It’s quiet up here, some 14 feet off the ground. Tree pegs allowed me to scale the tree and strap a metal stand on its trunk. I am now secure with a safety strap around my waist just in case I doze off and tip over. It’s easy to fall asleep in a tree stand during this, archery season for deer. This may be the most-quiet place on Earth.
It’s hard to find a quiet place these days. Homes are filled with chatter, noises from appliances and the audio from a TV or radio. The office is certainly no place for a quiet moment with the hustle and bustle of business. But high in this tree stand it’s dead calm.
Dawn will come any minute and things will begin to stir. A flock of crows on a nearby ridge will strike up a conversation that only crows can understand. Then, a few small birds will begin their day. You can hear the vibration of their tiny wings as they scoot across the branches. Far away, a goose calls and close by you can hear the scratching of bark as a squirrel shimmies down in search of that special hickory nut. As the sunlight peeks over the horizon, the woods become alive again, but it’s still a place of peace and serenity.
The sound you most want to hear is a very subtle stir of the leaves; it’s the sound of a hoof making a single step, then another. You hear a sound to the side and turn your head slowly to investigate, but it is just a squirrel. He found that nut.
Now, it’s back to sitting and waiting and listening.
When a deer draws near, it’s usually a surprise. The animal just suddenly appears close by and you never heard it until it was there. It’s as if Scotty beamed him down to Earth. You’re thankful now to be in the tree stand, high enough that the animal can’t draw a nostril full of air and smell your scent. And high enough that its eyes won’t catch sight of a foreigner in its living room. They say, you know, that sneaking up on a deer is like trying to sneak out of the living room for a poker game with the boys while your wife is watching. It can’t be done, or rarely, at least.
The tree stand gives you some advantage, but one tiny movement or the nick of an arrow against the side of a bow can send the wary animal on its way. Odds are stacked against you, and more often than not you are unsuccessful when you hunt deer with a bow during archery season. But it depends on how you measure success.
If success means field-dressing a 120-pound animal and carting it home, you may or may not have succeeded. But if success is measured in being absorbed by the beauty of nature, witnessing a majestic sunrise and losing yourself in a world of silence, you have hit the jackpot.
Life in a tree stand is all that and more.
—Contact Jim Brewer at firstname.lastname@example.org
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