Question for other hunters: am I alone in this?


cracked butt
February 13, 2005, 03:52 AM
Hunting has pretty much always been a man's world, so I've never been comfortable in broaching this question, but now that we have relative anonimity of the internet, I don't worry about sharing my thoughts quite as much.

Does anyone else have a fear of the dark, a fear of walking to or from their stand in the dark?

I started hunting at age 12 and was always afraid of walking alone in the dark to my stand. On the farm where I hunted, I sat at the far corner of the property, at least a 1/2 mile walk through marsh, pines, and oaks. For the most part, I never minded walking through trees, but always had a fear when walkin in the open or on a trail surrounded by trees, marsh, or cornfields. Don't know why, maybe because its really the only few moments where I'm alone during my life and he fact that reduced eyesight negates most of my advantages against threats real or imagined.

Carrying a rifle gives me a psychological boost, even though its unloaded and would take me time to load it. Carrying a compound bow, makes me feel very vulnerable as they are extremely slow to bring into use, while carrying a stickbow adds to my confidence a bit.

Are any other hunters in the same boat or am I just a sissy? :o

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February 13, 2005, 08:23 AM
No,and we're not alone in the woods,field or marsh. I've hunted since I was 12 also. We hunted on a farm we worked during summer in Pa. Knew it and everything on it by heart except at night. After I returned home from service old farmer said he lost a cow up in back pasture and would I go bring it back as it was snow and cold time around here. Took an old carcano rifle he had and went. Found the cow dead and the biggest wild cat feeding on it. Took the shot, cat screamed, gun jammed and I ran......Now I never go in the woods without a big bore double action revolver and have carried one for last 36 years. Rick

February 13, 2005, 08:56 AM
I don't hunt but I do a lot of camping by myself. Despite being quite well armed I still get a bit spooked from time to time out in the woods. And yeah, its worse in the clearings or near old railroad tracks. It's strange by the reason its scary for me is because you can see just far enough to get alot of shadows but not actually make out anything identifiable. At least in the trees you can make out a lot of the stuff around you.

That is of course if the night doest feature a new moon or overcast (REAL common condition around here). Then your just sol in general.

I think this is some sort of genetic memory to remind us that we are NOT nocturnal and shouldnt pretend to be. At night we are ill-suited to the wilderness and fall right off the top of the food chain.

February 13, 2005, 09:02 AM
Nope, your not alone.

I have hunted or been hunting all my life. I grew up in the woods and I still don't like to be alone in the dark. I have never encountered dangerous critters in the woods, but I came close a couple of times. Smelling a bear while walking down a trail in complete darkness will deffinatly peg your "O-crap-O-meter"

Charles S
February 13, 2005, 09:16 AM
I think it is normal to be anxious in an unknown environment. I know I was until I started going hunting at night all the time with my Uncle. My Uncle was a Raccoon hunter. Over time I have become quite comfortable in the woods at night.


February 13, 2005, 10:07 AM
As long as it doesn't keep you from hunting, you don't have a fear of the dark. You're just really really really really alert. :D

I think it's natural for most humans (unless you're a vampire or something).

February 13, 2005, 10:58 AM
The 2004 deer season was probably one of the most uneasy times for me as far as hunting/darkness. This was due to a number of cougar reports and sightings very close to where I hunt-within two miles as the crow flies. Images were also captured on game cameras, one of the cougar stalking a deer. A horse, other livestock and pets were also attacked or killed, allegedly by a cougar. I've been hunting since 11, and now hunt deer with bow, slug gun, and black powder. There was not one time I headed out for morning stand that thoughts of the big cats did not cross my mind! :uhoh:

February 13, 2005, 11:05 AM
Yup, yer a sissy. A girlie-man, panty wearing, spaghetti spined, limp wristed, pencil neck geek.

Afraid of the dark!?!?!? Ha!

I have never been afraid of the dark...

Except once, but I am still so spooked that I can't tell the story, and it was so humiliating because of what really happened, that I won't even admit to it...

February 13, 2005, 12:01 PM
Does anyone else have a fear of the dark, a fear of walking to or from their stand in the dark?


I know there's nothing likely to harm me in the forest where I hunt. It still doesn't keep me from having the "heebie jeebies" during that early morning trek to the stand. It was even worse when I sat in ground blinds. The dark was so close in and you were right on the ground with the critters...


February 13, 2005, 01:54 PM
Have been doing it for over 50 years and never gave it a thought.Now will try to put this discussion out of my mind.

February 13, 2005, 02:49 PM
It bothers me more to walk out at last light than walk in before first light. I'm not sure why that is. Maybe because I know in the AM light is coming shortly. You are definitly not alone.

