Bramwell: Thoughts from the Deer Stand

deer hearing
14x deer" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by naturalflow

In 57 years of deer hunting and 63 years of small game hunting, a few experiences stand out with many more having much in common.

I was walking to one of my stands on Thanksgiving eve and heard the unmistakable call of a sandhill crane flock. High in the sky, they were, building altitude trying to catch a swift current south. I’ve never understood these migratory birds. I once saw a big flock resting on the Whitewater River above Brookville Reservoir. It was early December when they should have been much further south. Late February brings a multitude of flocks that just can’t seem to wait to get to their mating grounds at Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area.

Joe and Bobbi Jones returned home from Florida for Thanksgiving, with pictures of sandhills walking around the neighborhood. “These are birds that probably migrated down the east coast,” Joe said.

Why the difference? Open water and plenty of grain to eat, I’m guessing.

After I got settled in my tree stand things were boring until 5:20 pm. when two does entered the bean field. They took their time, but finally wound up under my tree. Were there mistletoe, I could have kissed them.

This is an area of low deer density, thus, I decided to pass. All I wanted now was for them to move on and let me ascend, un-busted.

Hunting locally, this season I continually get tips on where big bucks are seen. I try to get permission as close as possible. I have had good luck with the permission, but my effort has not put a buck in the crosshairs. It is exciting to hunt new areas.

Tuesday evening, I sat a patch of cattails in the middle of a picked bean field. A friend had spotted a big buck in the south bordering woods. Across the fence to the west was a heavy patch of weeds. To the north was a pond where I had earlier caught a nice mess of bluegills and redears.

The wind was strong out of the south, but as darkness closed in a cold front was sending scouts, small dark clouds, across the sky which soon obscured an early rising moon.

At age 10, I shot my first rabbit. I snuck out with my dad’s old Winchester. bolt-action .22 with iron sights. I borrowed the neighbor’s beagle and we hunted a railroad. Many rabbits ran past, that day, but the last one stopped. Since I was not supposed to be hunting alone, I gave my prize to the neighbor.

The quickest I ever killed a limit of rabbits was 15 minutes. I was 15 years old using a borrowed Essex double barreled .16 gage. The bunnies were in a weed/briar choked ravine in the middle of a field. It seems like every other step a rabbit jumped out.

My younger brother Randy went with me when I shot five cottontails out of a woodlot, near Moonsville in a half-hour.

One Sunday morning while in my teens, I shot four squirrels and a red fox in less than an hour using the old Remington .22. At the time, it was illegal to hunt on Sunday.

The earliest, I shot a deer, was two-minutes after legal shooting time. I’ve only taken one deer on the last day.

The easiest deer hunt; I was sitting on a creek bank eating Pecan Sandies when a big buck appeared. The toughest was when I tracked a wounded buck for two days before finding him.

These are just a few of the memories I must reflect on when there is nothing to write about.

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Rick Bramwell

Rick L. Bramwell is 72 years old and began writing for the Anderson Herald Bulletin in 1972. He likes to hunt small game, deer, turkey and morel mushrooms. Bramwell’s 174-7/8 typical whitetail is the largest ever taken in Madison County. He used to compete in Red Man and BASS Federation tournaments, but is now content to fish ponds and small lakes for bass and panfish. For most of 43 years Bramwell has coached Baseball and softball. He has three grown children and resides in Madison County, near Pendleton.

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