation research publications in the world. These publications are what drive the policies that shape the hunting community. These publications include The Journal of Wildlife Management, PLOS One, The Journal of Nature, and the Journal of Wildlife Biology among many others. These journals are among the most respected in the scientific world.
Unfortunately, they are often written in an incredibly boring and confusing manner, which often leads to misinterpretation and buzz feed-style click bait in the main stream media. This is a shame, but lucky for you, we love reading these boring publications and reporting the facts.
How can we tell a good study from a bad one?
There are a lot of bad studies out there, but more so, it seems studies often don’t make clear what their methods or results are. The primary issue within the science world regarding good research is the BIG difference between correlation and causation.
A correlation is a connection between two things. For example I used Google Trends to compare the instances of UFO sightings with the FLU virus over the last year. What you will see is a trend between the two trends that represents a connection. But the relationship ends there, because there is no causal relationship between the two. UFO’s are not causing the FLU virus to spread.
Causation is a more complex relationship, and this is what scientists are searching for. Is it coincidental that white-tailed deer change their behavior around opening day of rifle season? Or are hunters actually influencing a behavioral change? To get at this question, scientists cannot just rely on hunter observation, they must set up a rigorous study to determine the level of influence humans are having on wildlife.
To answer the question of whether hunters are influencing white-tailed deer, there are many different methods to use. The most basic of which could have been analyzing harvest statistics for a given region and comparing that with wildlife observation rates before and after hunting season. But this would be rough science at best, because it relies on reporting rates from hunters and hikers.
The best kind of study involves intensive analysis. Rigorous camera studies, GPS-collars, harvest statistics, hunter involvement, and so on. These represent good methods that taken together can answer the question of influence more accurately. We like robust methods and strong mathematical analysis.
The caveats of wildlife and conservation research
One of the biggest issues we have seen with wildlife research is taking a study out of context. Put simply, findings from a herd of mule deer in Idaho may not necessarily apply anywhere else. Science is complex and there are millions of factors to consider when studying animals in the wild. Nature is not a controlled environment and scientists do their best to single out factors leading to their conclusions, but it is always worth considering that the research may simple only apply to that area.
How can you trust us?
We hope that our straightforward presentation will guide you through our process. We only wish to present the best research and the details of each study, after which we provide our opinion of the study based on our experience in the science world. Is the study trying to say more than the facts allow? Has this study been misinterpreted in the media? We aim to set the record straight.
Hunt Science Team