I’ve always been a climber man. This is mostly because I don’t own very much of anything, including land or the money it takes to lease land. I recently met a guy who leases a 1,000-acre farm on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
“It’s ten grand, which is the going rate for good deer land over there,” he said. “But I’m splitting it with another guy.”
Really? So you got a deal and are only paying $5,000 to hunt deer? For that kind of dough, I’d want to be stalking a revived mastodon in a climate-controlled rain forest with three professional guides backing me up.
But despite being a climber man, and because deer—small ones, it seems—occasionally pass through the sliver of woods behind my house, I just put up a hang-on stand for the first time. I had two different brands of connecting climbing sticks—five sections in all—that I persuaded to cooperate by means of an impact hammer and lots of profanity. Attaching them to the tree required five wretched, sorry, ratchet straps, plus two more for the treestand itself. In just four hours, I had everything done.
When I finally got up into my new stand, however, I realized several things. One was that I’d picked the wrong tree. I hadn’t wanted to set up too close to the faint trail on which small deer occasionally pass. So I did the sensible thing and set up too far away. My closest shot is 30 yards. I also remembered why I had the stand in the first place: because nobody else wanted it. This is because its folding seat has a bar near the front that cuts off the blood to your legs after about 15 minutes. It’s astonishingly uncomfortable. By the time you need to stand and turn for a shot, your legs are about as useful as soda straws.
Oh, and also I somehow selected the springiest tulip poplar on Earth. Like most of its kind, it has the virtues of being straight and limbless, which make for easy installation of connecting climbing sticks. But even when there is no wind, this particular trees sways like a chorus of child actors singing “We Are the World.”
I’m leaving it be. It’s the rut. I don’t have two hours to take it down and another four to move it. On the plus side, I didn’t spend five grand on it.