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Legend of the Fall

By Scott Semingson

Legend of the Fall

I am 51 years old at this writing and have been hunting white-tailed deer for 39 years. I am fortunate to live in an area of Wisconsin where bucks have the genetics to become trophies.

I have had many learning experiences while trying to harvest these bucks. On one hunt in particular, I found that making too much noise can be the ticket to a wallhanger.

As with most early-morning hunts, I was being as quiet as possible walking to my hunting spot, which was near near a field of standing corn.

I built the stand with metal brackets to connect to a tree and used treated lumber for the deck. The ladder was constructed with treated 2 by 4s.

While placing the ladder against the tree, I hooked one of the rungs over a branch. This kept the bottom of the ladder off the ground about 6 inches. I thought this was great idea — or at least it seemed so at the time.

I made it to the stand making very little noise. Everything was set for a great morning hunt. I began to climb the ladder.

About 10 feet into the climb, I found myself falling backward. The branch on which I’d hooked the ladder snapped. The ladder was still in my hands when I hit the ground.

I landed in a brushpile. I lay there for a few seconds wondering if all my body parts were still working. I didn’t feel any pain. I pushed the ladder off me, stood up, and leaned the ladder back up against the tree.

I was not hurt. I decided to continue with my hunt even though I had already made enough noise to scare every animal out of the woods.

As I was making my way back up the ladder, I noticed something was missing — my bow! I dug around in the brush trying to spot it with my flashlight. Nothing. It had disappeared.

The sun was beginning to rise, and I could now see without a flashlight. I climbed in the tree stand to look for my bow. I spotted it 25 feet away in the branches of a downed tree. The only thing I could figure was the bow string got caught in the ladder as I was tipping over, and shot out like a slingshot when it released.

Down I went to retrieve my bow, snapping branches, pushing through brush and just making a whole lot more noise.

Back in the stand, I didn’t think anything could get worse, but it did. My arrow rest had bent during the fall.

I had just about had it with this hunt. I proceeded to bend the rest back to where I thought it had been, knocked an arrow and shot it at leaf on the ground, good to go.

All of this had taken place over a period of about 45 minutes. After making all of that crashing and banging noise in the brush, I thought I might as well bang some rattling horns together and do some grunting.

I don’t know how far away the buck had been when my ordeal started, but he came running in with his ears back looking for a fight when he heard the rattling. He must’ve thought the noise was a couple of bucks fighting. The rattling and grunting was too much for him to ignore.

I arrowed the buck at about 20 yards.

This is a hunt I will remember for as long as I live and will use the lesson to harvest bucks in the future. Too much noise is sometimes just enough.

Editor’s note: The author was fortunate not only to harvest a buck, but also to walk away from his hunt unscathed. Each year, more hunters are injured or killed by falls from tree stands than any other cause. Always wear a safety device while climbing into and hunting from elevated stands. Also, heed manufacturers’ instructions when setting up and using these stands. For more information on tree stand safety, visit the Tree Stand Manufacturers Association at www.treestandinfo.com.

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