Outdoors with Luke: If only an old tree could tell its story | Sports

The week after the flood in my neck of the woods was an interesting time for me.

I learned a few things that might help you in your outdoor adventures and I spent some time under an ancient oak tree that my friend and I discovered during a scouting trip on a forest track that he is in the process of purchasing.

The end of August has always been a time of preparation for me, a month in between. The warm weather drives many anglers away from the lakes, especially during the heat of the day. Hunting seasons start this week with the pigeon opener and in another month it will be time to get up on those bow posts in search of whitetail deer.

I spent some time earlier this week installing a new ladder near a corn feeder just a half mile from my house. I have hunted on the spot many times and have shot several wild pigs with my Rattler thermal sight on my little .223 bolt, but I also enjoy hunting with my compound bow. For this he needed a stand with some elevation within 25 yards of the feeder.

There are all kinds of tree stands on the market. Everything from climber mounts to saddle mounts where the hunter actually hangs off the side of the tree on a saddle, like a lineman on a power line crew. That’s not for me! I prefer a much more stable ladder bracket, but even those can be tricky and a bit dangerous to erect alone. Old style ladder brackets simply rest against a tree trunk and one climbs onto the seat and tightens a ratchet to secure the bracket to the tree.

With this old style, it is safe practice to have someone on the ground to stabilize the stand while another climbs up to secure it. Ladder Brackets now have ground-activated clamps or clamps that securely hold the seat of the bracket to the tree trunk as one climbs to secure it. I had absolutely no problem safely setting up this new climber mount alone. Setup is quick and easy. Lean the ladder bracket against the tree and use a ratchet to tighten the strap that is attached to a pair of hooks with grip clamps that lock the bracket in place.

It’s also a good time to think ahead about hunting boots. Over the years, I have worn many different types and styles of boots, from the tall boots that sell for around $80 in stores to boots designed for upland hunting in dry terrain. Many factors come into play when choosing a boot for hunting and I have come to the conclusion that no single style is perfectly suited to all conditions encountered in the field.

I’ve learned that quality boots that keep my feet warm and dry cost about twice what I paid for those store boots that looked great on store shelves but often leaked like a sieve the first time. I had to wade through water and much of my fall and winter hunting is done in wet conditions. I currently have two pairs of boots that are comfortable, dry, and fit for just about any condition you can find. They are both Irish setters from Red Wing Shoes. A pair of 8-inch waterproof hunting boots are great for hunting in areas without deep standing water and around camp.

The others called Mudtrecks are 17-inch rubber snake boots that have a comfortable insole that makes walking on uneven ground more comfortable. The side zipper is very practical to put on and take off the boots. Anyone who has worn tall boots knows how challenging this can be, especially with thick socks. Neither of these boots required a break-in period and was comfortable from the first hunt.

The ancient oak that I mentioned at the beginning deserves a little explanation. One of my best friends and frequent hunting partner owns a piece of land that is an outdoor paradise. It offers excellent creek fishing as well as good deer, hog, and squirrel hunting. He is in the process of purchasing an adjoining tract of forest and has invited me to explore the land with him and determine good hunting spots. We came across an old oak tree that seemed to be reaching the end of its long, long life. Some of the main branches had died and the old oak, although still alive, had the appearance of a tree that had been around for at least a couple of centuries and had seen many things.

My friend and I stopped under its giant branches and I mentioned that the old tree could easily have had squirrels running up its branches that were hunted by Civil War soldiers when they were kids! The children of another time who grew up in the old abandoned house on top of the hill probably had rope swings on its branches. If only this old tree could talk, I could spend hours listening to what it has to say.

A grove of smaller oaks grew around the old oak and they, now in their prime, were laden with acorns. This will be a great place to set up a deer stand. In a month or so, the acorns will cover the forest floor around the old oak tree and she and her offspring will once again provide food for the animals that inhabit her neck of the woods. Long live this great old tree, but I think not. Its hollow trunk will soon become a nesting site for critters and will remain a useful part of the forest until its bark and wood return to the ground to provide nutrients for another oak that will one day take its place.

Get in touch with outdoor writer Luke Clayton through his website www.catfishradio.org