There’s a reason why I spend countless hours in my treestand during deer season.
Sure, my main objective is to harvest a decent buck, but there is a greater cause that motivates me to sit motionless in the confined space of a treestand for hours on end.
In my opinion, taking a seat is the best way to observe wildlife and the happenings of the natural world. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy walking through the woods and exploring as much as anything. But when one walks, it causes a disruption among all the wild creatures nearby. It doesn’t matter how careful each step is placed, wildlife always know you’re coming.
But when you sit elevated in a treestand, you blend in with the woods and your presence is less intrusive and harder to detect. During hunting season, I don’t want the deer to know I’m there and if I’m still and quiet enough, they usually don’t.
Nor does anything else that happens to pass nearby.
For me, deer season is as much about hunting as it is observing wildlife.
Granted, I do cause some disturbance while walking to my treestand in the early morning darkness. Leaves crunch, sticks break and a choice word or two may be muttered when a tree limb slaps my face.
But once I climb into my stand and settle in, order in the woods is restored. The disruption I caused begins to fade and, as the gray morning light slowly brightens the forest floor, the daily routines of wildlife return to normal.
I’ve enjoyed many memorable wildlife sightings from my treestand during deer season. This year I watched a black bear come crashing out of a stand of pines onto the hillside where I sat. The bruin stopped to survey the open timber, not so much with its eyes but rather by raising its muzzle up high to take in the scent of its surroundings. A bear’s sense of smell is more acute than its eyesight, and after this particular bruin’s nose told it everything was alright, it proceeded to shuffle by with a seemingly careless gait.
Another day I watched a flock of 18 turkeys walk single-file up the hill behind my stand. Unlike a bear, turkeys have remarkable eyesight and I sat still as the birds scanned the forest floor but didn’t bother to look up. As they walked, some of the turkeys paused to quickly scratch the leaf litter in search of a quick bite to eat — acorns, beech nuts and shriveled wild grapes were likely on the menu.
I chuckled as the flock, led by a couple of large hens, encountered a small, dead tree that had fallen but was hung up about two feet above the ground. Rather than duck under the tree, every turkey jumped onto the trunk and flapped off the other side.
From my treestand this year I listened to the unique ‘croak’ of a raven calling, watched a white-footed mouse scurry beneath the leaves, and stared into the eyes of a red-tailed hawk that mysteriously swooped down from the sky and landed in a nearby tree.
In years past I watched a red fox trot by, had a black-capped chickadee perch on the rail of my stand, and spied a fisher as it silently slinked across logs and rocks.
Of course there are plenty of deer sightings as well, though some years there are fewer. Still, while I wait for a nice buck I enjoy watching the interactions of an adult doe and her fawns, or a solo young buck that is still a bit careless in its young age.
Sure, deer season is all about the chance to harvest a nice buck. But while I wait for that opportunity to arise, there is still plenty to see from my seat in the treestand.