Do as I say, not as I do!
Every year I try to warn hunters to check their deer stands carefully before using them. You can get hurt in many ways, and deer stands account for the majority of hunting accidents every year.
A couple of weeks before season I checked all the bolts and nuts on my climbing stands, tested the plywood and canvass to make sure everything was strong, then hung them on the trees I usually hunt. I climbed up removing any new twigs that might be in my way and also made sure my shooting lanes were clear.
I then went to my tower stand and climbed it. The wind made it rock some so I went back down and made sure feet were tied down, and leveled them. I then went back up and checked for wasps, made sure the chair was in good shape and didn’t squeak when turned, and made sure I could still see the areas where I expected a deer to appear.
I went right by the box stand in the middle of my field several times but never stopped. I don’t hunt it until December, when deer are more likely to come to food plots after all acorns are gone, and where I expect to see does only.
The wind was so bad Saturday morning I decided to get in the box after all. When I got to it in the dark I shined my flashlight all around and spotted some old wasps nest. I cleared out spider webs with a stick and eased inside, checking under the chair and everywhere else I thought wasps might hide.
Wasps get off their nests and get in cracks in wood or under anything they can when it starts to get cold. They try to survive the winter that way. But on a warm day they will get active during the winter. I had a very bad experience many years ago that has made me paranoid about them.
Uncle Adron took me hunting when I was about 19 and told me to climb up in a tower stand on an old fire break. It was a fairly warm afternoon and I was almost sweating when I got to the top and settled in the chair.
There was carpet on the floor to dampen any sound. For some reason I moved a piece of it in the corner. There was a solid red mass slowly moving under it. I swear it looked like thousands of wasps!
I carefully lowered the carpet and didn’t move. No wasps came out from under it so I stayed put, too. I have no idea if a deer came by that afternoon since all my attention was on that carpet all afternoon!
Saturday morning as it got barely light enough to see there was something dark crawling on my thigh. I knew immediately it was a wasps and thumped off. When I turned on my flashlight to kill it there were about six crawling on the floor and walls. It was too cool for them to fly or move very fast. I killed all of them.
I kept checking as it got lighter and lighter and saw no more. But at about 9:00 I felt something crawling on the back of my neck. I knew it was a wasps and did not want to hit at it, but was afraid it would crawl down under my shirt.
When I tried to brush it off I could feel a very light sting. I killed it and stayed in the box another hour without seeing any more wasps. When I got home I ask Linda to check my neck. There was a small red spot she touched but it was not where I had felt the sting, it was right on the scar tissue from my surgery.
The next morning my neck was swollen in two places, the one where I felt the sting and the one on my scar. I guess there are no nerves in the scar tissue to let me feel the pain.
I have heard stories of folks being in stands way up trees on in towers when they woke up a snake. So far I have not had that problem. But I did almost have to heart attacks one morning while deer hunting.
My stand was on the far side of a clear cut that had grown up with weeds about knee high. I was walking across it before daylight with my 30-30 on my back, shining my flashlight on the ground to stay on the path. As I made a step a covey of quail flushed beside my foot.
I guess it was a good thing my gun was on my back or I probably would have emptied it at the unknown critter. It is unreal how much noise a covey of quail flushing from under your feet in the dark make! I stood there a few minutes and my heart finally returned almost to normal, and I realized it had been quail.
About ten steps later another covey of quail flushed. That almost did me in. I don’t know how long I stood still breathing deeply, trying to recover my wits. I was afraid to take another step in case I found another covey!
I finally made it to the tree and climbed it and settled down. I don’t think I saw a deer that day. I may have been shaking so hard the tree was trembling all morning, scaring the deer away.
Sometimes the most memorable things about a deer hunt have nothing to do with deer.