Mark Luce climbs up into one of the treestands at the Hindsite Red Deer Hunting Preserve in 2004. Credit: Gabor Degre

There are, apparently, still plenty of classic outdoorsmen who track huge bucks for miles before catching up with them, shooting them and then dragging them back to the truck.

Today’s query is not for those hardy hunters, who surely have very little spare time on their hands when they head out into the woods for a day of hunting.

Instead, today’s question is aimed at a more stationary (or, if you prefer, “sedentary”) kind of hunter. The kind who likes to climb up into a well-placed tree stand and sit for hours in hopes of seeing a deer. Or the kind who’d rather hunker down in a spacious ground blind, in a well-padded camp chair, in order to fill their deer tag. Or heck, the kind who might just amble up to a comfy-looking stump and take a load off for a bit.

For the record, I am one of those hunters who prefer to spend a lot of time sitting, rather than walking. And today, I’ve got a question for the rest of you stump-sitters, tree-stand-perchers and ground-blind-lurkers: What do you do to pass the time during those boring times, when not even a red squirrel is willing to stop by and make vaguely deer-like sounds?

For years, I was a purist, partially because I thought I ought to be paying very close attention to what was going on in the woods, and partially because I thought if I let my concentration lapse, I might just fall out of my tree. Therefore, when I went into the woods, I hunted. Period. I’d occasionally check my phone to see what time it was, or ask my GPS if today was a good day for hunting (yes, that information is available). But other than that, I was staring off into the (increasingly boring) woods, and keeping my (increasingly cold) ears open.

Then I learned that not everybody is so focused. Nor spartan. Nor stubborn. Some hunters, I learned, let their kids play video games in the ground blind. Others take along a sandwich and a coffee. Still others take a paperback (I’d suggest my first book, “Evergreens,” to those who might want to give that method of time-killing a try).

And eventually, I began tucking my Kindle e-reader into my pack when I’d be heading out to spend several hours in the woods. Just in case.

Pro tip: I’ve learned not to read horror novels in the woods, because it’s pretty hard to keep your wits when dusk is falling, you’re reading about assorted monsters or spooky critters, and a pack of coyotes start howling nearby.

So tell me, BDN readers: What do you do to kill a little bit of time when you’re in the woods on a hunt that the deer aren’t participating in? Don’t be shy. Some of the best hunters I know admit to spending at least a portion of their time focusing on something other than the woods around them.

Leave your responses in the comments section below. I look forward to sharing some of your best ideas with our fellow hunters in a future story or column.

John Holyoke can be reached at

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John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. He spent 28 years working for the BDN, including 19 years as the paper's outdoors columnist or outdoors editor. While...