February 13, 2005, 04:17 PM
I haven't done much hunting that required me to be out in the dark, but I know how you feel.
Around here, its because I KNOW what I might run into, and its not a wild animal. Working for a farm and going to a lot of different fields and properties, some pretty out of the way and deserted, I've found a lot of signs of other people being around where they shouldn't. And generally they've been doing something they shouldn't which shows how much regard they would have for me if I ran into them.
I've found everything from deer carcasses with antlers removed to extreme acts of vandalism (some really disturbing spray painting inside an old farmhouse for example). Haven't seen it personally, but its pretty common for drug dealers to plant marijuana in farmers fields around here, and they're none to friendly if they find you out there either.

Don't be paranoid, but be on gaurd. A little fear is a healthy thing.

February 13, 2005, 04:21 PM
Shame on y'all!

Did no one else notice that new friend Rick just made his first post? :D

Welcome to THR, Rick!

On topic: No, I don't have a problem with being alone in the forest after dark. There is an increased risk of getting lost (don't ask) and if the terrain is difficult there is a risk of getting hurt, but I don't think that's what you asked. Perhaps being a little more alert at times, but not enough to prevent me from very nearly bumbing into a moose one really dark night. :)

St. Gunner
February 13, 2005, 05:12 PM
It has never really bothered me, though I do get told I am scared of the dark because I refuse to hog hunt with dogs at night, so some buddies started the rumor I am scared of it.

Probably the most nervous I get at night is when I go out at night to call predators, we have alot of big cats here and I always wonder how many have come in real close when I was calling. Shoot even having a pack of coyotes can be exciting when they come rollinging into a 50yd wide clearing with you.

The worst spook was one night I was calling and the next thing I knew javalina where all around me, I happened to be against a tree and found it very nice to be up in it soon after they arrived. :)

I guess it is normal to be apprehensive at night, but I wouldn't say it is fear, because I keep doing it. Alot of it is the simple fact is man is poorly equipped to survive in a dark enviroment, our eyes are just not up to natures standards.

Last year I did walk up on about a dozen skunks, that sorta sucked, but I managed to escape getting sprayed.

We had a hunting accident this year where a kid was mistaked for a hog on an oat patch. So on my way out at last light(I bowhunt and quit before it is dark) I attach a LED flashlight to be belt that flashes. That is perhaps my biggest being shot on my way out by a neighbor. The light makes it a much kinder walk out of the woods...

February 13, 2005, 07:49 PM
Yep, it can be a little spooky out there sometimes, especially calling for coyotes. Ya never know when a cat of one flavor or another is gonna show up - or from where.

Additional comfort found here in extra flashlight batteries - and a Crimson Trace laser grip on .357.

February 13, 2005, 08:04 PM
I actually started going in the woods in darkness more as part of duck hunting. It's hard to be afraid when that 9 month old Lab is doing everything her power to tell you HURRY UP STUPID!!!

Ever since that Lab I've been in too much of a hurry to worry about boogers.

February 13, 2005, 10:31 PM
I've gotten the heebie jeebies walking out to a stand. No moon and I didn't have a flashlight on me. Seemed like my footsteps crunching on the trail were extremely loud. Since I couldnt see much, I was trying to use my hearing to make up for it, but I couldn't hear squat while I was walking.

It wasn't enough to keep me from doing it again, but it wasn't the most pleasant feeling.

February 14, 2005, 12:12 AM
I've slept out in the deepest Alaskan bush, naked (stop it, not that.. :evil: ) with a pork chop strapped to my head just daring a grizz to have a go..And never lost a second of sleep.. ;)

Hey man if you don't get the hebie jeebies from time to time while out in the dark you need to build some survival instinct.

But in all seriousness it's good to have a little fear. But a man has to know how to control and direct it to his advantage. I mean the worst thing that could happen to you is having a hind leg ripped smooth off and then be eaten alive. I can think of worse things. Like having to repeat 7th grade. :uhoh:

Use that nervous energy direct it focus it and don't let it control you. you control it.

I can think of a couple of nights out in the bush when I awoke with ice water in my viens and the hair on the back of my neck was standing up. I take that as clue and never just blow it off. We have ancient instinctual senses that we don't even know about but they are there for a reason. Don't ingnore them.

February 14, 2005, 12:26 AM
Never hunted with Q beams from the bed of a P/U truck have you?

What Darkness?

Oops...I read about that somewhere - honest. ;)


Normal for humans to get concerned about dark and / or strange surroundings.


February 14, 2005, 12:36 AM
Nothing there at night that isn't there during the day,and yes I do get jumpy in the dark.I once had a small pack of wolves follow me just off the trail after dark.They stayed just out of flashlight range and all I had was my old bolt action .410. The faster I walked the less I could hear,so I had to go a bit slower than I would have liked.Only lasted about 1/4 mile but will stick in my memorys forever.

