Deer hunting usually means putting in some long hours in a deer stand. The birds and squirrels can keep your attention for a little while, and the deer will certainly pique your interest if they show up. But some days the deer just don't come - for whatever reason.
Those slow days give us time to let our minds wander and give us an opportunity to look at a little more of the world around us.
I've watched many sunrises and sunsets from a deer stand. I've listened to the world awaken and watched it go to sleep. Some days come so slowly and quietly that you hardly know it's happened; the light just sneaks in on us, and some days are ushered in with a light and glow that startles your senses. The birds are singing, the leaves are rustling, and the air is crisp and clear. The sky will be so blue that it almost hurts to look at it.
Just think of all the days that we can't remember and don't even notice. Why do we let the time slip by us like that?
I love to watch the light ease in from the east and illuminate the woods. It's surprising how much better you can see when you have good light, but our long days will pass with a certainty that the light will end, and the day will come to a close. Dusk will blur our vision, and the dark will hide the world from us again.
You don't have to be sitting in a deer stand to see the morning wake or marvel at a sunset, but would you take the time to really look if you were just standing at your kitchen window?
Deer stands are usually elevated. It gives the hunter a better view of his surroundings, and it serves as a safety factor with rifles in our flat country. Elevated stands will put the hunter above the deer's normal line of sight, and being elevated helps to keep your scent above any deer that might walk in close. Being elevated also gives us a different perspective on how we see the world.
We spend so much time looking at the world from about five feet. Fifteen or 20 feet higher makes a world of difference. From one of my deer stands, I can see down the rows of the bean field out to the county road. I can see the cars going by on their routine duties. I feel like a spy watching them. They don't even know I'm out there. Then I remember, I'm supposed to be looking for the deer.
There's a certain beauty looking on the world from above. Birds must know it, but how can they appreciate it, flying by so quickly? They are too nervous to perch and sit still for very long to take in the view. I guess eagles are an exception; they will perch on a tall snag and survey their domain for hours. Airplane pilots certainly get a good look from above, but I suspect they may get distracted just flying their planes. And they go too high anyway.
A deer stand is just about right. Not too high, and it doesn't move any more than the gentle sway of the wind. Most stands can offer a comfortable seat. I had an old office chair in one, but my hunting buddies threw it out. It squeaked too much. I don't surf the web, and I don't play computer games in the deer stand, but I do read sometimes. I have a small paperback book in my pack that I take with me. The book is an excellent collection of outdoor stories penned by different authors.
One of the stories was by Jim Corbett, a professional hunter in British Colonial India, back in the early 1900s. Jim Corbett hunted tigers - man-eating tigers. He was a great storyteller and wonderful writer. I had saved his story until I had a long afternoon to sit in one of our stands in a heavily wooded area. Corbett could take you into the darkened jungle with him and have you looking over your shoulder for man-eaters. I know there aren't any tigers in Clarendon County, but I walked out of those dark woods that evening with a chill and a shiver down my spine. You wouldn't have felt the same way reading that story at home.
I'm glad to have a deer stand where I can watch the world and let my mind wander on tigers and other things. I wonder how could you do it anywhere else?