A Day in the Tree!

IMG_20131209_153130_856Deer hunting changes with the seasons and locations. After years of long distant shooting and stalking “whiteys and Mulies” in Montana, I returned to Maryland this fall and enjoyed hunting from a tree stand.

Hunting in tree stands is a huge advantage for the hunter. A deer’s vision tends to be more horizon to horizon than vertically up and down. Normally deer do not look up unless they smell scent, hear a sound or see movement.

Getting up in the morning has always been a challenge for me. One of my buddies always brings up how “I am so fond of the covers.” Once up, I love to watch the sunrise. Mornings and sunsets are special. This is also the time when deer are most active. So, I tough it out and get my Butt up into the tree.

Using a green or blue light allows me to see in the woods without the deer seeing me. Humans can see colors but we do not have great night vision. Deer see primarily black and white but have excellent night vision. Once in the stand, it is time to get comfortable and ready for action. Try to move as little as possible. Most of the hunting happens before you even see the deer. The morning and evenings are best since deer seem to be most active.

As I watched the sunrise on this snowy morning, I saw 2 does slipping into a creekside bottom. This property supports monster deer so I would let them pass. Soon I saw a high 8 pointer slipping into the bedding site near my stand. I used my binoculars to look at this new visitor to my stand site. He was nice but smaller than what I was looking for.

My toes are chilly so a little wiggling helps. The quad parka is keeping me warm and toasty. I cleaned my shooting glasses to assure clearer vision. Wearing clothes in layers is a great way to not be too cold or hot. Simply add or remove a layer as needed.

Next a red fox slipped past looking for a meal. Several birds kept me company landing on my arm and stand. A red Cardinal landed on a branch nearby. Squirrels ran around as they searched for food and company. I am always amazed how a little squirrel can sound like an elephant when running through the forest.

Suddenly I saw a slight movement to my left. Several does were coming my way. Behind them, 4 small bucks were acting like cowboys keeping their potential mates close and ready for attention. One buck was an 8 pointer with broken tines. Now I was waiting for the buck that did that damage.

Sitting alone and quietly allows us to think. I was thinking about anything and everything. You consider life’s current concerns and old memories. I tend to re-analyze old and new choices. You tend to think about all of life’s” woulda, coulda, and shoulda’s.” We all need to self- assess sometimes while passing time.

I hear a stick crack and see movement. There at 20 yards stands a buck. This young 6 pointer could be a real trophy next year. There is so much to learn by simply watching deer behavior. Suddenly, the young buck raises his head and is gone. A bigger buck has entered the picture. He is close but not close enough for a safe and ethical shot. 3 does get his attention and off he trots.

Tree Stand Hunting requires a ton of skill and patience. Self- discipline is a must. The placement of the tree stand is vital to success. Tactics, wind, sign and timing are essential for success. As a “Science Guy”, I enjoy researching the area and setting up for a great day of ambushing deer.

I see movement to my right near a powerline. A single buck is heading in my direction. He looks good and I am ready to shoot. If he just takes one more step…. Several does slip nearby and get the bucks attention. Off they run and no shot is made.

Safe tree stands are cheap and easy to use. Years ago we built rickety wooden stands that would ruin the trees and were always in need of repair. Hang on stands with screw in steps along with climbers became the trend for awhile. Personally, the leaning metal ladder stands are the best. These stands are easily and safely attached to a tree with a ratchet strap and support pole. Some stands even have a safety rail and shooting bar. Even Big Boys like me can easily climb into these sturdy, comfortable and safe hunting spots.

A flock of geese is honking past as a nearby gunshot echos through the forest. At least some hunter was getting some action.

It is hard to sit still when hunting from a tree. Great clothing is a must. Warm, dry and comfortable is the recipe for success. Keeping your fingers and toes warm is vital. Disposable hand warmers help keep to off the chill. Don’t scrimp on your gloves and socks. I still employ scent reduction techniques to my clothing.

It is time for a snack. I have a can of” Beanie Weanies”. I eat each “bean and weanie” slowly and with as little movement as possible. Years ago I was given a can of this “bean bonanza” and it led to good luck. A couple Hershey buds and I’m again fueled and ready for action.

The sun is going down and magic time is coming. I use my binoculars and see several does deep in the woods across the power line. A “hammer Buck” is chasing them around. They are getting closer but light is going down fast.

 

Using my range finder, I can measure the shooting distance at 178 yards. I am comfortable shooting my slug gun out to 130 yards. They are coming closer. Some of the does are in range. The buck is roaming nearer and farther as he chases his girlfriends across the powerline. The sun is going down and the moon is rising. Just a few more yards…

Time is up. It is past legal shooting time and I will need to climb out of the treestand without filling my tag. Despite the lack of a deer, I did solve most of life’s problems and planned for new hunts and adventures. I got into the tree stand at 6:00am and here it is 5:30 already. Time sure flies when you are having fun. Where did the time go? What another great day!

Montana Grant