That rotting pile of lumber hanging from the crotch of that old oak tree has seen it all. Can you imagine if it could tell the tales it witnessed?
We've all been there, thinking we are hiking deeper and farther into the thickest nastiest terrain we can find. Surely we are the first to find this honey hole. There are no signs of other hunters here, no bait piles, no left behind scent wicks. Nothing, a truly untouched piece of whitetail heaven.
It's usually at this point, while surveying the area for the perfect tree, you see it, a cluster of old lumber hanging by a nail or two in an ancient oak or maple tree.
If you're like me, the emotions and questions that are evoked from this sight are nothing short of magical. As the wave of nostalgia washes over you, you can't help but wonder, who built it? How many deer were harvested from it? Did a giant whitetail fall right where I am standing?
You can almost picture the old timer sitting up there on that platform on a frigid morning, wearing a pair of blue jeans, a black and red wool coat with an old double barrel shotgun clutched firmly in his numb fingers.
Judging by the fact that the stand is only about eight feet off the ground, it's safe to say this stand is from a time when hunting was much simpler.
You can bet that old wool coat wasn't laden with carbon or some other scent killing material. This hunter didn't have a $500-plus ozone generator humming over his head or a comically large plastic deer call hanging around his neck.
This hunter practiced woodsmanship. He studied the prevailing wind in the area, knew the closest food source, and hunted pinch points and funnels. This hunter used terrain features to his advantage.
That's exactly why that stand is where it is. It's the perfect spot, the spot you came all the way back here to find.
Based on the old rub line headed right underneath the old stand, and the ground pocked with fresh tracks, it appears not much has changed as far as deer activity since then.
The next time you stumble upon the rotting memories of another hunter's honey hole, don't get discouraged someone else has already found this spot. Tip your hat to the sky and hang a nice comfortable portable stand as close as you can get to that old one.
The times and quality of gear have changed, and we now have more technology then we know what to do with, but what has not changed is why that old timer built his stand there and why I chose to follow in his footsteps.
Come opening day, I will be watching the same sunrise he did, waiting for that old swamp buck that probably still haunts the old timer's dreams to this day.