Do you ever get that creepy-crawling, can’t-sit-still feeling you get when anticipating another deer season? Left untreated, it soon turns to a rash … well, at least rash behavior.
It’s called, “The Itch,” and the most common side effects are obsessive/compulsive tendencies to think about nothing but deer hunting. If you find yourself at the office, drawing maps of your hunting property on napkins while describing all your tree stands to a coworker, you probably have it.
You definitely have it if you run out every day on your lunch hour to check your trail cameras.
I’m not sure where it comes from, or if it’s anything more than a psychological disorder, but I’m certain all deer hunters contract the itch at least once a year. I also know that it doesn’t take much to get my mind 100 percent on whitetails. Throw in a 48-degree morning in
I assuredly had the itch when I sat down to write this column on a cool Saturday morning. Predictably, I couldn’t sit for long. I finished my prerequisite mug of coffee, logged out of my computer and drove to a favorite spot to hang a tree stand.
Although hanging a tree stand seems like a mundane task, I’ve found that it’s one of those experiences that’s effective therapy — instant itch relief, so to speak. Hanging that stand also reminds me of the most exhilarating moments connected with the hunt. Some are stunning, but most are subtle. Combined, they make the journey much more enjoyable than the destination.
These might be edited as the season goes along, but this is currently my Top 10 list of best sights, sounds, smells and emotions of the hunt.
10. The nagging soreness from overworked thighs, calves and triceps that came from hanging tree stands and cutting shooting lanes during a hot summer weekend.
9. The muffled sound of frost-covered grass crunching underfoot as I walk to the stand on a pitch-black morning.
8. The dank and oddly sweet smells of earth, evergreens and fallen leaves that hang in the air during cool, damp autumn days.
7. The reassuring tug from the safety strap pulling between my shoulders when I bend to sit on the tree stand seat.
6. The rush of adrenaline that starts in my feet and surges upward the instant my boots come back to earth after standing on a steel platform for five hours.
5. The “crack-plop!” sound a ripe red oak acorn makes when falling to the forest floor. The crack sound comes when the acorn hits a limb; the plop comes when it lands in the leaves.
4. The faint odor of hardwood smoke coming from a freshly stoked wood stove or fireplace.
3. The rapid cadence and crescendo of a buck’s clicking grunt during the rut.
2. The tingly feeling I get up the back of my neck the very instant my eyes spy the first drop of blood on the ground after a shot.
1. The instant shot of relief and elation that overcome me when that white blur up ahead in the woods comes into clear focus as a dead deer’s belly.
Call it an itch. Call it an obsession. Whatever it is, these 10 stimuli will soothe the affliction.
At least for a while.
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