When the alarm goes off at five o’clock in the morning and the cold wind is blowing a light rain through the darkness, a person is tempted to turn over and go back to sleep. That is just not an option as it is time to get up and go hunting. Early morning choices need to be made. How many layers of clothes need to be worn to keep from freezing to death while sitting for hours in the stand. There is a fine line between not enough clothes and too many. Too many clothes mean working up a sweat as they walk to the stand which leaves a person wet and cold on the inside while getting wet and cold on the outside from the rain. Another choice is which stand to hunt. Most hunters place several stands prior to the hunt to take best advantage of wind direction and traffic patterns. This choice can be the difference between success and failure as compared to clothing decisions which only means comfort or day long misery.
Moving from the vehicle, parked some distance from the stand, into the timber, can at times be a challenge. Deer are more than likely nearby, and a person does not want to spook them. Ideally, a person can find their stand immediately without having to wander about for too long searching for the tree with the stand in it. It only takes a few minutes to climb up, get strapped in and pull up the bow and backpack. The wait begins. The time between settling into a tree stand and shooting light seems like an eternity. There just is not much to pass the time other than to sit quietly and think about how crazy you are to be high in a tree in the cold and rain. This is when I usually eat most of the food I have brought with me that is supposed to last all day.
As it begins to get light, things get more exciting. Animals start their daytime routine and provide entertainment that was lacking a few minutes before. Deer that were bedded down nearby and not spooked by a hunter’s arrival, get up from their bedding areas and mill about browsing on low hanging branches and brush beside the trails. This is when the pulse quickens. Two does with their fawns from last spring means bucks will be coming by to check them out. Fingers that were numb from being wet and cold are suddenly hot and sweaty. A look to the right reveals several turkeys walking down the Ranger trail. Looking back, the does and fawns had quietly disappeared. Things get quiet for a while giving the adrenaline generated perspiration a chance to cool and let the cold wet air soak in all the way to the bones.
Time passes and suddenly a buck appears as if by magic. It causes a person to wonder how he got there. There was nothing and then there was a deer. It is a young deer with a fairly nice set of antlers. The bow is slowly and carefully raised and aimed at his shoulder. He does not have a clue how much danger is only a few yards away. He would be good in the freezer but would also fill the only buck tag. A couple practice draws are made before the deer wanders off. The real shot will be saved for the big one.
Throughout the day, more deer file well within range but not the big one that will hang on the wall. Early in the season, a person can be choosy. Near the end, a person gets to be less concerned about the size of the rack and more about getting meat in the freezer. Any day a person can get out and watch nature all day while going unnoticed by the wildlife is a good day. It clears the mind and makes a person appreciate when they are not wet and cold.