The last time I'd climbed in my stand, it was late November, unseasonably warm, and the leaves were still on the trees. How naked I now felt, 20 feet up, with nothing shielding me from acres of land. Granted, perception is an illusion here, because a man standing still in a tree is generally not going to be seen by anything or anybody, including deer.
I got in the tree a little late, about 2 hours before sunset, and I was hoping that the cool temperatures - predicted for the upper 30s but actually stalling out around 34, would prompt some deer movement. I was pretty disappointed. Of course, I made the cardinal sin of getting out my phone. When I looked up from texting my boss, there was a spindly 6-point buck on the next ridge, staring at me. Even if I was watching for him, I wouldn't have seen or heard him approach, and the 80 yard shot through the treetop branches would have been impossible. But as he stared at me, now frozen stiff and staring back, I knew I was busted. He flicked his tail and bounded off.
And that was it. Very few birds in the woods. Few squirrels. And no more deer.