I have never understood why so many deer hunters today are hooked on elevated tree stands. Many of the tree stands in use are extremely heavy and are complicated to the point that it is quite a chore to get them up in trees.

There is no denying either that these stands - that have to carried to suitable locations - require tree-climbing and considerable effort to get in places where hunters have clear views of as many shooting lanes as possible (deer are not known for approaching from just the right direction to make a killing shot possible).

I also dislike tree stands because I consider them dangerous. I've heard many stories of hunters falling out of them and being badly injured. Some years ago a hunting friend fell out of his stand and lost his life.

Even those problems can be handled if you want to use one, but a lifetime of deer hunting convinces me that a hunter is at a disadvantage up in a tree - maybe 20 feet off the ground. It seems to me that a hunter on a small portable stool against the butt of a large tree can detect movement around him much easier than a man 20 feet off the ground. Being up high takes you away from the best view. I am certain I can see the approach of a deer much easier if I am down on his level. Nevertheless, there is room for differing opinions. For those who like being up in the air, more power to you.

Another argument against the tree stand is that permanent tree stands and house stands reduce the options of hunters on foot to set up and use particular areas. I have quite often run into a house or tree stand while trying to decide just where to sit. Even though the owner might not be around, I hesitate to set up anywhere near the stand, even in areas where I have hunted for years.

The only exception I make with respect to these off-the-ground stands is the use of an elevated stand that occurs naturally in the woods. For many years I was privileged to hunt on the wonderful riverside club lands on Beulah Island. This area is on the Mississippi side of the Mississippi River, but legally belongs to Arkansas. Lake Beulah, which makes up a boundary of that fine club, is the dividing line between the two states.

From the extreme west end of the lake, a natural drain about 20 feet wide runs into the Mississippi River. It also borders the famous old Merigold Club in Mississippi.

Very early in my years of hunting this club, I found what seemed to be the perfect off-the-ground stand on the bank of the Arkansas side of this ditch. A huge lengthy willow tree had fallen and lodged about 10 feet off the ground between two other large willows. It was easy to walk up that tree and take my stand where the three trees came together. It was even possible to sit down and dangle my legs and take in a wide flat bottom that was deer heaven.

That was back when we were running hounds, and they commonly ran deer down through this flat and across the drain into Mississippi and the Merigold Club.

I quickly found out that as sundown approached, the deer would migrate back across the drain into the Beulah Club where they lived, making for the most remarkable deer hunting I ever had. Over the space of several years, I bagged seven nice bucks while standing or sitting in that stand.

Once I had quite a troublesome experience when I shot a fine buck just as he scrambled up the bank into Arkansas, where he was fair and legal game. The problem was that the buck fell back into the ditch and managed to drop dead on the Mississippi side. Believe me, I made the fastest retrieve of a lifetime by getting to the deer and moving him over into legal Arkansas!