Though NOT the treestand from the Author’s childhood hunt, this reflects the architecture of his first ‘Aerie’ (15 Photos That Display the Mystery Behind Old Treestands)
As we rolled to a stop, my Dad carefully opened the door on his 1963 Chevy pickup. I slid across the smooth vinyl seat, under the steering wheel, and stepped through his door and into the darkness of the Texas Hill Country. My excitement this morning reflected three facts. First, I was hunting. Second, I was hunting Whitetail deer. Third, my Dad was taking me into a treestand for the very first time. I felt a thrill as I pondered this new adventure. I didn’t know it at the time, but I would come to love treestands.
There are a number of reasons for my feelings of affection for treestands. First and foremost, I love to hunt by ambush. And there is no better way to ambush than from above. It is often said that people who hunt well from stands have more patience than those who use stalking to pursue game. I don’t think this is correct. I am a poor still-hunter because it drives me crazy to walk slowly and stop often. In other words, I don’t possess the specific type of patience necessary for this form of hunting. Yet, I can sit relatively still in a treestand for 14 hours. I love to wait for and watch animals, both quarry and non-quarry. There is something incredibly fulfilling about overcoming the sharp senses of a wild animal so that they browse or bed almost under my stand. It takes skill and patience to be able to move like a wraith through the wild and thus sneak up on game. It takes the same qualities to discern where, when and why game have passed through an area, choose the ideal ambush point, and then wait for long hours.
On this particular December morning in Texas, I did not realize it, but this would begin my career as a stand hunter. I would sometimes use ground blinds, but I would always prefer an aerie. In retrospect, I suppose this morning’s effort could have put me off hunting from trees for life. That it actually wetted my desire to climb into trees again and again is a good indication of my inborn preference for this type of hunt. I cannot actually remember how tall the tree was that housed our stand. The fact that it was located near San Saba, Texas means that it was unlikely to be much over nine feet from earth, given the short stature of what passes for trees there. However, my eight-year old eyes turned it into a battlement that hovered at least three stories above the ground.
As we settled into the stand, I realized that there was one major problem that might become very evident if I had a chance to shoot at a deer. You see, if God had intended for hunters to sit in treestands in West Texas, He would have made the place a bit less windy. My Dad and I eased into the two folding chairs placed in the stand just as the tree shuddered from a fresh northerly gust. My panicked thought was something like “How am I going to hit anything the size of a deer’s lungs while swinging back-and-forth?” Unfortunately, I had a while to ponder this as we waited for shooting light. As the horizon lightened ever so slowly, I became more and more concerned. I was not the greatest marksman anyway, but the thought of trying to score from the equivalent of a flight simulator that is programmed for “severe thunderstorm”, had me shaking. I could visualize having to explain to my older brother how I had once again missed a deer from short range. I shuddered, but this time not because of the air movement.
Next Week: Treestand Affection – A Miracle Happens