Sumter Outdoors columnist Dan Geddings: A beautiful morning


It was 6:20 a.m. when I switched the truck off. I sat in the dark and listened to the radio for a few minutes. It was turned down very low. I could see the eastern sky through the big pines and noticed it was getting lighter. I needed to get moving. It was 6:30 when I stepped out, grabbed my rifle, put on my pack and started down the trail.

A spider web caught me by surprise, and if I hadn't had my mouth wide open, it would have gotten in my face. By the way, a spider web has no taste at all. I reached down and picked up a small stick and held it in front of me as I walked, in a feeble effort to catch any other unseen spider works.

At the creek, I reached out and grabbed the thick vine that I use to help my balance, as I stepped from the near bank onto an exposed root that serves as a convenient step to the far bank. The vine decided to swing backward, and I lost my balance and fell right in the creek. There was a thick pile of leaves washed into the bank, and I landed on them perfectly. Didn't get wet. I got up and stepped up onto the far bank without any more assistance from that fickle vine.

The stand is right there on the creek bank, and I tied my rifle to the pull up cord and climbed. The seat was full of leaves that I brushed aside. I hung my pack on a screw-in hook and pulled out a small cushion that makes the seat better. I sat down, got comfortable and pulled out my wind checker. One little puff showed me the wind was perfect. Straight out of the north. I pulled up my rifle. It was 6:45.

The sky and the woods were getting lighter, and I could see more detail now. Crows called off in the distance, and a few songbirds began calling nearby to greet the new day. I have been seeing turkeys from this stand and listened intently for some of their soft calls but heard none. It was 7 a.m. now and light enough now to see a deer if one ventured out. I sat there and scanned the open woods before me. Shafts of sunlight beamed through the green canopy. It was about 7:30 a.m.

I had attached a small soft cooler to my backpack that held a drink and a snack, and I decided to indulge my appetite up there in the trees. After all, it was such a beautiful morning. I hung my rifle on the hook above my pack and opened the small cooler. Just as I got the drink in one hand and the pastry in the other, I looked up and saw a deer coming down the hillside to my front, and more were coming.

In a near panic, I slowly moved my hand and dropped the pastry in my open pack, then looked up and counted six deer walking slowly through the woods toward my corn pile at about 60 yards to my left front. They were all does and were completely oblivious to my presence. The drink was still in my left hand, but I leaned over and waited until the deer were moving through a thin screen of understory before setting the open drink on the floor of the ladder stand. My rifle was still hanging on the nearby hook beside my pack.

The deer walked out into the open at the corn and started looking around nervously. One looked up directly at me. I was hoping that a buck might be trailing these does, so I sure didn't want to spook them. The doe that was looking at me started stomping a front foot and raising and lowering her head. I did not move, but she was very concerned about this strange object she could see up in a nearby tree. The other deer were unconcerned and started calmly eating my corn.

While I was sitting there engaged in this stare down with a suspicious doe, I heard a wild turkey fly up and land in a tree very close by. I wanted to turn my head and look at that turkey so bad I couldn't stand it, but I remained still. Finally, I saw the turkey fly down out of the corner of my eye. The deer started wandering off, and the doe finally decided that I was no threat and turned away. They all disappeared into a big cut over. I looked around for the turkey, but he was gone. No buck appeared, and after a few minutes, I picked up my drink and grabbed my snack out of the pack.

Then, believe it or not, here comes another deer down the hillside. It was a small doe, and she vanished somehow, out there in the open woods. It was certainly a beautiful morning.

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