A Hunter’s Tree Stand on the Highland Crossing Trail during a late April snowfall

by David Kramer

[originally published in the Talker of the Town, April 2021]

A hunter’s tree stand on the Highland Crossing Trail during a late April snowfall

[The hunter’s tree stand on the Highland Crossing Trail in Brighton, 4/21/21, 10:39am All photos by David Kramer except where indicated. See entire Highland Crossing Series at end]

The Highland Crossing Trail series begin with an early March snowfall in 2020, On the Highland Crossing Trail in Brighton after an early March snowfall. [ENTIRE SERIES AT END]

Today, the series continues with a late April wettish snowfall and two lonely hunter’s tree stands. While awaiting the storm, I took photos of the platforms I had noticed before, one looking like it could still support a hunter, the other aged and dilapidated. I also saw a family of deer: a buck, a doe and one fawn.

4/20/21 The hunter’s tree stand that appears to be usable and two adult deer near the stand [Photos: David Kramer, 2:02pm and 2:17pm] See Tracking the prints of a deer on the Highland Crossing in Brighton

Near the stand, the deer were rustling in the woods. As I moved to photograph, they quickly bounded from sight. Having never hunted, I was struck by how difficult it must be to track deer on foot, pushing back twigs to get a better view, my plodding feet slowed by mud.

I imagined a hunter in the stand, sitting motionless like a still zen master, waiting quietly, then waiting more. In our short attention span civilization, I doubt I have such patience.  I thought of past generations of deer who learned to avoid camouflaged lumpy figures high in the boughs of a tree.  No longer prey, for these deer today, the old stand — its black color blending with the dark brown of the tree trunk — may not even register in their animal consciousness.

4/20/21 David Kramer with long stick pointing to stand [Photo: Dean Tucker 2:05pm] and wood planks apparently part of an older stand [Photo: David 11:01am] See Before and after the (disappointing) Déluge at the Highland Crossing

At the stand, I marvelled at how far up the seat was placed: a king’s throne looking down on his subjects. Naively, I’d contemplated sitting in the perch, but immediately determined the climber’s skill involved was well beyond my ken. Nearby was a remnant of an older, rickety wood stand that looked as dangerous for a man as for his prey below.

Most likely, the hard plastic or aluminum platform has not been used in many years. In 1996, the Town of Brighton amended its code to bar crossbows and firearms in prohibited areas:§ 70-1Prohibited areas.

No person shall, except in justifiable self-defense and when reasonably necessary for the protection of life, fire or discharge any rifle, shotgun, air rifle, crossbow, air pistol, slingshot, firearm, as defined in § 265.00 of the Penal Law, or similar projectile device within the boundaries of the Town of Brighton. (Chapter 70 Firearms)

4/21/21 Elmwood Ave entrance to the Highland Crossing Trail No Hunting; the Elmwood Ave entrance to the Brickyard Trail lists similar prohibitions against firearms and other dangerous weapons or instruments

A sign at the entrance to the Trail clearly states, No Hunting 

Someday, the effects of snow and ice may finally topple the tree stand. Or, to be on the safe side, at some point the Town of Brighton might remove the relic, unnoticed by the deer and wild turkey.

This morning, I felt like the hunter I’ve never been, waking early, monitoring the weather forecast, anticipating that snow would make for easier to track animal footprints, and brewing a thermos of strong coffee.

The winter advisory more or less lived up to its hype, although the Channel 13 weatherman overreached when advising we lay down salt and put gas in our snowblowers. The snow was invigorating as a late April relative rarity.

Elmwood Ave entrance 10:16am See The first December snowfall at the Highland Crossing Trail in Brighton
First bridge and second bridges 10:23am See Before and after the (disappointing) Déluge at the Highland Crossing
Ducks 10:24am See Following a gaggle of wild turkeys on the Highland Crossing Trail in Brighton
Empire State College in background 10:33am See On the Highland Crossing Trail in Brighton after an early March snowfall
Entrance to the path leading to hunter’s tree stand and on the path 10:34am See Community in action, Part I: Sprucing up the Highland Crossing Trail
The stand 10:38am On 4/22, reader Ernest Tschanz who was the Senior Groundsworker and later the Grounds Department Supervisor, for Monroe Developmental Center of N.Y.S. in the early 1980’s offered his memory of the stand: “The wooden tree stand, to the best of my recollection was there at that time. I think if you tried to sit in it at this time your descent might be very sudden and rapid. I know of only one “Bow hunter” who tried to use the area and he was caught, charged and convicted of illegal hunting.”
Old fence near the path 10:36am See Exotic animals once lived next to the Highland Crossing Trail
Westfall Road entrance 10:48am See Illegal and unethical dumping next to abandoned farm at the Highland Crossing with Christine Platt

link to Talker of The Town’s Highland Crossing Series

David Kramer, PhD., is a published author, poet and journalist.  He is a professor of English at Keuka College and runs the online magazine, Talker of the Town