Deer season is about halfway through, and by this time, many hunters are getting excited, as they plan to target the peak of mating season to fill their tags. But for some, not even the increased movement by deer looking for love is enough to convince them that their time is being well spent.
To those frustrated hunters, boredom has set in.
Last week, we asked BDN readers what they did to combat that tree-stand malaise.
As it turns out, the readers who take books or e-readers afield didn’t share their stories. Neither did those who fire up their smartphones and send texts to all their buddies. Instead, we received some responses that were so thoughtful, they’re practically poetry. One reader actually included some poems — which she wrote while in her treestand, then sent to her mom — for our consideration.
And all said they focus on the things that were going on, rather than on things that weren’t.
Here, edited for space and clarity, are a few of those responses.
From Sue Shaw of Penobscot: My autumns these days are filled with other things, but from about 1977 to 2004, I was out every possible moment, usually in October with my bow and then switching to a rifle when guns came on. I hunted only from my tree stands, and there was very little I loved more than being up in a tree in the fall. I had several stands, but my favorite was on the side of a hill overlooking Penobscot Bay so that I could see the hills of Camden and the Fort Point Light and hear the train whistle in the evening coming from around Frankfort. In October, the colors were magical, and it was so wonderful to watch the vista open up as the season wore on and the leaves dropped.
The vast majority of those days were before cellphones were standard equipment for survival, so I carried a small cigarette-pack-sized spiral notebook and a pen. No technology … just small books of lined paper to capture thoughts and impressions! I used the little notebook to write “Field Notes” to my Mom in Indiana. Every time I was out, I would scribble, trying to capture images with words (no digital cameras, remember!), and usually write at least one poem. I would date the pages, and every few days I would tear them out, put them in an envelope and mail them to Mom … There was always something to share, and even though Mom is gone now, she saved them all, so now I can look back and share it all with her again!
I am copying a few of the poems I sent her just for your entertainment. Not too good, but they passed the time.
Here’s Shaw’s first field note of 1994, which she sent to her mom:
Now come the days of scribbled lines —
From high in a maple or under pines —
Paper smudged and torn and tattered,
By drizzle, sleet and snow it’s spattered.
Lines that are written while the wind is blowing,
And the sun is rising and the trees are glowing.
Lines that are written while the bay’s ‘a glimmer,
And the poplar leaves all dance and shimmer.
Lines written beneath a cold crisp sky,
… as the ravens call and the geese say “Hi.”
From Dale Morse, formerly of Brewer, now living in Eighty Four, Pennsylvania: Where I hunt here in southwestern Pennsylvania is on a friend’s property. It is at a location where cellphone signals are low. One of the stands that I hunt out of is an 8×8 boxed-in stand with an outside staircase, a metal roof and horizontal sliding windows on all sides. It is held up by four old telephone poles. The hunters in camp have named it The Condo.
The condo is where I like to bring [my grandsons] and my wife to hunt. We will go hunting in the middle of the week when most all of the other hunters are gone. There is plenty of deer and turkey, and we hunt out of the rain, snow and wind. The boys usually have a sporting book to read and plenty of Grammy’s snacks and lunch to boot. My wife and I try to instill paying attention to the surroundings and ask the boys to do so.
If we spot game, my wife and I will try and wait until one of the boys sees it. They always get a kick out of spotting game before us, so it is kind of a game, and they are into it. I will query them on what they saw first — a shadowy movement, a leg, a head, a wag of a tail. Then we will put our binoculars on the animal, if it is a buck, does it qualify as a shooter? If a turkey, what gender and why? When the animal comes closer we do the yardage game: Is it 50 yards? 40? 30? Then, where on the body do you shoot it and why. We strongly tell them this is the place for viewing, listening, harvesting game. Playing games on the tablets is for home. They have come to agree.
From Gary Conrad of Bar Harbor: Your BDN article about patience while deer hunting activated lots of fun memories of growing up deer hunting in the Adirondack Mountains in New York. My parents both deer hunted and always took me along, even as an infant, so I could experience the woods. I found that I loved the scents and sounds of fall and gradually figured out how to stay warm while standing beside a tree in the snow.
We also learned how to only move our eyes and toes, but not our heads or arms, making us less likely to be seen by deer. I found that I was fascinated by seeing all the colorful little plants, mosses, ferns, lichens and mold/fungi, as well as the worms, slugs and bugs, even on the snow.
Result: I became a biologist, getting a Ph.D. in developmental biology/embryology because I enjoyed watching things grow. That career choice never would have happened if my parents had not taught me how to hunt deer. I also learned to hunt deer with bow and arrow, allowing me to be in the woods for two gloriously quiet weeks before gun season (and snow) began each year.