In Praise of Stand Hunters

Suffering through endless attacks by hordes of blood-crazed insects and ticks, one more hour, and then another, and then another of motion sickness in a wind tossed tree stand, soaked clothing, shivering and frozen noses, fingers and toes in winter, urinary bladder and intestinal distress, muscles and joints aching for relief, thirst, hunger, incredible boredom, withering patience and a growing danger of falling asleep sixteen feet above the ground are characteristic of just another ordinary day of stand hunting. The amazing thing is, millions of American deer hunters talk about it as if they have been having the time of their lives and can’t wait to do it again.

When I began hunting deer in 1945, standard hunting clothing included cotton or itchy wool long underwear and socks that refused to dry after being soaked by perspiration, wet snow or rain and laced up leather boots that wouldn’t dry until a week or so after a hunting season ended. Our red or buffalo plaid heavy wool outer clothing became water logged and heavier and heavier because of the same refusal to dry, making stand hunting in winter weather a form of hunting during which a hunter could not bear to remain in one place very long.

To an inexperienced hunter or non-hunter today, recent inovations such wicking and quick-drying polypropylene underwear and socks, synthetic insulation and lightweight waterproof fabrics in outer clothing and boots plus padded seats on portable tree stands with railings might make it seem as if stand hunting has become akin to lounging in complete comfort on a featherbed. It ain’t so. A stand hunter today must still be a special breed of hunter, necessarily tough and enduring mentally and physically, able to endure anything nature unleashes during a half or entire day of hunting, ever determined  to finally outfox a cunning mossy-horned buck.

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