This is the tenth part of a 12 part series covering my time spent with a Kansas Whitetail outfitter during his entire bow season.
Hunting out of treestands is not for everyone and during this bow season, I met someone who this rule applied to.
One of the nicest guys I ever met showed up to hunt deer on his first ever guided hunt. The outfitter asked him a little about his experience. He claimed that although he had never killed a deer with a bow, he had been practicing for a couple of years and felt confident that he could easily make it happen. With that, I was soon escorting this new hunter to his treestand for the day. I walked him into the actual tree as it was hard to find. As he climbed slowly up the ladder, I realized he didn’t know what to do.
I asked him if he was okay, thinking he might be experiencing some sort of physical discomfort. He informed me that he was okay, but that he had never been in a tree stand. I laughed out loud at his joke, but it was no joke. He had never been in a tree stand. That fact had never come up in our discussion of his experience. We all assumed that someone who pays for a guided bow hunt has experience in a treestand, but this one hadn’t.
As first light began to creep over the horizon, I quickly coached him on what to do and how to do it. It took him 15 minutes to climb a 20 foot stick ladder. I watched in agony as he tried several times to get the courage to swing himself into the stand from the comfort of the ladder in the glare of my red headlamp. He finally made it into the stand, and it took another 10 minutes to get his harness hooked up. It was already first light when pulled his gear up with the pull-up rope. I left him at his assurance that he would be fine.
As it turned out, he was not only new to treestands, but he was afraid of heights. We all felt bad that these facts had not come up, but he should have said something to at least tip us off. He spent the rest of the week hunting out of ground blinds and he got a shot at a nice buck.
I envy him for his courage and for going with the flow, but I felt terrible that he had to be baptized by fire. What a great guy though.