I'm sitting here at my desk inside these concrete walls of this prison called work. The only thing that is allowing me to make it through my day is the glimmer of light at the proverbial end of the tunnel. That glimmer of light is actually the thought of the opening day of Archery deer season here in Illinois.
Long before sunrise tomorrow morning I will be 18' up in a tree watching as the world around me comes to life. Some say I'm crazy, some just don't agree with me, and others are rooting me on. Anyway that it works out, I will be up bright eyed and bushy-tailed perched in my tree waiting for the elusive whitetail to make its way past my stand.
Since opening day is tomorrow I thought I would resurrect a blog entry that I had written last year of a day out in the field.
As I drove down the dark road the raindrops started to hit my windshield softly. I looked at the temperature reading and saw that it was 61deg. Way too warm for a mid-October day. This weather was not what I had wanted and certainly would change the way my day would go. Gathering my gear from the back of the truck, I went over a mental checklist of all that was needed and then headed off down the trail. The rain had stopped as I made my way to my tree stand and all that was left was the fresh fragrance of the rain in the air. It reminded me more of a spring day than a mid fall excursion. Quietly and deliberately I worked my way down the trail to my tree. Into the stand I climbed, attached my safety harness, took off my pack and raised my bow up from the ground. It was well before shooting light and the dark around me gave me a quite comfort and hope.
I sat there and thought to myself what others were doing at that moment. Some were still sleeping and would think I was nuts, while others were getting ready to go to their jobs. That time prior to daylight is always a magical time. A wave of calm rushed over me as I sat in the dark and looked around at the surrounding timber. Being 16 feet up in a tree has a way of changing your perspective on your surroundings. It also will change your overall perspective on life but I will get to that later. The trees around me were dropping their leaves like they were shedding a layer of their life. The rain the night before had left everything well soaked and the forest was noisy with drops of rainwater hitting the freshly fallen leaves. I found myself marveling at the way the bushes slowly began to appear a branch at a time as the ambient light started to increase. They were beginning to magically appear as though an artist was creating each one with strokes of his brush right in front of my eyes. The world 16 feet up seemed different than the world on the ground. I could see things in the distance that you would never notice from the ground. I was no longer in my world in that tree, but I was in nature’s world.
The white-tailed deer was my quarry and a worthier adversary I could not think of. I had the fortunate opportunity to get a hunting slot at some state property for a 5-day stint and was going to take full advantage of it. To me the hunt had begun when I receive the call that I was invited to hunt this property. I had studied maps; talked to people that had hunted the area, and developed a game plan on what I would do. I didn’t have much time to set up my stand and scout, but I felt that I had gotten the knowledge needed to make a wise stand placement. The hunt was upon me and now I was waiting patiently for the deer to move near my stand. I heard some movement to my left shortly after daybreak and before I knew it I had two small coyotes within 5 yards from me. They were on a hunt of their own. They had come from two different directions and met near me. They met as though they were comparing notes as to what they had found. A short greeting and they were off down the trial to find a squirrel or rabbit. I thought to myself how exciting it was to watch those two and that most people would never be able to experience something like it. I almost felt guilty that I was able to experience this and others were no there to share in the experience.
The daylight had completely taken over the woods at this point and my mind began to wander from the hunt to what was going on in my life. Thoughts of money, work, and the like started running thru my head until my head was spinning with anxiety and tension. It wasn’t until a squirrel jumped from tree to tree, making a crashing sound as he landed, that I stopped and told my self that thinking was not what was called for. I demanded of myself to shut my brain off and turn my ears and eyes on. My thoughts stopped and my attentions were turned to what was going on around me. A mouse slowly worked his way thru the leaves looking for any morsel of food he could find. Several varieties of squirrels were running around me and there were two of them that had all black coats as though they were dressed for a special occasion. I watched as a squirrel neatly buried a nut that he had found and meticulously covered the area with leaves and twigs to be found later when he needed a snack. The hoot, hoot, hoot of two owls talking back and forth hit my ears and I listened as though I was a nosy neighbor trying to get the latest gossip. My mind was no longer filled with negativity, but with the joyous wonder of what was surrounding me. I was looking at things all wrong before, but now that I was out in the woods, things just seemed clearer. Things all had their place and all things worked in harmony with each other.
It wasn’t long after the daylight came that along with it the weather changed and the rain started to come down. It wasn’t a heavy rain, but one of those, lie at home in bed and look out the window type of rains. The south wind started to blow harder and the rain pelted the side of my face with each gust. By all accounts I should have been miserable, but I wasn’t. I was 16’ up in a tree and couldn’t have been in a better place. Sure I had thoughts what the warmth of a good cup of coffee would feel like, but that didn’t replace the feel that the woods had given me. I listened as the rain hit the leaves on the trees and those on the ground as well. I noticed that the squirrels had retreated to their dens in the trees and decided that they would play and search for food later. The wind was swaying all the trees as though they were swaying to a slow song being played by the band. The rain soon lulled me off into a slight slumber. My eyes were closed and all the sounds filled my ears. I had nodded off for only a few moments, but my body felt entirely rested.
If you were paying attention during my recount of my morning you may have noticed that there was no mention of me shooting, or for that fact, seeing any deer. Well this morning I did not see my quarry, and to be honest with you, if I had it would have only added to the already intense experience that I was having. That 16’ perch in that tree allowed me to experience things those others would only imagine. I was able to look at things around me and take them all in one at a time. That 16’ perch gave me a completely different perspective. A perspective that allowed me to appreciate everything that was around me in my life and in that moment in time. I know that when things get tough and those days at work don’t seem to go the way you want them to, I can always pull up these memories. The memories will allow me to dictate how I react to the day and not let the day dictate how I react to it.