Ronnie's First Deer Hunt
"This is just totally ridiculous”, thought my little brother Ronnie, as he perched 15’ up in a pine tree. Shivering in the unusually cold weather, he continues his line of thought - “I have no business here”.
Here he sits, on a heavy, homemade one piece climbing style deer stand – that does not even have a seat. Heck, the stand is steel, it is not even made of aluminum. He has a little seat separate from the stand that is secured the tree with a little section of chain (these were popular back in the 80’s).
“Ridiculous, just totally ridiculous” he continues in his mind.
I guess some background is in order for this story.
This was about 1980 or so… and I say “or so” because I can not recall exactly.
I was in my young 20’s and my brother Ronnie is 2 years younger than I am – so I am not even sure he was very far out of his teens.
This was my second year of bowhunting and after much persuasion, Ronnie had decided to also join the fray. He would begin his deer hunting career with a bow, which I considered admirable back then – and still do.
We had what we thought were good bows at the time – mine was an old round wheel Hoyt that pulled 57 lbs – that was as high as it would go. I seem to recall that we had Easton XX75 arrows but that may or may not be correct…. I do not recall what bow Ronnie was shooting – but it might well be the Fred Bear Whitetail II that he shoots to this day… avid bow enthusiasts may recall if that bow was in production yet….
I do recall that from my 10 yard pin to my 40 yard pin was about an inch or so – those bows shot at 30 yards in an arc like a rainbow!
At any rate, opening day that year (for Georgia, it was always the 3rd Saturday in September back then) dawned very cool… down in the high 50’s or lower 60’s and Ronnie and I were headed to Fort Stewart Military Reservation – with high hopes, a bag of sandwiches and home made treestands!
Driving my absolutely worn out International pick up truck (which we lovingly referred to, of course, as the CornBinder) we made the trip westward to the furthest reaches of the base.
I knew of a great black water swamp bottom that was literally alive with deer and hogs – and I suspect it still is to this day.
We trekked into the swamp and I placed Ronnie on an old firebreak that was alive with deer and hog crossings…and I made my way down a little crease in the swamp that ended up being – even now, some 30 years later, one of the best tree stand areas we ever saw… more about that tree in a later story, however!
Dawn came slowly that morning and I was totally enjoying the cool weather.
150 yards away, the same could not be said for my brother!
Uncomfortable, cold and really wondering what the heck he was doing there in the first place, Ronnie felt like a silly old fool on a wild goose chase.
“Nothing is gonna come by here and even if they did, I could never shoot it… heck I am on a 2’ square platform halfway up a pine tree – again, I got no business up here”.
Little did he know that some 30 years later, he would not be able to count the hours spent on 2’ square platforms, halfway up one or tree or another!
But, I digress… back to our disillusioned hunter… up there he sits, foolish and dejected – simply waiting for me to come back and get him.
Passing the moments, waiting only to be sprung from his “captivity” Ronnie allows his mind to wander…and loses concentration.
Fumbling around in the stand, Ronnie leans over to pick up a water bottle and almost suffers a heart attack!!!!!
DIRECTLY UNDER THE STAND!!!
JUST STANDING THERE… LOOKING AROUND!!!!
Ronnie is absolutely floored… his heart jumps northward of his throat and his is totally frozen at the sight of the buck… not even one yard from the tree…
Fumbling at the bow and attempting to stand, crucial errors were made.
On Ronnie’s part.
The buck did not return the favor.
I am not sure now if it was the sound of teeth chattering or the arrow that Ronnie dropped – literally on the back of the unsuspecting critter – that caused the buck to consider (and then follow through with) locating to the next county. But, relocate he did, with little or no preamble.
We will never know the exact series of events of that morning – because Ronnie could not relay all of the details – even that morning!
Now… back to our friend in the tree… heart pounding and empty bow in hand (one arrow on the ground 15’ below and the others in the quiver), he stands gazing at a hole in the thicket where a very respectable buck just made his escape!!!
Slowing his knocking knees and getting his breath back… he replays (sort of) the events in his mind… buck…. big buck… right under the stand… I choked… he is gone… there are deer here… they do come close enough to shoot… maybe this is not so goofy after all….
“Man, oh man, did I just see that… or was that a dream… that was totally cool” he thinks, as he sits back down… now intent on getting another arrow out of the quiver.
I mentioned the stand and seat arrangement earlier for a specific reason… and those reasons come into play… right about……………. now!
Ronnie’s feet lessen the pressure on the stand, for one reason or another… as he sits on a 8” or so sized seat – and with no warning, the tree stand immediately plummets… yep, you guessed it – 15 feet, all the way to the ground.
Now…. draw the mental picture! Here sits our hunter… on a tiny little seat that is attached to the tree with a section of swing set chain – and his feet dangle downward… with NOTHING to stand on!!!!
Our hero has gone from elation to terror in the span of… what…. 2 minutes????
Somehow, he manages to drop the bow, reach around behind himself, pivoting his butt on what was literally an 8” seat platform – and grasp the tree with both arms!!
ONLY a young man could do that!!!
He shimmies down the tree, gathers his belongings – and goes right back up the tree!!!!
I return, around 10 o’clock, to find him sitting up there, silent and as observant as any sentry ever could be – with a goofy grin on his face.
That was Ronnie’s very first deer hunt, and it went from very low to very high to very low… all in a hurry!
Needless to say, he was hooked – and in the ensuing years, we have built so many more stories – ones I will want to share with you folks – but this was the start…. From this story spring so many others!!!