Treestand prep: Don’t be a naked chicken

With barely more than week left before opening day of bow season, we’re trying to wrap up the final preparations. Although, are we ever really ready?

Mentally, yes. But, when it comes to hanging stands and clearing trails, it seems like a hunter’s work is never done. My husband and I spent the good part of last weekend in the deer woods. Of course, he does most of the work hanging stands. I, on the other hand, armed with a giant pair of clippers and a machete, hacked away at limbs, thorns, and other debris to clear pathways, all while trying not to laugh at a few of the choice words that spewed out of Brian’s mouth. My shoulders still ache and I’ve pulled 12 thorns out of my hands. We’ll be spending the upcoming weekend doing the same.

Over time, I’ve come to realize that hanging stands isn’t as simple as it would seem that it should be, and I’m not talking about the physical labor involved. For instance, there are a couple spots where I’d love to have a stand, but sometimes even finding a tree that’s conducive for stand placement (straight and without knots where your back will be resting against the tree), can be difficult. It’s also important to be extremely mindful of any overhanging limbs or dead trees in the area. After all, there’s not a hunter out there who hasn’t heard horror stories about freak accidents. We should never become so complacent or naïve to believe that something just as terrible can’t happen to us.

And then there’s the matter of the fact that right now, all of the summer foliage is still thick and green. It can be a challenge knowing just how much to trim back to make sure your shooting lanes are up to par. Obviously, taking too much can rob you of crucial cover while hunting.

This time of year, you can climb a stand, look out, and hardly see a clear window to shoot through. However, over the next couple months, the green will turn to brown, shrivel up, and fall to the timber floor. If you cut back too much now, you might be sorry later on when you’re sitting in a tree feeling about as exposed as one of those ugly hairless cats.

Personally, I prefer doing only minor trimming at this point, enough to afford a small window or two, during the early part of deer season. Once trees and bushes begin the dormant process, you can always scale back more if you need. It’s better to be safe than to feel like a naked chicken that got stuck in a tree come November.

Once again, here’s wishing all Illinois hunters – crossbow, archery and firearm – the best of luck this year.

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