I had a good day making ready for the upcoming upland game bird and whitetail deer seasons. My day started with me meeting my friend and hunting buddy Mike at the farm near Spencerville, where I hunt upland game birds and deer. The objectives today were to relocate my deer stand, check conditions at the farm for grouse and woodcock season, and to look for a sign that deer are moving in the area around the deer stands set up on the farm. I arrived at the farm at about 8:40 am. Mike arrived just after 9:00 am. Mike brought his chainsaw and the tools he needed to free my deer stand from the tree it is mounted on so that we could move the stand to its new location. Mike and I found a spot last season we thought offered a better view of the ridge in the wooded area I watch for deer. We marked the tree the previous season to which we intended to move my deer stand. We loaded Mike’s chainsaw and tools into the back of my Jeep and set out to check out the trail that leads to my deer stand.
As I drove along the trail, I took my time. The grass grew tall this year, and I had trouble seeing the familiar path that is the trail we take to reach the deer stands. We reached the parking spot–a space between two fields with a land bridge over a culvert between the fields. There is an old apple tree that marks the spot. I am pleased to find this year that the apple tree is laden with fruit. Not only that but deer are feeding on the apples and bedding beneath the apple tree. There is also a well-worn trail left by the deer that takes them past Fran’s deer stand. The old apple tree is laden with fruit, and the deer are coming to feed.
As Mike and I made our way across the meadow to reach my deer stand, we found more deer trails and fresh dung in sight of Omer’s deer stand. It was from Omer’s deer stand that the two deer taken on the farm were shot last season. Omer bagged a nice doe on opening afternoon, and Jason took a 6 point buck at the end of the rifle season.
Alas, Mike and I found an active nest of yellow jackets in the meadow, right on the path we take getting to and from three of our deer stands. Wasps are a hazard for hunters and non-hunters alike in the outdoors. Finding the wasp nest in the meadow this morning made me recall the opening day of duck season I had back when I was at university. It was in 1982 if memory serves. My dad and I went to a beaver pond in the Marlborough Forest in hopes of getting some mallard and wood ducks on opening day. We found two hunters got there ahead of us, so we moved to another spot on the pond. I gingerly waded out to an old beaver lodge with my shotgun in hand. When I climbed up onto the beaver lodge, I got swarmed by angry wasps who built their nest in the beaver lodge. Just as the swarm of wasps attacked, the other hunters fired a salvo–sending shot raining down on me. I would wonder to this day if the other hunters thought my screams were because of their shot falling on me when it was the stinging wasps that were to blame. Rest assured, Mike, and I will neutralize the threat the wasp nest poses next weekend when we kickoff grouse and woodcock season.
With the location of the wasp nest noted, Mike and I walked up to my deer stand. My deer stand is fastened to a tree at the corner of a stand of pines. From my deer stand, I have a good view of the hardwoods and cedar that grow next to the pines. There is a ridge the deer often use when they cross the farm on their way to the corn and bean fields they browse. Our plan changed after Mike, and I found the tree we selected last season for the new site for my deer stand. We surveyed the area surrounding the tree; this time, with leaves still on the deciduous trees. After taking a second look, the new site did not look that much better than the current position of my deer stand. We talked it over and decided to leave my deer stand in its current spot. Instead of moving the deer stand, we decided to adjust it on the tree–moving the deer stand a little to the left. As we walked back to my deer stand, I spied fresh deer droppings on the ground in front of my deer stand–all the more reason to keep my deer stand where it is.
It took Mike a few minutes to unfasten my deer stand from the tree, and together we shifted the deer stand to the left. Mike fastened the stand to the tree in its new configuration, and I climbed up to check out the view. From the new vantage, I can see the ridge in the hardwoods and into the pines. As I shoot from my left shoulder, I will have an easier time raising the rifle, taking aim, and squeezing off a shot at any deer that come into view. As I sat in my deer stand, Mike got to work with his chainsaw. He cleared a couple of shooting lanes for me. In doing so, he took care to look for dead and mature trees nearing the end of their days. Mike and I do our best not to depredate wildlife habitat.
With our mission accomplished, Mike and I made our way back to my Jeep. On the way, we made plans to return for the opening of the grouse and woodcock seasons on the 15th of September. It is a Sunday morning. As we worked on setting up my deer stand, I noticed that the ground is soft and damp; this is a good sign. Rain is in the forecast for the week ahead, also. I hope so. The past couple of seasons the lowland bogs the woodcock frequent were dry and the ground too hard for the woodcock to probe for the earthworms they eat. Fingers crossed that this season the bogs will be wet and we will get into appreciable numbers of birds. We will be out in the field with our dogs come Sunday morning, and we will see what fortune brings.
Posted by Geoffrey