By Jud Easterwood, Wildlife Biologist, Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries
There you are…spending hour upon hour perched high in your treestand. The woods are completely quiet and still. These are the times you long for during hectic workdays. While hoping to see that special deer you can also unwind, sort your thoughts, and simply enjoy peace and quiet. This is what deer hunting is all about, right?
Well, maybe…unless you like to multi-task while in the woods – not the kind of stressful multi-tasking you do everyday in your job, but the kind that results in stress relief. While spending countless hours in the deer stand on those quiet days (especially when deer are not moving), there are several other relaxing activities that can be enjoyed at the same time. Following are a few suggestions to consider:
Photography – How many times have you observed an indescribable sight while sitting motionless in the treestand? A sharp-shinned hawk lighting 10 feet away or, perhaps, an inquisitive fox squirrel climbing the tree to examine your stand merely inches from your feet, or maybe the natural beauty created by a rare Alabama snow event. All of these would make incredible photos and serve as great mementos of your days in the woods. With technological advancements in digital cameras, packing a really small yet powerful camera is easier than ever.
Birdwatching – Many species of birds can be observed while deer hunting. In one morning you might see yellow-bellied sapsuckers, red-bellied woodpeckers, pileated woodpeckers, white-breasted nuthatches, wood thrushes, American robins, blue jays, crows, red-tailed hawks, Cooper’s hawks, great blue herons, wood ducks, and countless other species. Some of the smaller birds, such as the sparrows and warblers, are tougher to identify without the aid of a field guide. Because they are usually small, bird identification field guides fit easily in your daypack and make bird watching while in the deer stand fun and informative.
Reading – With life becoming more hectic by the minute, idle times to read novels, outdoor magazines or journals seem to be diminishing to the point of nonexistence. Making room for a book in your daypack is a simple way to catch up on your reading. Stopping between pages to scan the woods before slowly turning the page just might result in spotting that buck slipping through the woods.
Studying – Whether in high school or college, exams regularly compete with hunting. However, it is possible to get both the good grades and the big buck. In preparation for the hunt, go through your class notes and make index cards in a “question on front/answer on back” format. Very little motion is required to flip a note card and you can cover a lot of material during a five-hour hunt when the deer are not cooperating. Besides, there are no phones ringing (assuming you turn off your cell phone), no one stopping by for a visit, and the only interruption would be an approaching deer – which would be a welcomed distraction.
Maintain a Log Book – One of the best tools for success is knowing deer movement patterns on the property you are hunting. The best way to obtain this information is to document what you see during your hunts using a log book. A daily log book should contain stand location, date, time of hunt, number of deer observed, sex ratios, time of individual observations, temperature, estimated wind speed and direction, moon phase, and any other notable occurrences such as coyotes in area, dogs running deer, other hunters in the area, etc. Over the course of a couple of seasons, you can begin to see trends in deer movements correlating with certain weather or environmental conditions and use this information in planning future hunts.
No matter what other interests you enjoy, multi-tasking while hunting can prove to be one of the most rewarding ways to spend your time in the deer stand. For more information, contact Jud Easterwood, Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, 234 County Road 141, Hollywood, AL 35752.