Large whitetail deer

Deer season is finally upon us, and it seems like we’ll be blessed with an excellent opener.

The Weather Channel predicts a nice cold front rolling in Thursday, with a high of 64 degrees and a low of 49, and while temperatures are slated to climb a bit by the opener, bowhunters should still see some good movement Saturday morning. Plus, with partly cloudy and cloudy weather predicted for Saturday and Sunday, respectively, I imagine a couple of us Ritchie Countians will be sharing pictures of quality deer on our social media feeds to kick off the long season.

So as the excitement continues to well inside us, I wanted to touch on a couple of topics that we all know – and some may dread – before we climb up into our stands on Day 1.

First, it’s imperative we all wear our safety harnesses. I know too many young people who have had a brush with death or paralysis the last few years that I always make sure I have a proper-fitting harness and safety lines that are in good or excellent quality.

While there are plenty of quality harnesses on the market, you can’t go wrong with a Muddy Diamondback. It comes with almost everything you need to easily strap in and safely climb, and the only thing that’s missing is a safety line that only makes climbing easier. If you’re using a mobile hanging stand or saddle, make sure you have a lineman’s rope and two locking carabiners for your belt and fall system. And, if you can hang your stand and sticks before the season opener, having a safety rope with a self-tightening Prussic knot to get you up the tree without messing with a lineman’s rope only makes your life at 5 a.m. that much easier.

OK, safety is out of the way. But before we get to the final two things to remember, just one thing: in my ongoing promise of being transparent with my audience, I want to share a story with you all about what happened this past weekend when I hung my stand.

In my ongoing promise of being transparent with my audience, I want to share a funny story with you all about what happened this past weekend when I hung my stand.

In grand fashion, which certainly backs up my horrible habit of procrastinating, I decided that three weeks out from the opener I was going to completely change my hunt system. I was undecided between a hanging treestand or saddle system, and while both use climbing sticks, I ultimately chose the hanging stand for cost savings. It took about a week for the gear to come in – a Lone Wolf Alpha II hang-on stand and Hawk Helium sticks for my fellow gear heads – and I immediately tested it out on the tree in my front yard to make sure I knew how to attach them.

Following a quick test, I was satisfied I could wait two weeks before setting it on the private property I hunt in Pennsboro. Wrong.

If you see my brother in public, ask how big of a pain it was for me to figure this all out while 15-feet in the air. And tell him I said thanks for all the help and for not teasing me during it. Let’s not mention this was the day following West Virginia’s win over Virginia Tech. I’ll leave it at that.

I lost count after 20 minutes of messing with this setup, learning how much I hated the straps that came with the sticks and how not to set it up while climbing. Needless to say, I’m glad I got the issues out of the way before opening day.

Finally taking a break from the task after getting the stand in the tree, I took a moment to nurse my hangover, breathe and romanticize the moment one of the nice 8-points or 10-points stroll under my set up in a week.

Remember to stay safe this weekend and throughout the season. Wear your safety gear, have fun, and try to practice quality deer management while you’re at it!