Deer in the field

Doing Dumb Things in a Deer Stand Day 2:...

A hunter with his downed deer

Doing Dumb Things in a Deer Stand Day 4:...

12/08/2021 Comments (0) Bowhunting, Deer Hunting, Hunting Advice

Doing Dumb Things in a Deer Stand Day 3: Learning about Deer Tree Stand Problems

A deer in the field

Editor’s Note: I started deer hunting years before compound bows, tree stands, safety harnesses, GPS and the other advantages for deer hunting we have today were available. I’m a strong advocate of safe tree stands, full body harnesses and safety devices and equipment to make deer hunting safe and prevent tree stand falls. But in years past, I’ve made some not-so-bright decisions while hunting deer. I’ve spooked deer before and even have fallen out of a tree stand three times in the same day. I’ve shot 24 arrows in one afternoon at deer less than 30 yards from me and failed to cut a hair on them. I’ve fallen asleep in a tree stand. I’ve even dropped bows and other pieces of equipment from my tree stand. I’ve probably committed every sin a deer hunter possibly can commit when hunting from an elevated platform. This week I’ll share the truth with you about some of the dumbest things I’ve done in a tree stand over the years. You may see yourself mirrored in some of my misfortunes. Hopefully you can learn from my mistakes.

A deer in the fieldFor the third time (see Day 2), I grabbed the trunk of the tree and slid down the scaly bark like a fireman sliding down a fire pole. This time the bark ripped most of my t-shirt off, my stomach began to bleed badly, and I hardly could move my very-sore arms. However, when I looked across the field, Tom Gresham appeared to have seen nothing. He sat on his tree stand as quiet as the Tar Baby in one of Uncle Remus’ famous folk tales. Wounded, but determined, I decided to turn my tree stand to the backside of the tree. I hid in the bushes, so Gresham couldn’t see me and tightened the tree stand to hold tighter to the tree and at more of an angle to the tree. Then I started to climb once more.

By this time, both tired and sore, I only could climb about 6-feet off the ground. I pulled my bow with its quiver full of six arrows into the stand with me, nocked an arrow and clipped on my mechanical release. Just before dark, a big doe came down the trail, and I decided to shoot her. However, when I went to draw my bow, I only could pull the bow halfway back. My arms, my chest and my whole upper torso ached painfully. Realizing I couldn’t physically pull the bow back, I let the bow down, and the doe walked past me.

A hunter in a tree standJust as dark fell, I spotted Gresham climbing down from his tree stand. I let my bow down and came out of my stand. When I reached the ground, I tucked my shirt in and tried to look normal. I had a big wet spot on the front of my stomach, but you couldn’t see the red blood making the wet spot through my camouflage. My shirt and my pants looked well-worn from sliding down the tree. However, I figured that in the dark no one could tell how badly I got hurt.

When I met up with Gresham in the center of the field, he asked, “Did you see anything?” I answered, “Yeah, I had one doe come by my stand, but she didn’t get close enough to my stand for me to shoot her. How did you do?” He replied, “I missed one before dark, but I had a great afternoon. How did your afternoon go?” I said, “I had a pretty good afternoon.”
By this time we could see the lights of the truck waiting to pick us up and carry us back to camp. We walked to the edge of the field, put our stands and bows in the back and climbed into the truck. The driver asked me first if I’d seen anything. I reported having seen the doe that never came in close enough to shoot (a complete lie).

A hunter in the fieldWhen he asked Gresham the same question, Gresham laughed out loud before he finally calmed down long enough to say, “I saw an idiot slide down a tree three times before he tightened-up his tree stand. I couldn’t believe John didn’t kill himself. John, that tree had to have eaten you up! Let me see your stomach.” Well, Gresham had revealed my secret. Like a little kid who got caught with his hand in the cookie jar, I raised my shirt and showed the bloody mess that once was my stomach.

Cover: PHD Whitetails“I can’t believe that after the first time you slid down that tree you didn’t fix your tree stand, so it wouldn’t kick out on you,” Gresham said to me as he started laughing uncontrollably again. “Why didn’t you fix your stand?” I used the same tactic I’d always used with my mother when she caught me doing something stupid, and I really didn’t want to tell the truth. I just smiled and answered, “I don’t know. I guess I didn’t think the tree stand would fall the second and the third times.”

From that one experience, I learned that your ego could get you hurt and cause you to get hurt over and over again – unless you willingly admitted the truth and solved the problem.

Elk: Keys to 23 More Hunters' SuccessTo learn more about hunting for deer, check out John E. Phillips’ deer-hunting book, “PhD Whitetails: How to Hunt and Take the Smartest Deer on Any Property,” available in Kindle and print at and Audible at You may have to copy and paste this link into your browser. (When you click on this book, notice on the left where Amazon says you can read 10% of the book for free). On the right side of the page and below the offer for a free Audible trial, you can click on Buy the Audible book. To see more of John’s deer-hunting books, visit John’s latest book, “Elk: Keys to 23 More Hunters’ Success,” was just published in Audible on November 15, 2021, and is available in Kindle, print and Audible at You can find John’s book, “Jim Crumley’s Secrets of Bowhunting Deer,” available in Kindle and print and soon to be available in Audible at Jim Crumley's Secrets for Hunting Deer

Tomorrow: Surprising Deer from a Tree Stand

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *