About a half a dozen times over the last 31 years, I have climbed up in a tree in a remote area and writen a column about what I saw over a period of about 20 hours. This week I did just that.
I drove over to the Durand area and canoed into some backwaters of the Chippewa River. I went looking for deer sign in an area that I have been to before, set up a portable deer stand and had a very cool experience being an observer.
I kept notes and that is how this week’s column was written.
Wednesday, July 29
High 80, low 50
Before I set up my stand, which would be in a birch tree on a natural funnel between a forest a marsh and a ridgeline, I put out two trail cameras and was pleasantly surprised when I observed a heck of a lot of deer sign.
Next, I made three trips from my canoe, to where I would put up my stand, and then hung my stand using climbing sticks. For food, I had carrots, green beans, an apple and a bottle of Gatorade.
On an experience like this, you have to think about the heat and the chill. I wore sandals and shorts to set up, and had lots of clothes for a long night of heavy dew, as the base of my tree was literally in water.
At 3:01 p.m. a large doe came down from the ridgeline, crossed the creek, and walked about 30 feet from me. she knew something was wrong.
At 4:45, I had a friend climbing my tree. It was a 4 ½-foot snake and it was amazing to watch how easily it could go straight up a tree. Fox snakes are good swimmers as well, and when my buddy saw me, which was just before I was about to give him a “get out of here” warning, he slowly eased his way back down the tree. It looked just like a rattle snake, and until I saw its tail, I had my concerns.
The marsh grass and brushy trees are so dense here that in many cases I do not see deer until they are within 30 yards. That was the case when a velvet-horned 5-point buck appeared out of nowhere directly below me at 6:17 p.m. What was really cool was that in every deer situation, I heard them in the water before I saw them.
There are hundreds of monarch butterflies for me to watch. I hate it when I hit them with my truck. Monarchs, are in my opinion, the ultimate survivor.
At 9:12 and 9:27 p.m. I had deer underneath my tree before I could see them, and in both cases, they were not happy with me and did their warning snorts for a good 5 minutes. Wanna be humbled by your quarry, have a deer tell the world that you are in the woods.
Here is where my intellectual level is a bit weak. I have pretty good clothing to stop the mosquitoes, and I also have bug spray. But because I am me, I decided not to use the spray, and after dark, they decided I should be dinner.
At 10:53 I had another deer directly below me. It knew something was wrong. Humbled again.
At 11:25 I had a mosquito crawl deep in my ear. I couldn’t squash it with my finger and I could feel every move it made. I took a soft branch from a leaf, went exploring, and I must have got it. Live bugs in the ear drum area are a challenge to ones sanity.
At 11:30 the coyotes were howling.
At 2:27 I saw my third falling star and would see one more. I was having a difficult time staying comfortable due to the dampness in the air, which is soaking my clothes. I put on my rain suit, which was no easy task in the dark on a deer stand. This move made the rest of my night much more comfortable.
At 3:30 the first sign of daylight was observed, and at this time the birds started singing. It would take about 2 hours for night to become day.
Something that amazed me was that I did not get tired. I stayed in the tree until 10 a.m., at which time I had been up for 27 hours, and by the time I got home, I had been awake for 33 hours.
This experience could be done by anyone, and let me tell you, if you pick the right place, it can be extremely interesting and a neat challenge.
I had so much time to think and observe that I realized exactly where I want to put my stand when I come back in two months with my compound bow.