Thursday, November 21, 2013
The cooler weather is always a reminder of tasty Lowcountry oysters, great college football, holidays and my personal favorite, time in the deer stand. Spring Wild Turkey hunting is a magical time for avid sportsman, but there is something about the quiet solitude of a deer stand. Deer season starts on Aug. 15 in South Carolina. Oppressive heat, waves of pesky mosquitos and slithering snakes keep many hunters in the creeks and ocean chasing Redfish until the cooler weather arrives. The die hards take to the woods hoping for an early season harvest to put some meat in the freezer. Hunting in the Lowcountry slows after chasing longbeards during the month of April. Planting and preparation then begins for deer season. Clearing brush, planting food plots, scouting out new territory, hunt club renewals and repairing or building new deer stands becomes the priority. South Carolinians are fortunate to enjoy a very long season chasing those elusive Whitetail deer from the end of summer through the month of December.
Each deer hunter has his own style and approach. Regarding “still hunting” or hunting from a fixed position over a target area, choices vary. Stands range from a basic ladder type stand with a small seat leaned against a tree, to hunting from a movable, two-part, “climber” stand. It is also common to find the tree-house style stand with a comfortable bag chair. I have seen everthing from an old painters ladder fitted with a small wooden platform fastened to a tree with a ratchet strap to a large 15-foot-by-15-foot plywood floor nailed between four trees with room enough for a nice cocktail party. All of these options are based upon the terrain hunted, the hunter’s preference for function and, of course, the budget.
Some hunters have areas picked that are time-tested and very consistent. More permanent type stands can be found in those areas. Hunters who prefer a more fluid style, moving and patterning deer in transition areas often choose from a variety of high tech climbing stands that can be easily strapped on your back and hiked from spot to spot. These stands take some practice, but are normally are a very comfortable and functional option.
Oftentimes, the stand will fit the individual hunter’s personality. While building a few deer stands over the years, I have seen some interesting features added: extra large seats, sound-proofing on walls, flip up windows, shingled roofs and yes, even a septic system. Every hunter has their own needs and preferences. All are designed and outfitted to give that hunter the extra advantage he needs to stay in the stand longer and be more concealed.
A variety of materials are used in the construction. Materials range from pre-fabricated, out–of–the-box types, to plywood and telephone poles. Usually scrap lumber, re-purposed lumber/timbers and anything scavenged from the garage can be found in a deer stand.
Many hunters have unique names for each of their stands. Some of these are selected from the geographical location, a specific event that occurred in that spot or a special feature of the area. I have heard such names as “Martha’s Plot,” “Dynamite Field” and “Rice Field.” The names are endless, and offer great conversations among hunters. I so enjoy speaking with hunters about their unique stands and the history that surrounds them. Some of these stands have been around for multiple generations and offer young and old hunters a place to make memories and enjoy some quality time in the outdoors.
Regardless of the style and preference, safety is a priority. Safety harnesses and hoists for lifting and raising gear safely into the stand are highly encouraged.
Michael M. Cochran is an avid outdoorsmen and hunter.