1) You never pick the right stand. You’ve scouted, planted food plots, scoured through hours of trail cam pictures. You’ve poured over Google Earth, studying bedding areas and pinch points. You’ve got two stands for the predicted wind – which one do you take? Usually the wrong one. Sometimes I’ll actually set up a trail camera on the other stand just to see if I picked right or not. I’d prefer not to talk about how that’s gone.
2) Your memory card/trail cam won’t work. You’ve set the trail camera in the right place, adjusted it for height and sprayed scent control on it. You left the area undisturbed for two weeks leading up to the opener. You’re like a kid on Christmas morning when you finally load it into your computer. When “Memory Card Error” pops up on your screen, it’s like unwrapping a fruitcake. *On a related note, when this happens to you, don’t borrow your parents’ memory card that has all their favorite pictures from the last 10 years stored on it. Because you I will lose it.
3) The buck you’ve been hunting all season will walk under your stand when you go to lunch. This actually happened to me a few years ago. I had a buck named “Brutus” that I’d been following. The neighboring property had gun hunters on it for the opener while I sat quietly with my bow. They ended up shooting a small buck right before dark that wobbled nearby. I helped them recover the deer and shared stories from the day. They mentioned a giant that escaped unharmed as five rounds from an unlucky hunter zipped over and under and behind it. You could tell which one it was by the way he hung his head as the story was told. I slowly pulled out my phone and showed him the trail camera of Brutus. “Yep, that’s him.” I winced. Then he then added, “And he ran right towards your stand at 2 p.m.” I was at lunch until 3.
4) When you’re deer hunting, you’ll have turkeys in bow range. And vice versa.
5) You need to use stealth mode when going out to your stand. This is an important one because you never know where the deer are. I climbed into my stand the other day and literally had a buck walk by within 30 seconds of sitting down. I hadn’t even nocked an arrow yet. It’s possible that the deer was deaf and blind because sometimes I’m as stealthy as an alarm clock.
6) Grouse. See No. 4.
7) If you hear something shuffling through the woods, it’s probably a squirrel. There have been one or two occasions where I’ve heard a deer before I’ve seen it, but usually when a twig breaks, I freeze and stare intently until I catch that small flash of gray movement on the ground. I’m surprised that most squirrels actually live to see the end of the deer season.
8) Deer will always appear closer than you expect them to. When one is spotted off in the distance, I’ll keep both eyes plastered on the last known location, with the focus of a starving dog at feeding time. When a few minutes of no sightings go by, I’ll relax and give up. It’s inevitable that the deer will then poke its head out from behind a tree at 15 yards, prompting an audible not-safe-for-work response that will ensure a hasty exit.
9) If you don’t see deer while you’re in the stand, you’ll see them everywhere on your drive home. Usually, they’re walking into your woods as you are climbing in your car.
10) The perfect spot never is. I found a hidden honey-hole, located at the back end of some private land. It was a hard-to-reach area and trampled with deer tracks. I painstakingly set up a ground blind, spent hours brushing it in and walked a mile-and-a-half to get to it. As I quietly sat and waited, something caught my eye on the neighboring land. My hopes were dashed as a pheasant hunter meandered his way within 10 yards of my secret location, all but ensuring my morning would include an angry mile-and-a-half walk back to my truck.
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Bret “T-Bone” Amundson is the host of Northland Outdoors Radio, heard on 14 stations across the Northland.