Almy: Stay on the deer stand all day
Some hunters think staying put on their stand all day is a macho thing to do. Tough guys don’t have to take a break and stretch or go back to camp for a hot meal. And they definitely shouldn’t take a siesta during midday to recharge their batteries!
Years ago I met one of these types who told me he took 10 pieces of hard candy in his shirt pocket when he went to his stand to hunt deer. Each hour he would very slowly and very carefully place one lemon or raspberry drop in his mouth. That would be the only movement he would make for the 10-hour day. And that would be the only food he would eat.
I was young and naÃ¯ve at the time and I was in awe of his stamina, endurance and fortitude. But in later years I wondered whether I was being fed a line.
Staying on stand all day is admirable and a worthwhile endeavor in many deer hunting situations. After all, a good buck could walk by any time, or a doe if you’re just looking to fill the freezer with tasty meat and help balance the sex ratio. But I don’t think it would hurt to bring a sandwich or two to the stand or blind, or to get up and stretch a few times during the day. I’m flexible enough that even a one hour break back at camp could almost be considered staying put all day.
Staying on stand as much as you can, though, whether it’s all day, or two four-to-five hour sessions early and late, is certainly the best way to up your odds of harvesting a deer. Another hunter heading back to camp could roust out a buck from a thicket and run him past you. Or a doe in heat might wander past, enticing a buck to follow her.
A drive on a nearby property could also push a buck past your position. I’ve had this happen numerous times. Many hunters also feel that mature deer come to learn that most hunters are back at camp from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and adapt their schedules to move during those times.
There are several ways to help you stay put on stand all day, or as much of the day as you choose to. First of all, you need to go in with the right attitude. You need to have confidence in your location and feel that you’ve done sufficient scouting and research and put enough thought into choosing that spot.
It’s also important to bring or wear enough clothing so that you’ll stay warm and comfortable while not moving or generating any body heat from exercise. Don’t wear all of these as you walk in, or you may become sweaty. Carry them and put them on as you cool down and need them.
I also like to bring adequate food and drink so that I’m not hungry or thirsty. That means different things to different people. Just be sure to pack what keeps you satisfied.
Finally, don’t feel like you have to stay 100 percent immobile. It’s perfectly acceptable to stand up and stretch every hour or two, even get down and move around once to take a quick break. And while you’re watching, slowly moving your head from side to side is not only acceptable, it’s the best way to detect your quarry before it gets in range so you can start preparing for the shot before it sees you.
If you’re a young hunter, you may even want to play games, text, or read on your phone while you’re on stand. Personally, I do not do anything except watch the world of nature around me or occasionally close my eyes and let my thoughts wander. But as long as you don’t become so engrossed in your activities that you miss deer moving past, extra pastimes to help you stay put shouldn’t be ruled out.
In the end, it largely boils down to confidence. Believe in your spot, and you should be able to stay put.
On the other hand, if you find you can’t last all day, don’t risk your safety or try to tough it out to prove a point. Get down, take a break and enjoy this wonderful activity of hunting in a more relaxed manner. Good luck on the opener on Nov. 16.
Award-winning outdoors writer Gerald Almy is a Maurertown resident.