Back when I began hunting whitetails at age ten, stand hunters were commonly called “stump sitters.” Tree stand hunting was unknown then. After fifteen years of being a member of a gang that only made drives, rarely taking bucks older than yearlings, I finally became serious about stump (log) sitting, after which I finally began taking mature bucks. In the 1960s, long before tree stand hunting became known, I began studying and hunting deer from primitive platforms nailed to trees six feet above the ground. After that, tree stand hunting was my favorite hunting method until the late 1980s, then the favorite hunting method of deer hunters all over America, At that time, however, it was becoming obvious mature bucks were learning to identify avoid hunters in trees. For this reason, I then began experimenting with stump sitting again. Real stumps being damp and uncomfortable and rarely located where I wanted to sit, I began using a homemade folding stool with a camo fabric seat, oak frame and shoulder straps, calling it a “portable stump.” The advantages provided by a portable stump, the basic tool for this most simple form of mature-buck-effective stand hunting, are amazing. The following is one of many tales I have written for outdoor magazines) about how my portable stump has provided me with great buck hunting.
It was 5 AM, pitch dark, when I arrived at the spot where I planned to turn straight east a mile north of camp, about another mile northwest of where I planned to sit. The ground level stand site I had in mind was a clump of 4-foot oak saplings with retained leaves beneath a scrubby red oak on a slope overlooking a deer trail discovered while scouting three weeks earlier. Coursing between a large hill west of that tree and a beaver pond east of it, this well-worn trail was full of fresh and old tracks and droppings made by at least two different mature bucks plus several regularly renewed ground scrapes.
The unaltered series of deer trails I planned to use to get there from downwind, illuminated by my flashlight, crossed a saddle near the south end of a high ridge and then dipped down through a low browse area much visited by whitetails during past hunting seasons. From there I followed a familiar, moss-covered deer trail through scattered spruces to the northern tip of a white granite slab of rock more than a quarter-mile long. My intended stand site was at the south end. When I halted there to decide whether I should proceed across that opening or head southeast to a deer trail that curved toward my stand site through dense brush and tall quaking aspens, a yearling doe trotted past without haste ahead of me, tail down, made barely visible by the narrow glow beginning to widen along the eastern horizon, and disappeared into a stand of young aspens on my left.
Deer obviously being in the vicinity, I decided to use the trail coursing through the tall aspens. Shortly before finding it, however, I came across a patch of snow about 20 feet in diameter where two mature bucks had obviously battled a short time earlier. Now anxious to get to my stand site as soon as possible, I proceeded at a steady pace into the wind along that deer trail, keeping my head pointed straight ahead (in case any deer along the way were watching me) until about 100 feet east of where I planned to sit. There I halted again upon discovering another heavily tracked patch of snow where the two bucks had obviously battled a very short time earlier. The smell of buck musk was still strong there. About 20 feet to the right of the site of this battle I noticed a splash of black dirt scattered across the snow. Upon taking a few steps nearer, it became obvious it was a very recently renewed ground scrape, surely made by a dominant breeding buck, November breeding being in progress. The scrape was more than four feet in diameter and an overhanging bough of an adjacent black spruce was well mangled, pieces of it scattered across the scrape.
Now excited, I then backed carefully away downwind, soon spotting what appeared to be an appropriate spot to place my stool. After tiptoeing through a dense patch of 4-foot-tall mountain maples, managing to avoid making any discernable sounds, I sat down on my stool with my back against the rough bark of the 2-foot-wide trunk of an ancient aspen and pulled my camo headnet down over my face.
Thirty minutes later, then fully light, I was suddenly astonished to see of the head of an 8-point buck with wide antlers facing me, intently rubbing scalp musk on that ravaged spruce bough only 25 yards away. While slowly leaning to my right, I finally found a narrow, clear opening to the center of the buck’s throat patch and squeezed my trigger. After waiting about five minutes, hearing nothing, I anxiously arose and pushed through the mountain maples toward the scrape. There it was: a beautiful 8-pointer lying motionless across the scrape (see photo above).
There is much to learn about portable stump hunting, the simplest form of mature-buck-effective stand hunting. Learn it all in my newly published Whitetail Hunters Almanac, 10th Edition.