February 14, 2005, 01:00 AM
i love being in the dark when i have a quiet cozy place to shut my eyes and just use nose & ears. but i dont like when i have to walk and i feel like im wearing a dinner bell :uhoh:

February 14, 2005, 11:10 AM
I wouldn't say I'm usually scared walking around my land at night but I will get a little bit scared if I hear or see something out of the ordinary. My biggest concern is people being on our land that shouldn't be there. My mom was out there for a week by herself not long ago and she could see someone driving around on our land obviously spotlighting. She was by herself and scared to death. Also, many years ago we found a rogue deerfeeder out there that wasn't ours. That was kinda strange. That's the kind of stuff that concerns me moreso than anything. Of course there are tons of coyotes out there too but I'm not really scared of 'em as they tend to avoid people. If my boxer is with me though I'm sometimes a little nervous for her especially since the coyotes seem to be hanging out closer to the house over the past 6 months or so. I really need to get out there and do some predator hunting...I might next month.

brad cook

February 14, 2005, 02:39 PM
It bothers me more to walk out at last light than walk in before first light. I'm not sure why that is. Maybe because I know in the AM light is coming shortly. You are definitly not alone.
Me too!

February 14, 2005, 03:37 PM
It is interesting that you specifically said:

walking to or from their stand in the dark

I find that I'm much more nervous when moving in the dark than I am when I'm in position. I think it has a lot to do with what others have said, in that if I'm moving in the dark I am a target. I'm noisy, can't use my hearing or smell very well, and can't see much unless I use a light source, which in turn destroys my already limited night vision and makes me visible to anything within half a mile or more.... :banghead:

However, if I'm in position, I can use all of my (albeit limited) senses to my advantage, and also have the advantage of concealment.

I guess I had never thought about it consciously at that level, but I'm generally not nervous if I am armed and reasonably well concealed, but am very nervous when moving. As others have said, must be those survival instincts kicking in! :)

February 14, 2005, 04:31 PM
I almost got lost going to my stand on opening day. Felt a little stupid...Mr. Surefire helped and I found my treestand. It is definitely disorienting wandering around the woods in the dark. I was not afraid of the dark...I stopped counted to 10 and then retraced my steps to the wrong fork I took and got to my stand.

On a side not it would have been better had I not found my stand because I didn't see anything there all day.

February 15, 2005, 10:43 AM
I almost got lost going to my stand on opening day.

There have been times where I was driving my 4-wheeler to my stand before dawn in a thick fog and just ended up in the right place without even realizing I'd taken all the right turns and whatnot. Maybe it's just subconcious since I've grown up roaming that land...on days like that if I was in an unfamiliar place I woulda been totally lost. However sometimes when I'm walking to the 4-wheeler to the stand in the dark I'll suddenly see a clearing or tree that I recognize as not being the right place at all and I'll think "how the heck did I get over here?"

brad cook

February 15, 2005, 12:26 PM
the only animal that ever gave me trouble while hunting was a rancher's big bull and that was broad day lite.
i have been out in the dark and had the hair on the back of my neck stand up though, that'll get your attention.
we have someone here who's sig line is i ain't afraid of the dark i am the boogieman! i like that.

February 15, 2005, 12:55 PM
I gotta confess. I never got spooked in the dark woods before I saw Blair Witch. Which, by the way, was a very stupid movie...and highly effective on those with small minds. :)

R.H. Lee
February 15, 2005, 12:56 PM
This is not a hunting story, but it's along the lines of being alone in the 'wilderness'. Years ago I was on a solo trip to New Mexico during the winter. Late one afternoon, I stopped at the site of some ancient cave dwellings and there was no one else around except an old indian near the closed tourist center. The path was less than a mile long, and passed under some overhanging rocks and boulders. On the way back, I heard a deep, low growl. It raised the hair on the back of my neck. I stopped, listened, looked around up and down and saw nothing. I began to walk again, a little faster, and heard it again-louder and closer. I turned around, walking backwards, looking up and down, still seeing nothing. Although I was armed with a Ruger Security Six, it scared the hell out of me. I talked to the old indian about it, he said it was a cougar. :eek:

February 15, 2005, 12:56 PM
I've felt that way before too. Mostly when I was younger, but even now, every once in a while I get spooked. Don't know what it is, I think it is biological, something bred into us over thousands of years of surviving as a species. Happens to me in the early a.m. going to the stand, never in the evening walking out.

I can't explain it, but a few times I had the hair on my neck stand up on end when i walked through a few areas. Who knows why?

