I toss and turn at night, finally drift off to sleep and wake up frightened in a cold sweat. Lately, my mind has been troubled. This distress isn’t originating from my daughter’s college decisions, my upcoming 55th birthday or fear of the in-laws coming for a visit. It’s much more serious than that. The night terror’s source is the fear of picking the wrong treestand to sit in during opening day of archery deer hunting season in Georgia.
At the Foxworthy Farm, I have an overabundance of treestands to choose from. And because I pay the bills, the rest of the Foxworthy Outdoors crew graciously gives me the first pick of stand locations. This is a lot of pressure.
There’s the stand I hunted last year when I saw nothing. It’s on the edge of a beautifully manicured food plot that the groundskeepers of Augusta National golf course would be proud of. We have been getting good game cam photos, but so far all the big boys are showing at night.
There’s the stand where I saw a buck we call “Hammer” step out in broad daylight early in the season 2 years ago. He was only 3 1/2 that year so I let him walk. If he’s a creature of habit and shows up again this year, he won’t be so lucky … unless I just shoot the antlers off him like I’ve been known to do in the past.
There’s the stand closest to the lodge. I know there are deer in this area because I spook one every time I walk back to the lodge after hunting a stand a million miles away from the lodge. Also, this stand has perks. It’s close to the lodge in case my breakfast doesn’t sit well. Let’s face it: I’m not in mid-season-deer-camp-food shape yet. If I do get lucky, it’s a short drag to the gambrel.
There’s the stand where Jacob stuck one on opening day last year, but I think that was just beginner’s luck for the greenhorn Kill Billy. And I’m still not convinced Team Kill Billy—the opponents of my team, the Stump Monkeys—didn’t pick up that deer on the side of the highway and slap Jacob’s tag on it.
There are countless other stands, too. Decrepit homemade wood stands that weathered through many seasons. Stands next to water, bedding areas, creek-bottoms, highways. Stands where good and bad memories were made. When my wife turns to me and asks what I’m thinking about, I tell her, “Plans for our next anniversary.” But really, I’m thinking about the odds of a buck showing up down by the river on opening day.
I’m sure many hunters share the same internal battle.
Do you hunt the same stand on opening day every year for the sake of tradition? Do you hunt the one that you think will be best for the conditions? Or, do you hunt the one close to the cabin? Write your advice below in the “Comments” section. At this point, I’m open to any and all advice.
Even though I’m preoccupied with where I’ll be sitting during that special first morning, I know it’ll be nice wherever I choose. That first sit of the year is always exciting—so ripe with promise. Still, I hope not to hear, “Jeff didn’t see anything and he was in the best stand,” from the guys at lunch on opening day.