by David Kramer
[originally published in the Talker of the Town, April 2021]
[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.
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.
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)
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.
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