Several years ago I told of a trip to the deer woods with my daughter where she found herself in a predicament of sorts that every deer hunter has encountered.
After swaying 20 feet up in the stand for a couple of hours and not seeing even a squirrel, Maggie leaned into me and quietly whispered, “Daddy, I’ve got to go.”
“Go where?” I asked, even though I knew where this was heading.
“I’ve got to pee!” she snapped back.
“You mean you didn’t go before we came out here?” I asked.
With the most pitiful look that she could gather, she sheepishly responded, “I knew I was s’posed to but I couldn’t. Didn’t need to then.”
There was no way that I was going to let her get over on me that easy. After all, despite all of my preaching to her about it, this has always been a regular occurrence on our hunting excursions.
One way or another, I was determined that she was going to learn to go before leaving our cabin or just suffer through it and wait. After 10 or 15 minutes had passed and I was confident that my point had been made, I finally caved.
“Well, OK,” I said. “I guess if ya gotta go, ya gotta go. Still, you’re not gettin’ down from here to do it.”
I explained to her that if she had to go that badly, she was just going to have to “drop trou’” right in that ladder stand, sit on the cold, steel mesh floor with her feet on the top rung and let it flow.
“Seriously?” she raised.
Within a matter of seconds, there she was in all her glory. Britches below her knees, legs dangling, teeth chattering and a look of pure relief on her face.
As she stood back up and started to reach for her little camouflaged pants, I caught her completely by surprise when I softly but sternly instructed, “Maggie, don’t move.”
“What is it, daddy?” she asked.
I motioned with my eyes for her to look to our left.
Wouldn’t you know it? Just as she was baring her rear to all of the critters of the woods, two deer had decided to step on out for a closer look.
I told her to go ahead and ease her pants back up and slide back into her seat. If she was real lucky, she might just be able to get a shot on one of them.
Despite never paying us or her aerial antics any attention whatsoever, both deer had moved into a position that didn’t offer an ethical shot by the time the rifle was raised. Maggie was a bit disappointed but I knew that the story we’d be taking home was far more memorable than any deer I’ve ever harvested.
As the last seconds of light faded into an even colder darkness, we climbed down and made the trek back to where my truck was parked.
Mags was pretty quiet on the return trip to the cabin but she made it known that she had been giving the whole scenario from that hunt some thought.
“Daddy, I thought you weren’t s’posed to ‘go’ in the woods like that ‘cause it scares the deer away but those deer weren’t bothered by it at all!” she exclaimed.
I couldn’t help but laugh because, even at her young age, she had already been suckered in by one of the biggest myths of the sport and it’s one that has had hunters scratching their heads in wonder for ages. In fact, some even carry the foolishness so far as to tote a bottle into the tree just for that very purpose.
“Well, think about it, Maggie,” I said. “We both know that deer are pretty smart animals but do you really think they can walk around, sniff the ground and say, ‘That one’s a human. This one over here is a fox and over by that big oak was a raccoon?’ They don’t have a clue and don’t know one type from another. They might know it’s not from another deer but beyond that they can’t tell any better than you or I can.”
I went on to explain to her that the biggest giveaway that we hunters have to worry about is the unnatural scents that our clothes or our bodies put off. Whether it’s sweat, soap or smoke from cigarettes and campfires, every little thing that we come in contact with while in the woods retains that odor from us and deer immediately recognize this as something that doesn’t belong.
The memory of that day quickly returned to my thoughts this past week, as I found myself in Kansas perched in a tree for hours on end.
At one point I found myself having to go badly. So badly, that there was no way that I could even make it long enough to climb down from the stand.
So what did I do? Well, just as Maggie did, I went.
Within just a few minutes of having done so, I was staring at a handful of deer that had wandered into my set-up. They hung out in my area for almost an hour and even went so far as to meander right underneath my stand into the area that I had just saturated before their arrival.
Not once did they have any reaction to what I had done which once and for all that there is absolutely no need to worry about what you’re gonna do when deer hunting and nature calls.
Brad Harvey is a freelance writer in Clover. Visit his website at www.bradharveyoutdoors.com or follow him on Twitter @BHarveyOutdoors