posted on September 14, 2010 06:44
By Mike Handley
The scrape of metal against bark might not be the turnoff most hunters imagine it is.
Doomed since I froze midway along 30-foot-high scaffolding at age 17, I might never shoot a monster buck. My fear of heights isn’t as paralyzing as it was 32 years ago, but even being called a wimp cannot force me to step onto a climbing stand.
Ladders and some fixed-position models accessible by tree steps are okay, but that took some doing. Most still give me the heebie-jeebies.
Why then, you might wonder, given that dozens of jaw-dropping bucks are shot from the ground (and ladders, and lock-on-type stands) every year, do I say my chances at a huge whitetail are slim or slimmer?
Because unless I begin taking steel or aluminum rods in the woods with me, I’m fairly certain I cannot imitate the noise that has piqued more than one dominant buck’s curiosity. I’m talking about the metal-against-bark sound of a climber going up a tree. It makes most hunters wince, but the racket apparently drives some bucks crazy. Seems they can’t resist coming in for a peek at who or what is destroying the furniture in their houses.
I’ve been told this too many times not to believe it.
If you have doubts, just ask Bill Collins, a senior analyst for the U.S. Army, whose going-away present for his recent Kansas-to-Massachusetts move wore a bow with 21 points.
Bill had quit for the day, though plenty of daylight remained. He was jacking himself down the tree when an I’m-being-watched feeling overtook him. As soon as his boots touched the ground, he looked over and saw the biggest buck he’d ever beheld, staring at him from a mere 50 yards.
The deer, which had to have heard the ruckus, wasn’t overly concerned; it didn’t blow or turn on the afterburners. It just walked away, seemingly disappointed that it wasn’t another buck destroying one of its trees.
“There’s something about that noise – of coming down a tree – that seems to draw bucks,” Bill said. “Because I hunt only public lands and must carry a climber, that wasn’t the first time that’s happened to me … or to my brother.”
Bill didn’t shoot the buck that day, but he could’ve if he’d had a firearm or been confident of a 50-yard bow shot. He did take the time to wander over and check out the area into which it disappeared, though, and he was bowled over by the sign.
He returned on Oct. 22, 2009, with a favorable wind amidst a cold front. He left with a double-drop-tined whitetail.