Ghosts In The Woods
I wander the wild on a daily basis. It’s just what I do. I fortunately carved out my ultimate American outdoor lifestyle Dream long, long ago to make sure I lived my life, liberty and pursuit of gonzo happiness with everything I got, and everything that God gave me, and the rewards are immeasurable.
My radar picks up on the smallest of surrounding detail as I cruise my sacred wildgrounds, and I see, hear, smell and feel new things each day that spark interest, intrigue, fascination, and wonderful memories.
There’s an old scrape there, a buckrub, a blowdown, deerbed, a new trail, turkey scratchings, a birdnest, some old bones, a shed antler, some feathers from an unlucky victim of a predator, and an endless plethora of earthly goodies that never fail to stimulate and educate me.
More and more lately I’ve been taking note of old, historical treestand remnants that bring a glowing smile to my face, for those old pieces of dilapidated, busted-up 2x4s hanging precariously from forked branches bring a flood of amazing forever moments strategizing to ambush a backstrapper.
It is important to note, that some of the oldest suicidal lumber nailed way up in the towering oaks was against the law back before 1975, when some numbnut, clueless bureaucrat dared to think they could have possibly had the authority over a free American when, if or how we climbed a tree.
That’s correct-elevated deerstands were illegal in Michigan before we straightened out these power abusing fools.
For the record, no man has authority over me when it comes to climbing a tree. Never has and never will. Case closed. I know some soulless sheep disagree, but that is their failings in the truth, logic, commonsense world of freedom, and I wish them goodluck.
Stop and ponder a moment if you will, those glorious lifetime moments of the past, season after season, vigil after vigil, that we have been so blessed to pursue and experience.
As I stop and gaze at these old stands, I smile and actually giggle to myself as visions of those long-ago wildlife encounters and so many deer encounters brighten my day, and re-ignite those magical moments of yore that brought me so much excitement, oftentimes frustration, but always extreme happiness.
I also chuckle at the earliest of those commercial treestand designs and how we survived that dangerous era!
That giant, ancient oak where I arrowed my first whitetail calls my name!
I stop and pause at Uncle John’s saddle and the tangle of brush that remains where we constructed his original brushpile hideaway way back in 1976.
There’s a single dangling 2×4 in the white oak where I missed a beautiful buck with all eight arrows from my Bear recurve bowquiver in ‘76! Ouch!
The winding west ridge deertrail is still there where I lucked out on a great 8 point in 1980.
Old George Nicholls somehow survived his bowhunting escapades in the makeshift platform in the small forked maple over the little creek.
My buddy Ward Parker arrowed his first whitetail from the duckpond hickory where we nailed a small wooden foothold.
It’s not just the memories that glow from these old stands, but when standing there at each one, I concentrate on my surroundings and swear to God I actually see the smiling faces of my family and friends that are associated with these special spots.
Thank God we don’t still nail such dangerous stands to trees anymore, having learned our lessons about safety and responsibility and celebrate how the industry responded with treestand and ladderstand development and upgrades for better and safer hunting.
Over these many hunting seasons, occasionally I found myself hurrying up and hustling to my daily chosen deerstand, but nowadays I discipline myself to plan ahead, slow down, and come to grips that a slower pace brings me a more peaceful, calmer, relaxing, gratifying, and more often than not, a more successful day afield when I stop to smell the roses, as the saying goes.
Our entire hunting gang are busy reviewing and tweaking our many deerstands this time of year, and stopping to take in the memories of the past brings a deeper sense of fulfillment, not only when on the hunting grounds, but in life overall.
Certainly, our next hunt is all important, but one thing I’ve learned over 65 plus deerseasons, we don’t always kill a deer, but we do always bring home wonderful memories of some of the best times life has to offer.
Many deer will get away from us each season. Do not let any of the memories get away from you! Venison is truly the ultimate rocketfuel for the body, but each and every memory is supreme rocketfuel for the soul. Fill up your spirit tank with every step beyond the pavement, You will be glad you did.