Am I alone here? Could I quite possibly be one of the only hunters in North America who has not yet hunted whitetail? When I mention this little confession in hunting circles I encounter reactions something akin to what lepers must have felt in the 1700’s. It’s true, I have hunted muleys, elk, bear, turkey and even gator…but not the proverbial mainstay of our hunting culture…whitetail.
I am embarking on this journey in early November and heading up to Saskatchewan with Tracey Splechter of Outdoor Connections. I am thrilled to be able to attempt my first whitetail hunt in such an amazing area with a good friend. The adventure will undoubtedly result in some great stories. I am armed with every sort of scent elimination, hand warmers, cold weather gear and my trusty Remington. I am ready.
But as the hunt approaches, I realize I have some very serious concerns…
I cannot sit still. At all. I have fidgetiness that rivals that of a 9 year old with undiagnosed ADHD. In fact, when I was a kid, my mom used to get very exasperated at the fact that I was always moving, picking and fidgeting. (Luckily I got past the picking part) “You ooze nervous energy”, she would lament. Now, as I start to ponder how I will maintain a sedate posture for five days, I start to sweat a little. I am realizing that I am going to have to steel myself with the mental fortitude of the Dali Lama. Seriously. This is going to be an issue for me. I have already had visions of my guide looking at me and wondering out loud why I am flopping about like I am having a seizure and politely requesting me to sit still. My response is always this, “I AM sitting still”. Am I cut out for tree stand hunting? I am quite certain that spot and stalk methods were created for stillness-impaired people like me. Am I going to be that one client that the outfitter jokes about for years to come?
OK, while I am apparently in the ‘whitetail confessionals’, is it too late to also mention that I have a small fear of heights? Yeah. I do. As I scanned the photos from the outfitters website, I noticed the true height of some of these stands. I noted a slight wave of nausea when I took in all of this information. Those suckers are HIGH! Of course, safety harnesses are a must as they will certainly save one from the horrible fate of hitting the ground. I am wondering if psychologically I could survive a fall, even with a safety harness. Would I scream like a four year old? Would I wet my pants? Would I turn catatonic? How would the outfitter explain all of this to my poor family? I envision it going something like this, “I am not sure exactly what happened, Mr. Pike, but we found her hanging there drooling and babbling incoherently. Do you want us to send her back to you?” Mr. Pike then considers his options, mulls it over and finally relents.
I have been counseled by many ardent whitetail hunters who inform me that I need to bring a book and my cell phone to play games. This is also a first. While I am utterly relieved to know that I will have a bit of mental diversion, I have to admit that I have never had to bring my Augusten Burroughs collection into the woods with me. I am now worried I will get too engrossed in my book to notice that trophy buck under my stand. I am beginning to think I need therapy.
I must admit that after obsessively rolling these scenarios over in my brain for the past two weeks, I have come to one conclusion. Perhaps my paralyzing fear of heights will indeed keep me still. Hey! Problem solved.
Now…what if I drop my book…