Things I learned this past hunting season
Now that deer season has ended, I look back at what I may have learned in 2014. Having tagged a deer in New York the first week in October, I headed a few miles south to finish out the last five weeks of archery season in Pennsylvania. I had several stands scattered around the dairy farm on which I have permission to hunt and I was confident I would tag another buck. As the season moved on, I saw deer, but the bucks that showed up didn’t meet Pennsylvania’s antler restriction requirement currently in place.
Ultimately, the Pennsylvania bow season came to a close and New York’s firearms season was set to begin the following day. As a result, I had no time to get my equipment out of Pennsylvania before going back out with my rifle. I decided to hunt New York on Saturday and Sunday and then go to Pennsylvania on Monday to pull my stands, but that was to prove a mistake.
When I got to my Pennsylvania hunting site I found bitter cold weather practically cemented the ratchet straps of my stands and climbing devices to the tree. What’s more, the locks I used to prevent my stands from being stolen were frozen and I couldn’t get the key to work in any of them. It appeared I may have driven the 20 miles from my house to the farm for nothing. To make matters even worse, a strong wind made things even colder and it didn’t take long for my fingers to become numb. What to do?
I had to thaw out the straps and lock somehow, and in an inspirational moment, remembered I had a can of windshield de-icer in the bed of the truck. It couldn’t hurt to try it. I gave the straps and the locking devices a healthy spray of de-icer and squirted a good dose down the keyhole of the lock. Wonder of wonders, it worked. The straps became supple enough for me to pry them away from the tree trunk and after a few more attempts I even got the key to turn in the lock. I was in business! It took me an hour and several trips back to the truck to thaw frozen fingers but I got the job done.
Just when you think you know it all, nature has a way of teaching you something. In the future, after the season closes, I won’t leave equipment in trees – especially in the month of November when the weather can get nasty in a hurry. However, if I have to for some unforeseen reason, I will also be sure to carry a multi-tool with me to help loosen stubborn straps, and by all means there will be an extra can of de-icer in the truck for just these sort of situations. Who knew?