Heers wut ya git!

Pull up a seat and read a little. If you are from WV you are probably like me and have never learned to read so get someone to read it to you. I'm Skully, my friend Mike listens to me and translates my words from Hickglish to English. He is familiar with the ways of folks from other areas, and can communicate readily with the general populace.
(Fetch ya a char an lisen ta wuts heer. If’n yer frum West Verginua yu r proly lak me an ain’t had no reedin ejukashun so git sumbudy to reed it to ya. I’m Skully, ma frend Mak lisens ta mee an translates ma werds frum normul to wut them thar hi falootin peepole talks. He nows how to talk to outciders an can speek thar langwige.)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

3 years ago, it hasn't changed much

Tree Stand 09/2005
Michael R. Milstead

It is that time of year again when a young (or not so young), man’s thoughts turn to the woods. The leaves are taking a long hard look at the ground but not showing any signs of being in a hurry, though the poplars are yellowing from the lack of rain and fifty degree nights. The fruit of the Oak, Hickory and Walnut are still green but nearly ready to provide sustenance to the residents of the forest. Fluffy seeds are flying in the late summer breeze, the peaches are in, the pears and apples are ready, the grapes are very close to optimum sweetness and the animals are growing restless as are the hunters.

A seemingly long awaited joy for me was seeing the constellation Orion for the first time this year. I arose with my wife’s 4:30 AM alarm, made some thick strong coffee and began preparing for the first day of hunting. I actually started preparing several months ago, in April. Preparation included painting my “double-wide” tree stand and making sure to get a bow practice session at least every two weeks.

Today (Labor Day) I completed a big job; setting up my tree stand. This stand is the first that I’ve used; it is a fifteen-foot “two-man-ladder stand”. I bought it last year and discovered that it is exceptionally comfortable for one man, it is twice as wide as a regular stand and would be great for introducing one of my grandchildren to hunting, but I don’t see fitting two grown men in this stand although the stand would take the weight of two men, this is another plus, all that room and complete stability.

After bidding my wife a fond farewell at 5:15 AM I loaded my trusty, rusty truck. The chainsaw, gas and bar oil, twenty-foot extension ladder, toolbox, new ratchet straps and a cooler with apples, a cheese sandwich and some water. The temperature had dropped considerably compared to a week ago. Last week the 6AM temperature was in the upper seventies with humidity in the upper nineties. This morning was an unbelievable fifty-nine degrees with a light breeze, it was wonderful, the crisp autumn scent is not in the air yet but it is not far off.

I arrived at the vineyard around 6AM; it was just getting light so I decided to take care of a chore or two in the winery. There is always something that needs to be done, little five and ten-minute jobs are easily found and I enjoy doing work that is not mandatory. After installing some custom wiring for the new “under-cabinet” lighting in the kitchen, it was 7AM and time to get started on the work that I had eagerly awaited all week.

I locked in the hubs on my good friend; my old Ford F150, and headed for the access road across the valley. The trip to the cabin usually takes all of two or three minutes but today there were five oak trees in the road, these will make the winter days at the winery and the nights at the cabin very comfortable. The new chain on the saw made quick work of the fallen trees and I was soon at my beloved cabin. Loading the big tree stand and ladder sections, I locked the cabin and headed for the pond area. The road was totally dry so I was able to back down almost to the waters edge. I then only had to make four trips of one hundred or so yards to the tree that my wife and I had tied with orange ribbon back in March. The frogs were thick in the pond and their greeting was startling but welcome as always. The load wasn’t bad but I had to take a break after everything was delivered to the tree. Now the fun had begun. I extended the extension ladder to the maximum length of twenty feet and found a level spot behind the tree. It would be a good idea to have a strap to tie around the top of the ladder and the tree for added stability. I’m not very good with heights but if the job is a worthy effort I will get it done; and this job is very worthy. I got up the ladder and with a “death-grip” on the top of the ladder with my left hand I reached around the right side of the tree as far as I could and screwed in a stout hook, hung the “come-a-long” on it and proceeded down the ladder with the steel cable and connected it to the platform/seating part of the tree stand. After hoisting the stand up the tree, lashing it securely and installing another hook higher in the tree, moving everything several times and re-discovering the true super-genius of the inventor of “vise-grips” I got the stand positioned to allow a test fitting of the ladder portion of the stand (whew!).

Imagine; placing a one-inch square end of a ladder into a one-inch square socket that is fifteen feet up a tree; this is tricky to say the least. I made about five or six trips up and down the extension ladder to make adjustments to the platform section before I was successful in getting the ladder inserted into it. Several more trips up and down and I was ready to lock it down with the four ratchet straps. The stand came with two ratchet straps but I am a firm believer in overkill; my cabin is twelve feet wide and sixteen feet long; the number of cinderblock piers used under the cabin for support are the same number used for a fourteen by seventy foot mobile home. Overkill is a way of life.

With the stand in place I went in search of rocks to level the bottom of the ladder portion of the stand, with the rocks in place I made the climb to the top. In a tree stand, the air is a little fresher, the breeze a little more dry and chilled and the sun brings the scents of the woods up and holds them like a wonderful gift under your nose. Everyone should have a tree stand even non-hunters. It is a wondrous experience and very relaxing. The stand is perfectly solid and level and finished in time to have several practice sessions with my bow from the high perch. I took a moment to just sit and listen…the woods are alive and from where I sit I can see, smell and feel the life. I wonder what would happen if everyone knew what this was like? Returning to my truck with the toolbox and extension ladder I returned to the winery and had a wonderful lunch with the proprietor. The woods are available to everyone. It is a simple thing to partake in the miracles that happen every second of every day and night in the woods yet it seems that these wonders as well as many others have been forgotten by so many in the hurried existence that so many of us choose. I wonder if I will be able to return next week for one of the early morning bow practice sessions. I sure hope so…

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