Saturday, the 22nd began like any other morning of a hunt. Matt and I had decided to head back to where we've seen a large buck in a bachelor group. Matt chose the ladder stand in the cedar that I killed my spike out of last weekend. I decided to use my climber and setup in a spot we haven't used yet.
We meet at 6:10 and head toward the stands. I end up walking through 6 foot high weeds that have a heavy dew on them as I make my way to the tree. There really isn't any way to avoid it. I have only been to the tree once before when we cleared shooting lanes. I get through the 50 yards of weeds and am pretty soaked. Did I mention it's 50 degrees? Time to come up with a different game plan for the rest of the season as temperatures continue to drop. I wander into the general area of the tree and spot it right away. This is the first year that I have owned a climber and the second year of using one, so to say that I'm slow in getting setup when using it is a serious understatement.
When hunting, I put my phone on complete silent, no vibrating, and dim the screen as low as possible. The vibrating puts off a tone of sorts and with a deer's keen sense of hearing, the last thing I want is an out of place sound generated by a text or a tweet. God forbid it be against something metal when it goes off.
It takes me about 25-30 minutes to climb the tree and get setup. I will give myself the fact that the tree had some of those Virginia Creeper vines on it. Those are the ones that get up to the size of your wrist and cling directly to the tree. The tree also required that my climber be adjusted to the shortest cable length possible. I hook up my safety harness and the camera arm. It's already shooting light. I check my phone. A missed call and several texts from Matt. What the heck happened now? I read the texts. "Stand's gone" "Are you ok?". A quick call to him confirms that the ladder stand in the cedar tree has been stolen sometime in the last week. He is now sitting in the other ladder stand near there. If I hadn't brought my climber, one of us would be hunting from the ground or we would be going home.
The sit in the stand is rather uneventful with my thoughts lost on when the stand was stolen, who stole it, and where they took it. It is only a $50 ladder stand, but the fact that someone would take it and walk a mile to the nearest parking area baffles me. Blue Jays invade the area. Apparently something about the tree next to mine has them going nuts. Luckily, none of them sound the alarm. About 9am, I decide to get down and go look at the crime scene. Matt and I get to the area and start looking around. I find a cigarette butt and can still smell the burnt tobacco. It hasn't been but maybe a day or two max. We look up in the tree and there's an empty Monster energy drink can laying on top of some the branches. We are thinking the stand was spotted previously then the perpitrator came back, hunted the stand, and then took the stand with him while leaving his trash behind. He smokes Marlboro lights and you better believe we are keeping an eye out for him.
Sunday, we took a ladder stand of mine back in to replace the stolen one. This one weighs about twice as much. Matt purchased 3 kevlar bike locks and we secured the section of the stand tightly together, the top section to the tree, and the top two section to a branch of the tree. If this one is gone, I'll be surprise if the tree is still standing.
Since when was all respect and common courtesy for other hunters lost in our tradition? I know we're on public land, but it still amazes me the lengths that some people will go through to show their true colors. Who else has had experiences with disrespectful hunters, trespassers, thieves, and all around low-lifes while in the woods?