First off, my closing words on Friday were advice on how to enjoy your weekend: don’t watch the Badgers play football on Saturday. Was I right or was I right?
Now, throat cleared, I want to write about something more cheerful and profound: the annual tightening of the stands. This is the literal opposite of what Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Michels is doing metaphorically on abortion. He’s loosening his stand, reversing himself to now say that he would allow for the procedure in cases of rape and incest, thus catapulting himself all the way into the mid-twentieth century.
In any event, tightening stands is something we do in preparation for fall deer hunting. It’s the first station of the cross in the run up to the big event, which in this case is not crucifixion but opening day of gun deer season, a much happier outcome.
Deer stands are secured to a tree by two straps. After the hunt or in the spring the straps are loosened to account for growth of the tree during the summer. So, in the fall, the deer hunters need to get out there and tighten them back up so that the stands are steady and safe for the hunt.
The tightening of the stands is actually just one task that needs to get done now before bow hunting starts in October. Shooting lanes need to be opened, new stands need to be sighted and erected, and old stands need to be moved to just the right spot. Also, long debates need to take place about where “just the right spot” is exactly. I have learned through long experience the futility of pointing out that when a guy moves his stand to the spot that was just right last season the deer tend to move themselves to where the stand was the previous year. This is a waste of time. Just ask, “where do you want it?” and pick the thing up.
I’m told that there are something like 22 stands on the Jordahl Farm, but we added a couple this year, so I’m thinking it’s now something closer to an even two dozen. I’m further told that that’s just the bow hunting or dual purpose stands. Add in blinds used for gun hunting and we approach three dozen. Can’t have too many.
Anyway, Saturday was a fine day in the woods, if a little soggy. After helping on other projects, I spent the better part of an hour with a pair of loppers tidying up around the box blind I usually hunt from on opening morning. The day was topped off with a couple beers and a venison steak dinner.
To non-hunters — and to the wrong kind of hunters — deer hunting is all about killing deer. It is not. I haven’t shot a deer in four years and I love the whole thing. Deer hunting isn’t even just one nine day gun hunt or the October and early November bow hunt. It’s an entire year of anticipation that pretty much starts with the close of the season in the previous year.
But the tightening of the stands is the true ramp up to the main event. It’s only a matter of time now.
Welcome to Midwest, an occasional Sunday morning feature here at YSDA, where we explore what’s good about the center. Want to read more about why it’s good to be in the middle? Pick up a copy of Light Blue: How center-left moderates can build an enduring Democratic majority.