Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. ~Ephesians 6:4
With my previous post, I outlined the events that led us to this moment, the reason for this trip. What It Takes to Move a Tree Stand
As we moved forward, what did my eyes catch sight of? Yes, the tree stand! Positioned gloriously against a tree about ten feet off of the ground, dressed in camouflage burlap. It was at that moment, I heard the angels sing Alleluia, while the sun shined on the stand as if revealing a pot of gold. We have arrived at our destination. Now, what did we need to do? Ah, yes, we needed to take it down, move it up the hill and set it back up again. Easy enough. Not really.
Dad, took off up through the brush to scope out a new home for our tree stand. Kyle took that as an opportunity to climb up and hang out in the elevated platform. Me? I just stood there swatting mosquitoes until I joined dad to force him to make a quick decision, so we could wrap this adventure up and go take showers.
As I was walking away from Kyle, he yelled “Hey Aunt Heather where are you going?” I told him to see what his pappy was doing, which was maybe one hundred fifty yards away. Kyle said, “Wait! I want to come, but I can’t get down by myself.” I was cracking up! He was too afraid to use the ladder to get down, even though he had no trouble getting up, nor playing around while sitting in the tree stand. I gave him detailed instructions on how to safely exist the landing, but he insisted someone had to help him down. I left him. I know that sounds mean, but it was kind of funny and I knew he was probably safer up there than anywhere else. What’s even funnier, he didn’t seem to mind. Maybe a little quite time by himself was good for his soul, or not.
The whole time I was talking with dad and helping him pick a new location, Kyle would yell “Hey guys, what are you doing?” and “Hello?” then the eventually annoying “Echo, echo, echo”. Kyle is seriously a funny kid and he doesn’t even know it.
Once dad found the perfect spot, he said, “Ok, let’s go get our buddy out of the tree and move this stand.” He asked, “Did he climb up there all by himself?” Yep. Dad was pleased with that, that meant Kyle was not afraid and dad could count on Kyle to hunt in the tree stand during deer season. Whatever! Let’s get this show on the road.
Now back to the dreaded tree stand. I guess I never thought it through, but it dawned on me as I was sitting up, hovering over the ground, looking down into briar bushes, fallen trees and Lord knows what else, that eventually the tree stand would not be secured to the tree anymore. That is, once I unhinge it, however to do that I needed to be in the tree stand. What a predicament! Dad’s reply? “No, no, you have another one down below and you’ll be partway down the ladder when you loosen that.” Not really encouraging dad! Of course, dad’s response to my comment about me falling was, “Well the jagger bushes will catch your fall.” Nice.
I did manage to loosen some of the straps, but for the life of me, I really couldn’t get them to release. So I had to send my dad, who is in his sixties and is seriously overweight up the unstable tree stand to finish removing the supports. I stood at the bottom holding the ladder, along with Kyle, as if that was security. I turned to Kyle and remarked, “If pappy goes you’re catching him.” With concern on Kyle’s face he just gave me a grunt and half grin, trying to joke along while realizing the possibility. I think we were both holding our breath and saying big prayers at this point.
We did manage to release the tree stand from the tree and get dad down safely. Then, came the heavy lifting. The tree stand was metal with an attached ladder. It was heavy! Especially after all the walking and exertion of getting it down, not to mention the realization of hauling it up a hill about one hundred and fifty yards, through tall brush, briars, unsteady ground, over fallen trees, while being mauled by mosquitoes. Easy enough.
What was Kyle doing for the better part of this time? I found out later he was video tapping me in the tree stand. I’m sure, he was hoping for some action to be caught on tape. And since that didn’t keep his interest, he continued to play with the feather.
The feature. We found this feather while walking to get to our destination and it became the focus of our attention during down times. I used it as a fan to help with the flying pest situation around my head, and to help get some moving air through the stuffy environment. Kyle too found entertainment in the simple object. That feature made it the whole way back with us. Not just out of the woods, or to the motel, the whole way back to good old Latrobe, Pennsylvania. It was a really neat feather.
Anyway, as we carried this beast of a stand up the hill, we almost passed up our carefully selected tree. And let me tell you, I felt sick once we got there, as I know dad did. Sick, as in exhaustion and dehydration. I even sent Kyle to the quad to get us something to drink, especially dad who had to rest on a log. That kid started to walk up the hill, (the quad was down the hill maybe fifty feet). Kyle got lost, not lost that we didn’t know where he was, but he couldn’t find the quad at all! Even though I pointed in the direction and I could see the lights reflecting from it through the trees. As we watched Kyle maneuver around while resting, me and dad found that funny and called him back.
