In the Tree Stands

Josh Rouse

Disclaimer: Nothing Josh Rouse says should be taken literally. Ever.

Few days are as exciting to the avid sportsman as the first day of hunting season.

The preparation begins for many hunters at the nearest Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shop or whatever (blank)-Mart is closest. With a sparkle in their eye, it’s almost as though Christmas has come early, each overpriced item looking as valuable as the next. In the world of sporting goods, there are no wants – only needs.

After all of the needs are met (or whenever the buyer runs out of money), it becomes a waiting game. Whether the hunter watches hunting videos, practices shooting or blows duck calls all day until the neighbor calls the cops, this is the most strenuous part of the season.

As the magical day approaches, a few more paychecks will be demolished in the sporting goods section. Honestly, if you’re an outdoorsman, you can never have enough woolen socks or camouflaged hats.


Getting to bed before the news comes on, waking up at ungodly hours, finding the best spot to bring down the game you seek. All the best plans are laid out for the first day of hunting.

Of course, even the best of plans are foiled that first day. Excitement makes sleep impossible, and when you don’t get to bed until midnight, a 3 a.m. wake-up call soon becomes 6 a.m. By the time he or she has dragged his or her sleepy butt out of bed and donned the hodgepodge of camo clothing, the average hunter has already lost his hunting spot to the early bird and has to settle for plan B.

The first day of any hunting season is always the busiest. This is when the game is least aware of human presence, which basically makes it a clearance sale for hunters. Everything must go. Consider it the day after Thanksgiving for hunting. Be early, have a plan and try not to get shot.


The best way to hunt is by staying focused and concentrating on your surroundings. Patience is the key, and 99 percent of hunters have A.D.D. While it’s easy to be “in the zone” for the first 20 minutes or so, it’s a different story after that first hour has passed. Many a hunter have come home empty-handed because they were too busy playing Tetris on their cell phones.

Speaking of which, here’s a handy little tip: Don’t get a camouflage cover for your cell phone. Trust me, when the ringer goes off because you forgot to put it on vibrate, it doesn’t matter what you have on the cover because that deer you’re stalking is 1,000 yards away and laughing its head off at you.

The camo really does work, though. If it drops out of your pocket in the middle of the forest, you’ll never be able to find it again.


Now, let’s say you had a really good day in the field. It’s considered very unsportsmanlike to brag or boast to a less successful hunter.

For instance, let’s say you harvest a 10-point deer and your buddy shoots… a cow. You can always say something nice, like “Well, you won’t have to buy hamburger for a while” or “I can see how that might have confused you.”

However, if the other person makes a rude remark about your deer, it is perfectly acceptable to come back with “Did you get the baby cow, too?”


Now, while most hunters TRY to abide by the rules and regulations, some are a little more covert in their operations. While the more experienced cheaters know ways to get away with their actions, every year more and more people get caught.

If you find yourself in a troublesome situation with the law, there are a few key phrases to get you out of a tight bind. These phrases include:

“I left my license in my other camo pants.”

“Sir, I know it’s hard to believe, but I got all 50 of these in one shot.”

“I thought I was still on public property.”

And, my personal favorite, “HE DID IT!”

Stick to these and you will find a way to squirm out of trouble each and every time… sometimes.


While these tips are useful, it is up to you to make the most of each and every trip into the woods. A good hunter should be silent but deadly, and while that is not a fart reference, you should always take some Pepto before heading into the field.

Now you are ready to enjoy the thrills of hunting. … Go kill something!