The Journal Register (Medina, NY)

December 11, 2013

A Die-in-the-Wool Stump Sitter may be best deer hunting method

Medina Journal-Register

Medina Journal-Register — I have always been a basic “Stump Sitter” when it comes to deer hunting. When the legs were stronger, the art of still hunter (slowly and quietly slipping through the woods looking for a deer) was often used after the opening week of the deer season. It wasn’t always the most successful method in areas where there was high hunting pressure, but it taught me a lot about deer and often put venison in the freezer.

Driving deer to other hunters in your hunting party is another method that was done only later in the season when the deer were not moving much during daylight hours. I was never a fan of those big drives that involved high number of hunters. When I did any “pushing” it was usually my Dad and I, with me doing the “pushing.”

My other “pushing” buddy was a very close friend who often shared the outdoors with me. Herb was like a brother to me and we always seemed to be on the same brainwaves. More than once, one of us had been tracking a deer with the other trying to get ahead of it, before having it head off in a different direction than we had anticipated. The thought would be “wish I could let him know the deer has taken a different direction, so he could swing around that way.” Then, up ahead, a shot would ring out and usually “our” deer was down. We could never figure out what made the “watcher” circle around to the new direction of the deer; call it mental telepathy, I guess.

Today I’m only a “Stump Sitter,” as my legs don’t allow me to go romping around the hills. Actually, hunting from a tree stand or enclosed ground blind is probably the most successful method of bagging a deer anyways. Besides, neither of my old hunting buddies is still with me, as they have gone ahead to scout new hunting grounds.

So while putting in long hours, oftentimes the whole day, how is the time spent? Well, Mother Nature often provides interesting happenings in the woods. It may be a pair of squirrels chasing each other, or a red fox slipping by. Maybe a Barred Owl shows up and perches nearby and entertains you with quick and the almost complete swiveling of his head as he searches the forest floor for a mouse. Sometimes a Pileated Woodpecker is working a dead tree nearby, breaking the silence of the woods with his bill pounding the wood. Or maybe a deer you are not interested in taking shows up and, as my dad use to say, “warms you up.”

Oh yes, there are days or periods during a long watch where nothing is going on and it can get boring. I usually put a paperback book, something about the outdoors, in my backpack. It has a string looped through the middle of it so it can be hung close to my hands. A paragraph will be read and then a glance taken around the area. If a deer is spotted, the book can easily be let go and kept next to me without much movement or falling.

Other times I go into a “thinking mode.” It usually starts by looking around and seeing how the stand could be improved. There may be some branches that will need to be removed before next season. Or maybe the stand would be better if moved somewhat for next year.

Eventually the thoughts turn to past hunts. After all, isn’t that one of the reasons we hunt, to make memories? Thoughts of how and where the bigger bucks were gotten over the years always pop up. How that big 10-point just materialized out of the fog and there was only a split second to shoot. Or the eight-point that came tearing low and fast across the opening, chasing a doe, and was “dumped” with one quick shot just as he hit the edge of the woods. Then there was the nine-point that was missed on the first shot because of a limb but just stood there, allowing a well-placed second shot. Then there was the big nine-point with the bow that ...

But more than the thoughts of past deer taken, the thoughts of my two old hunting buddies pop up. They become sad thoughts, knowing that we can never again share the hunts. Then, the good thoughts about them take over, and it is a much better time. Past successful hunts, funny failures and mistakes make for the “good old days” we did have.

Even though my son doesn’t hunt anymore, I always get a smile on my face when I relive his first buck that came along, when I handed him my gun and he dropped it with a well-placed shot. The different deer he got after he was allowed to hunt on his own also make me proud. All those memories will be relived over and over until I die.

So the wait on watch can make for a long day. Many times it ends with a gift of a deer, but in between, there are many things to make the time go fast.

I usually provide a picture with my columns, but not this one. Use your own memories!

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