Next? Now we had to get the tree stand up and secured, then we were told we’d be on our way. It was a bugger getting that thing up, even to just lean it against the tree. Dad did most of the work. Once the tree stand was leaning, and somewhat stabilized against the tree, I climbed up in it to fully secure it.
That proved to be a bugger as well. My arms are only so long, and trying to throw the straps around the tree, which was split, proved to be quite a tough task. I had to lean out over the tree stand to grab the straps. Did I mention it was only standing upright because it was leaning on the tree and we were on a light hill? I told the old man, he better hold onto the ladder, because if I’d go flying and I can’t work, Aunt Nikki won’t be too happy. He just laughed and said, “O you’ll be alright. Come on, once we get the straps on, we’re done and we can leave.” Score!
Eventually, I got the straps around the tree to give the tree stand some stability. Naturally, I couldn’t tighten the clamps like dad, so dad had to get up there to thoroughly secure the touch points. He also thought in advance and put another strap for an additional reinforcement. Evidently, dad was planning on having all three of us in this tree stand. I’m not so sure about that one. Although, I’m saving that argument for a later date. I must say, Kyle and I fit comfortably on the seat, side-by-side.
The whole time we were there, dad stared at the newly relocated tree stand sporting a huge grin. He did cut down a few small trees around it, one of which I thought was going to take down the new addition. I said, “Dad if that tree would have hit the tree stand and knock it down, I was going to leave.” Kyle busted out laughing and dad joined in saying, “Yes, I guess that would be our luck.” Dad kept peeking up at the stand and in his head, laying out the options in which we could shoot deer, depending on how they approached us. I know he was envisioning herds of deer running all along the woods below are feet, while all three of us shot down. This is dad’s candy store. Nothing makes him happier than shooting, especially with his family. He kept talking about the size of the deer and the racks on the local bucks. He kept saying that’s what’s in store for us this hunting season. Then, he would go off into, how much deer meat we were going to have this winter. Only dad!
Done? Not quite yet. We had to make it back out and since dad initially made his own trail to find the tree stand that was eluding us, he wanted to stick to the established road, clearing it out for deer season. We found the road pretty easily, but it was seriously overgrown and soggy from all the rain earlier in the week.
It took us as long to get out of the woods as it did to set up the stand, if not longer. It was a roller coaster ride, back up the slate rock road to an almost vertical climb. Yes, I was back on the front of the quad, like Kyle white knuckling it. I felt like I had to seriously lean forward to avoid the whole quad from tipping backwards and crushing all its passengers.
We made it back safely and dad was in such a good mood. As we were ready to load up the quad, dad did something odd that made me and Kyle both stop and watch. He drove the quad back nearly a hundred yards to load it on the trailer. What does he need such a runway for? At that moment, dad revved the engine and gassed it toward the trailer. I turned to Kyle and said, “What is pappy planning on doing? Launching himself over the truck like Evel Knievel?” Kyle was howling! Just then dad put the breaks on right at the lip of the trailer and slowly drove it on. Pap thought he was pretty funny too, my guess is from the look on our faces he did psych us out.
Earlier we saw a turkey and along the way, a bunch of deer tracks. Dad couldn’t have been happier, spending time with us, especially Kyle and moving his tree stand to what he perceived as the perfect shooting spot.
The rest of the day was pretty uneventful, granted it was around five or six o’clock at this point and we were all beat. We found a nice little market to get sandwiches and other sustenance, got back to the motel, showered up, played a few card games with Kyle as well as chess on my iPad, and finished out the night watching back-to-back episodes of Too Cute!
The next morning, pappy slept in till around eight o’clock, which again is unheard of, but Kyle and I played more chess. On our way back, dad had to stop at his friend Lanny’s house to visit. Dad hunts on his property every year too. In fact, dad stays with the elderly gentleman, who is very cordial and hospitable. I must say, at this point I was getting irritated over dad’s new found relaxed behavior and I wanted to get on the road.
We did make it back about fifteen minutes before we had to get ready to go to late Sunday mass, so I was happy. Good end, to a surprisingly fun trip. A trip that I hope we never have to repeat.
Read the first part … What It Takes to Move a Tree Stand