We all seem to have our own ways of passing the time in a deer stand and with today’s ever quickening society, incredible technology, and increase in responsibilities as we get older and have kids, often times it’s spent doing things other than just looking for deer (at least I can speak for some of us). Especially on a slow day. . . .
Aside from the usual of reading books, texting or otherwise messing around on your phone, and hopefully actually using your senses to pay attention to what’s happening around you, there’s another idea I might suggest—birding. I know, I know—birding is for those enviro-hippie yuppy city folks, right? Well, regardless of your thoughts on it I suggest giving it a try. Hunters are some of the world’s keenest on learning about and striving to understand the natural world for a purpose—to harvest game of course. Why not use some of those keen senses to help pass the time, learn a new hobby, and help out the birding community to further document some of nature’s struggling species?
Duck hunters have been doing this for years actually. We identify our quarry not only on the water but on the wing so that we stay legal and learn. I remember the first waterfowl id book my dad gave me when I was young and I also remember the LeMaster Method (using bill colors and sizes) book that a Conservation Officer used to identify two juvenile wood ducks that we had illegally harvested during our first teal season as young men. That was certainly a lesson I’ll never forget!
Our phones have made this significantly easier. As a Biologist, I spent many years learning about and identifying birds by way of bird song cd’s, numerous field guides, and time spent glassing for birds in the field. Nowadays, the apps available on our phones cut the traditional learning curve down a ton. With these apps, you can now identify birds by way of habitat, colors, and other easy to note characteristics in a hurry and not only that but you can also document their presence for others to learn from.
My favorite is the Audobon Birds Pro version (for Android). There are many others so I would suggest trying several but I like Audobon because I can id, post for others to reference, and keep my own list all in one.
You really need a good set of binoculars but nowadays I see many deer hunters using them. Give it a try—I’ll bet the number of species you observe will surprise you on a good long day in the stand!