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Always best to take the safe way

With the rut getting into full swing and the sun coming out for the first time in weeks, I thought Saturday afternoon would be a great time to go hunting.

The temperature was almost pleasant for a change as I made my way to a deer stand over one of the food plots. This particular food plot was made to help the turkeys if we had a harsh winter. About an acre of wheat was planted deep in the timber where the wind would be blocked. The wheat would stay green for most of the winter and the turkeys could scratch and eat protected from the worst of the cold.

Damon put a two-man stand at the edge of this food plot, primarily to take pictures during the late winter. He and Amanda have hunted from it, but the only deer seen was a doe and Amanda had to wake Damon up to see it. When he startled from a deep sleep, he scared the doe off before he could react.

I was not at all sure the deer would come to the food plot to eat since there are plenty of sources of food. My hope was, since the area is located along a major deer trail, a nice deer would just happen along. With the numbers of deer we have, they have to be somewhere. It could just as easily be where I waited as not. I also like the fact the stand is connected to a large oak tree with log chains and is very solid. I do not mind heights, up to a point, but almost any height on a stand that feels like it is about to fall off the tree with me in it makes me a bit hesitant to bet my life on it. Many people have been injured and some have died from tree stands that were not safe.

I climbed up the ladder, made myself comfortable in my safety harness, and pulled up my bow on the drop line. I knocked and arrow and leaned back against the tree. The setting sun cast warming rays through the trees to where I was relaxing. I saw how a person could easily fall asleep. It was quiet and warm. The only activity in the area was an occasional squirrel rushing about storing nuts in a hollow log for winter.

Deer eventually started moving. They were moving in the heavy brush on the opposite side of the trail. I could get a glimpse of a deer's white tail or see a flash of brown as bucks chased does just out of range and sight. No deer were traveling through the food plot or even down the main trail this evening.

It was almost dark when I decided to call it a hunt before I got cold or in some other way inconvenienced. Up to this point, I could call my outing a complete success. I had spent time enjoying the outdoors, did not have to dress a deer and had not fallen out of a tree. It is best to stop when one is ahead.

I lowered my bow to the ground and turned to descend the ladder. A nice fat doe stood not 10 feet behind the tree I was in. She glanced up at me rather quizzically and continued browsing. It is at a time like this a person has to ask themselves just how badly do they want a deer. I could pull my bow back up off the ground with one hand while hanging onto the ladder with the other, but it is almost impossible to draw a bow with both hands and not fall off the ladder. The closest deer I had seen all afternoon walked away as I climbed the rest of the way to the ground. She was safe but more importantly, so was I. There is always another day to hunt if a person is careful and does not get hurt.

Walter Scott is an outdoors enthusiast and freelance writer from Bloomfield, Iowa.