By: Mindy Simons
As summer comes to an end, archery hunters across Wisconsin start to prepare for the upcoming season. Bows are sighted in, arrows and broadheads tested at varying distances, and tree stands are hung and checked for safety.
I will admit, I have yet to arrow a deer with my bow, but this time of year and the opportunity to take in nature from a different perspective is always exciting to me. There is nothing like walking into your stand while it is still dark, quietly getting set, and watching the woods wake up right before your eyes. The same holds true in observing the afternoon turn to evening, as the sun casts long shadows and finally sinks below the horizon.
Sitting in a stand with a view from above provides a unique perspective on the woods below. While sitting quietly in stillness you come to realize very quickly that the loudest, least discreet animal is the gray squirrel. When I was a brand-new hunter, I was startled more than once by an overly excited gray squirrel. Deer, on the other hand, are so incredibly silent. It amazes me how a creature that large can be so silent with each step. Certainly, later in the season when the rut begins, their silent nature disappears, replaced with a myriad of sounds and crashing chases through the timber. Also, during the rut, you may smell a deer before you see or hear it.
I asked my husband, an avid bowhunter, what some of his favorite observations of nature have been from sitting in a tree; he had a lot of stories to share. One fall he watched a mother raccoon and her kits navigate a path below his stand. The kits followed exactly right behind mom without missing a step and never wavering from her path. A few years ago, a curious black bear batted around at his shoes that he had left at the base of his tree. Fortunately, the bear decided not to climb up to say hello, but we’ve all seen the videos where they have made the unwelcomed climb.
Watching and listening to nature is a treat that the stillness of archery hunting provides. Getting to witness a whitetail buck make a scrape on the ground or rub a on a tree is firsthand experience into viewing how territories are set. Rattling a buck in for a potential fight or getting them to run in using a can call can be equally exhilarating. Even the rare times that a chickadee lands on a branch near you, as if to offer a quick greeting, can be memorable moments.
Regardless of your success in harvesting venison, a lot can be taken from some still time in the woods. It is a chance to reconnect with nature, breathe some clean, crisp fall air, and observe how the creatures of the forest interact and carry on their daily habits.
Wisconsin’s Archery season runs mid-September through the end of January each year. Enjoy your time and the savor the view from above.