The Deer Stand Is Where We Learn About Ourselves

Non-hunters often have great difficulty understanding what would possess an otherwise normal individual to sit in a tree stand for hours on end waiting patiently for a deer to pass.   To be perfectly honest, everyone has their own reasons for doing it.   Early in one’s career the motivation to score on a trophy animal can be so compelling it becomes reason alone.   Later, however, after hundreds if not thousands of hours waiting silently, I do believe many hunters just “feel” it is the right place to be when the autumnal winds start blowing.

Yesterday I saw this little inset picture (wisdom) and found it to be so utterly perfect.   Indeed, in silence is when we learn so much about ourselves.   Deer hunting (as well as many other forms) is an exercise about waiting.   It’s takes determination to rise hours before most other folks on a weekend to pursue the passion.   It takes a desire to accomplish something that takes both skill and luck without ever a guarantee of success.

Oh yeah, hunters learn a lot about themselves.   The time for introspection can have a profound impact on one’s life.   I know.   For it was in the deer stand twice in my life I mustered the courage to tell an employer I was moving on.   Time for greener pastures.   Time to make a change and let go of what had become comfortable in life to seek new opportunities and adventure.

The deer stand will do that to you.

I think the deer stand will also help “reset” your life or put things back into proper perspective.   In today’s fast-paced world this is more important than ever before.   I know from personal experience that far too often life has you running seemingly nonstop almost to the point of exhaustion.   A little “me time” is often the cure for this ailment.

So, when you are in the tree stand considering life, weighing lofty decisions, reminiscing on friendships, contemplating that new truck purchase, taking a mental health break from the kids, putting the stress of work behind you, and simply unwinding with some peace and quiet, consider this.   Time spent in the deer stand helps to recharge your life’s batteries.

When your phone is running on empty, you never quite know if you’ll have enough “juice” left to get you by until the next recharge.   For me, hunting season is my life re-charge.   It affords me the opportunity to step back, slow down life just a bit, and do plenty of evaluating on both where I’ve been, but more importantly on where I am going if I so choose to walk that path.

Speaking of walking that path.   Did you know that yesterday was my official 10th anniversary for this blog.   Yes, indeed, I didn’t care to make a big deal of it…but with this blog post I am now officially starting a new decade of blogging.

You can be sure that when I am out in the deer woods this fall contemplating all there is about my life, part of that learning about myself will involve what I am doing with this blog.   Ten years…can you believe it!   In case you’re wondering, HERE was my very first post.

It’s fair to say the act of blogging also forces a person to learn a lot about themselves.   Yet, the genesis for nearly all of these efforts begins with precious time spent in the woods learning about who you really are.   For once you discover and understand you, the rest of the world comes into much clearer focus.

Tell me about your time spent in the woods discovering about yourself.

Yeah, I Ate Breakfast In The Deer Stand

To some folks they might think this is silly.

Other folks might even go so far as to say any serious deer hunter would never do this.

Yet, after spending 35 years of deer hunting your mind gets to do a lot of thinking over that time.   Indeed, I’ve often said to myself all this deer stand needs is another creature comfort from home.   In fact, I’ve always thought how neat would it be to sit in the deer stand hunting while also cooking up a hearty breakfast.


Yeah, I did it.   The peak morning hunting hours had already come and gone…so, I wasn’t worried about that.   Even so, I was still technically deer hunting and I’ve learned stranger things have happened in the deer woods.

Back in 1994 I was the camp cook for a large group of hunters up near Perham, Minnesota.   I was the last to leave the camp after cleaning up the breakfast mess.   I was also the ONLY hunter that year to tag a deer from our camp.   How did it happen?   Less than 30 minutes after cleaning dishes and sitting in a stand 75 yards from where I cooked.   BINGO!

So, don’t tell me how doing a little cooking while out deer hunting is silly or a foolish activity if you’re a serious deer hunter.   You just don’t fully comprehend the power of bacon cooking—at times even for the deer.   Ha!

©2013 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

What Matters Are The Memories—Not Deer—Taken From The Woods

Don’t let anyone fool you…deer hunting is much more about creating memories than it is about the act of killing deer.

It’s a time for reflection about your life and there is simply no better place to do that than sitting out in the woods, nose dripping from the frigid cold, back stiff from a rock hard seat, churning stomach from a combination of jerky and candy bars, and who can forget the urge to pee when it’s often most inconvenient to do so.

One of my very first hunting partners, Gary Urness, still hunts with me in spirit each fall even after passing away from ALS almost 10 years ago.

Yet, most hunters who spend time out in the woods overcome all the discomforts and get hooked on deer hunting for life.   Admittedly, for some hard core hunting souls they are driven by the almost insatiable urge to hang bone (antlers) on the wall.   Others are motivated by the deep desire to put venison in the freezer for the many upcoming culinary delights.   Then, I contend, there is a good number of hunters, like me, who simply revel in the fact the good Lord has granted us one more opportunity in the woods to experience some of the best times possible spent in nature.

When you are a young hunter it is necessary to prove your predatory prowess to family and friends.   Bagging a deer makes or breaks the hunt during this stage of hunter development.   The thought of an unfilled deer tag sends a shiver up the young spine.   But for many hunters as they mature they develop a more sophisticated satisfaction from the deer hunting experience.   Oh, sure, don’t get me wrong as a deer hunter the goal of killing a deer is always in your mind.   But the truly mature and content hunter is the one who enters the woods knowing full well no matter what happens on any given day it will be a successful deer hunting experience.

When you get right down to it deer hunting is a peculiar pastime.   A person sits and waits for hours and if the hunter is lucky they might see deer for a few split seconds.   The majority of the time spent stand hunting is concentrating, looking, patiently waiting and wondering when that moment of sheer excitement will finally arrive.

Suddenly you hear a twig snap!   Your heart starts to pound as the natural adrenalin kicks in with a large bolus of energy to your bloodstream.   Ahhh!  Dang!  Disappointment soon overtakes you as you painfully discover it’s only a fox squirrel scampering around on a downed log behind your stand.

Then there are those long idle moments when nothing seems to be happening.   Actually, in the woods if you look closely there is always some sort of action taking place.   Maybe it’s a woodpecker scouring the tree looking for a meal…or maybe a tree finally losing its leaves at a rapid pace.   The deer woods is constantly evolving and changing before our eyes.

My cousin, Howard Braaten, passed away from Leukemia far too many years ago, but I still feel his lasting presence in the deer stand each fall as we continue to share special moments together in nature.

I sometimes chuckle when I hear a deer hunter describe they didn’t see anything.   Of course, what they mean is they didn’t see a deer.   But the truth is a person would have to be asleep not to be in the deer woods soaking up the total experience.

For me, deer hunting is also largely about memories of hunters no longer with us in body, but certainly still present in the spiritual sense.   I’ve said this before how I may be physically sitting in the tree by myself, but I am never feeling truly alone.   At no other time during the year do I feel closer to pals who have moved on to higher hunting grounds than I do during deer hunting season.

Young hunters just can’t understand this until later in life, but its the memories a deer hunter holds so dear that connects a person to this sport for a lifetime.   And when I talk about memories I am not just talking about deer, but also the memories of people you once shared those special moments with in the woods.

Indeed, the rest of the world might measure the true success of a deer hunter by the tangible venison and antlers he has to show for his efforts after the hunt.   What a terrible mistake.   As many deer hunters grow to realize over a lifetime, it’s the many intangible memories a person takes from the deer woods that truly matters after the hunt.

©2013 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.