Here's how to pass some slow time out on stand this season.
Let's face it, we've all been there. It's prime time for deer hunting, but you get out in your treestand or blind and things are incredibly slow.
Depending on your level of patience, dealing with slow times can either be a breeze or something akin to watching paint dry.
While most of us would love to be in group one, this list is for those of us (myself included) who sometimes find ourselves bored out of our minds when the hunting is slow.
7. Mentally rehearse
This is a good thing to do pretty much any time you are hunting. Deer and many other animals can be wildly unpredictable in their movements at times. You never know when a shooter animal is going to step out, or from where.
Take some time to think about what you'll do if that big buck sneaks up behind you on the blindside or from a direction you aren't expecting. How will you react, how will you move? What will be the best way to stay undetected if you are taken by surprise?
This is a good thing to do to kill the time in the morning before first light and will help you be prepared when legal shooting times arrive.
6. Wildlife photography
If the deer or other game you are seeking isn't around, it's likely other animals will be. If you have a good camera, taking photos of the birds and squirrels can be a fun way to pass the time and hone your photography skills.
I've actually used my digital SLR to practice movements around deer. Bringing my Nikon up to my eye isn't quite the same as a shotgun to the shoulder, but it's still a significant amount of movement and it helps to practice these kinds of small movements on the small does and button bucks that aren't as spooky as their older counterparts.
Plus, it's just fun to have cool photos from the field to relive memories years down the road.
5. Bring a book or magazine
You'll get mixed hunter reactions on this. I've heard people swear up and down this is a bad idea because it only takes a few seconds for a deer to arrive and leave just as quickly. I've heard of some hunters listening to audio books or even podcasts to pass the time.
Personally I wouldn't go the audio route because earbuds will take away your sense of hearing which I believe can be just as important to detect incoming game. It's important to develop a system if reading, but maybe just read a page or two, then scan the surroundings, and repeat.
In the end, it boils down to what you're comfortable with and what works for you.
4. Bird watch
Even during slow times of hunting, birds are usually a constant while big game hunting. Bring a small field identification guide and see how many species you can identify in a single sit. Then try to out-do your record on the next one.
The good thing about bird watching is, your full attention is still on the woods and you're less likely to miss a deer or other large animal sneaking in. And, you just may learn something about what other small animals inhabit the woods you hunt at the same time.
3. Bring a snack
This one is important on longer sits. A good snack helps you keep up your energy and helps occupy your time for a few minutes without compromising your position too much. If coffee or an energy drink helps keep you from feeling sleepy, have at it.
As for me, I like to bring a thermos of hot chocolate on the cold mornings. There's just something great about enjoying a steaming cup of hot chocolate on a snowy winter morning in the blind.
Just don't eat or drink too much, you don't want nature to call at the same time a big buck shows up!
2. Daydream/mental games
You're out in the woods by yourself, you don't have to worry about the bills, yard work or other life worries, so just let yourself daydream. I mean why not? Who's going to stop you? You're never too old to use your imagination to pass the time in a stand.
You can also do things like count the number of shots you hear. (A great way to pass opening morning of firearms season). Or you can start naming the squirrels and trees and thinking up cool backstories for each of them. Do whatever works to keep yourself in stand for as long as possible since you never know when that monster buck may step out!
I know this one will probably rile some people up. I know. I've heard it before. "You're not out there to surf the internet or play video games on your phone or other electronic devices!" I say, be a little open-minded to what works for people.
Just like with a book, you just have to be very careful when using these devices to pass the time. I'll even admit my smartphone nearly cost me during the 2013 Michigan firearm deer opener. Things got slow that morning and I ended up with my nose too buried in my phone. When I looked up, a 10-point buck was standing just 30 yards away!
Things could have gone badly there, but fortunately for me, the buck was just as distracted as I was thanks to a hot doe in the area. Long story short, his skull and antlers now reside on my wall just feet away from where I type this.
Since then, I usually work out a system where I look up every minute or so and don't let myself get too engrossed. If you have a data connection where you hunt, there's pretty much no limit to the ways to kill the time. Googling things at random helps eat up a lot of time!
If you're still unconvinced of using electronics in the stand, consider what professional hunter Michael Waddell does. It is well-documented one of his boredom-killing technique is an electronic Yahtzee game. And Waddell has killed bucks most of us can only dream of.
The thing to keep in mind with all these suggestions is that no two people are the same. I know there will probably be some people who are going to scoff at these suggestions and call anyone who needs them less of a hunter for doing so. Sure, some hunters can go out in the woods and the time flies by for them just sitting in nature.
But some people, like myself, can do that for a while, but do get bored if the animals aren't moving.
The key is to find something that works for you when it comes to passing the slow times on stand. Let's face it, you want to spend as much time in the woods as you can. No one has ever killed the biggest buck of their life while sitting on the couch watching football instead.
Find a boredom killer that helps you spend as much time as possible in the woods as possible and you'll drastically up your odds for success this season!