November 04, 2010
By Donald Baker
You have deer but no trees to hold a treestand? This bow-hunter has a solution for you.
By Donald Baker
Some of my favorite places to hunt are open, weedy fields where the competition from other hunters is virtually nonexistent -- and where trees are nonexistent. I've tried hunting on the ground but have found it to be a bowhunter's worst nightmare. Deer living in treeless terrain can detect a hunter on the ground long before the hunter ever sees the deer.
To take this photo, I carried my Predator Pod to the spot where the doe fell. For hunting cornfields and other tree-less cover, tripod stands have serious potential.
For years, I had thought about buying a tripod stand for hunting deer in these treeless areas, but I could never find one that was mobile enough. The lightest one I could find stood 10 feet high, but it was too bulky for moving around. Not wanting to spend money on something that might end up in the garage collecting dust -- I'm pretty thrifty -- I decided to hunt from the ground until something better came along, or to stick with my usual treestands in the timber.
Then, in 2006, Summit introduced its Predator Pod stand. Measuring six feet tall at the seat and weighing only 40 pounds, the Predator Pod was lighter and more compact than any other tripods I'd seen. The steps attached to the legs of the tripod would allow me to stand easily and draw my bow. And I'd be able to carry the stand on my shoulder, giving me the advantage of setting it up quickly to hunt places other hunters pass up. Further, it would fit in the bed of my truck with the tailgate closed, making for easy transport.
As I anxiously opened the package containing the stand, reality set in on just how small the tripod was. I hadn't even given the contraption a whirl yet and was already having second thoughts. To increase my doubt, skeptical friends and coworkers raised their eyebrows. They thought the tripod was too low. Deer would bust me before ever coming within bow range.
But I could not back down now. I would just have to find out for myself if this thing would work.
For a trial run, I set my new tripod in the middle of a clump of red brush I'd trimmed-out well in advance. I carried my bow in one hand and balanced the tripod on the other shoulder with my arm wrapped around the legs. When I opened the legs of the tripod, the braces toward the top locked in, making it rock solid. Climbing up to the seat was almost too easy.
With my bow in one hand and the bottom bow limb braced on the seat between my legs, I found the stand to be very comfortable. My deer calls were attached to the back of the chair. The view from my perch was excellent, and I could swivel completely around for a full panorama. Painted a dull primer grey, the stand blended in well.
One week of hunting proved inconclusive. A small buck, bedded 45 yards away under a small thorny tree, picked me off while I was spinning around in my cozy chair. One windy morning, two does suddenly appeared, scurrying around me, just out of range.
From afar, I would spot deer and try to bring them in closer with calls but to no avail. My 46-year-old shoulders and biceps had visible bruises from carrying the stand. I was beginning to think this stand was designed with gun hunters in mind. For the time being, I would put the stand in the garage and go back to my normal routine.
On October 30, 2006, I decided to give the tripod another try, this time in a standing cornfield. I placed the stand along a strip of oak trees in the back corner of the field, three rows in, facing toward the wood line. The oaks were dropping acorns along the edge of the corn and into the edge of a clover field on the other side. The cornstalks were six to seven feet high, giving me good cover. I had a nice, wide-open row to shoot through if a deer passed by the outer edge.
Hunting in the corn was a rush. Two does walked through the clover field and across the wood line right to the edge of the cornfield, where they browsed on acorns 40 yards away. Just before dark, one of the does started heading my way. When her head came into the opening at an unbelievable six yards, I thought, This contraption just might work. She heard me draw my bow as her shoulder started to come into view and almost didn't give me enough room for a shot. I held my draw, with the pin quivering tight to her shoulder and the cornstalk. The doe jumped as the arrow passed through her, and then she aimlessly ran through the wood line, across the clover field, and into a blackberry thicket.
I was certain the doe was dead in that blackberry thicket, but by the time I got my tripod and other gear back to my vehicle, it was late and I was dead tired. It would be cool enough overnight that I didn't have to worry about meat spoilage. So I decided to leave her until morning.
At first light I headed out, armed with my camera gear and knife. To my shock, the heavy blood trail came to an end underneath another bowhunter's treestand. Apparently, when I didn't show up right away to retrieve the deer, a hunter in the treestand decided she belonged to him. My doe tag went unfilled -- and I still had not taken a deer from my tripod.
With the 2007 Pennsylvania archery season just about to open, I was determined to prove that my tripod would fill a niche in my deer-hunting scheme. The meat from my previous year's buck was gone, and I had a hankering for some tasty corn-fat doe.
On opening morning, I parked my truck at the Snow farm. After spraying down my Scent-Lok suit, I walked across the road toward my tripod stand, which I had set up the day before between two fields of standing corn near a brushy fence line.
About 9 a.m., two does walked out of the corn across from me. The lead doe was big and fat. She stopped right in front of me as my bow came to full draw with the sight pin locked on the middle of her chest. The old doe looked past me as the arrow sliced right through her.
As she wheeled and plowed headfirst into the cornfield, I could hear the cornstalks snapping in the direction of her final run. Moments later, while trying to get my composure, I heard a noise behind me. Slowly, I turned my head to see a 5-pointer stretch out his neck and almost touch his wet nose on the leg of my stand. With a startled look on his face, he spun and dashed back into the corn.
Immediately, I went home and got my daughter to let her trail the deer. Michelle had no trouble following the trail and finding my deer lying in an open strip of clover. Upon seeing the doe there, I felt as if I had found the solution for hunting places where deer are abundant but trees are nonexistent. It stands on three legs.
Notes: In the off-season, I started weightlifting twice a week. Incorporating weights into my exercise regimen has made carrying the tripod a breeze. To make carrying a tripod more comfortable, I suggest tying padding on the legs of the stand or wearing extra clothes to pad your shoulders. You might even try making a sling so you can use both arms while carrying the stand by your side.
When using a tripod on fence lines and open fields, try to set the stand where it is hidden. Minimize your movement, and be careful with the wind. Most tripods seem to be the ideal height for hunting in cornfields and easily can be set up between the rows without breaking the cornstalks.
My equipment included a Mathews LX bow set at 60 lbs., Gold Tip arrows tipped with Eastman Outfitters' FirstCut broadheads, Primos calls, Scent-Lok clothing, and Summit's Predator Pod tripod stand. For more information on the Predator Pod, go to www.summitstands.com.
The author works in a lumber mill in Titusville, Pennsylvania. He and his family make their home in Centerville.