February 15, 2005, 01:00 PM
Nah, you're in good company as the above posts show.

The longest hour I ever spent in the woods was when I was bear hunting in Northern Maine. I had to walk about a mile down a logging road to a pickup point. I hunted till dark, climbed down, made the walk to the junction of two logging roads where I was sposed to wait. Someone forgot to tell me that another hunter was hunting right near that junction. It's now pitch-black, I'm in bear infested woods and here comes "crunch, crunch, crunch". Only when the other hunter flicked his flashlight on did I realize I wasn't about to be eaten.

There are other stories, but that's embarassing enough for now. :D

February 15, 2005, 11:08 PM
I'm much more nervous when moving in the darkThat's exactly what I was trying to get across. The dark isn't bad. Moving around in the dark is bad because I'm blind from the dark and the noise of my movement makes me essentially deaf. Maybe if my sense of smell were better... ;)

Art Eatman
February 16, 2005, 08:57 AM
Color me weird, I guess. I've always loved ratting around at night. I found out that I see better at night than most folks, so I see them before they see me. And, after so many years of walking hunting, I don't make much noise.

I'm cautious about old Rattly Snake, of course, or copperheads in that sort of country. I don't like to sleep on the ground because of a bit of worry about uninvited bedside companions.

I don't remember when I first read of some military unit with the saying, "We own the night." My instant response was, "No, I'm just loaning it to you." :)

I'm not saying I've never stumbled, or gotten a trifle confused as to exactly where I was. Some moonlight is definitely a Good Thing. But overall I regard the night as a friend...


February 16, 2005, 09:46 AM
I've been there before but I can remember two times that really stick out in my mind. Once in Pa. I was sent out long before daylight cause my buddy already got his deer so he told me how to get to an old empty oil well shack.
It was mixed rain and snow so once I found the shack I had to crawl in under it for some shelter cause it was broken down. I sat in there for about two hours waiting for good shooting light and also for him to push any deer my way. I swear I was sharing that shelter with some kinda critter cause I could hear it moving around. Even with my 06 in hand I was a little rattled. Another time I was sent to a stand on top of a hill (1/2 mile UP the trail) found the stand and climbed in to wait for day light. Sun came up and I scoped the area and found what I thought was a huge rub on a large tree. Got down for lunch and got a closer look at the rub. It was about 4 feet up on the tree and turned out to be claw marks from a cat. Some freinds I got.........
Both times I was sent into a new area that I was totally unfamiliar with so that didn't help at all.

February 16, 2005, 06:22 PM
I have known a few really big fellers who weren't at all fond of the dark. Personally I kinda like it, I can't hear very well but I do see well and I rely on better than average night vision for what is going on around me.
Oh, I have also been (underground) in areas too dark to see. In those areas I had to feel my way through. That didn't bother me either.

February 16, 2005, 08:32 PM
I gotta tell ya, I'm probably the biggest CS (chicken :what: ) in the world when it comes to the dark. I've always been like that. Only time it doesn't bother me is when I'm hog hunting with my dogs at night. Maybe cause theres so much goin on. If I have time to think, then my extremely overactive imagination kicks in and Kattie-Bar-The-Door. My biggest fear is Werewolves :D See, I told you I had an overactive imagination. I'm proud to say that it has never kept me from doing anything I want to, just wish I had cat vision.

February 16, 2005, 09:43 PM
On my very first hunt I was freaked out when an owl flew by and landed in the tree above my head. It was a big bird and it freaked me out. The next night I was attacked (I say attacked, but really it just kept bugging me) by a weasel. I didn't know what it was at the time, but I looked it up when I got home. That little critter just kept sneaking around on the sticks and poking its little head out.

Since then I have always been on the look out for birds and little critters. Also I have always been afraid of the dark. I don't even like walking up the stairs from my basement. During bow season I always worry about something jumping out at me, but when gun season comes around I don't worry about anything.

cracked butt
February 17, 2005, 02:36 AM
I guess I'm far from the only one. :)

I have a story that happened to one of my friends a few years ago.

He went up to Canada on a guided Black bear hunt. He was bowhunting from a stand, despite the fact that his guide had warned him not to leave anything in his stand, for some reason he got lazy and left his quiver of arrows in the stand overnight. The next day he went out and found that a bear had climbed into the tree and got a hold of his arrows, breaking and bending most of them and trashing his quiver. He found one arrow that was still good that the bear must have dropped, so he sat in the stand the rest of the day. Right about dusk, a good sized bear came into range and he arrowed it- the arrow ended up clipping a lung and the bear ran off into the woods- in the direction of his camp which was 1/4+ mile away. So now he was unarmed with a wounded bear somewhere between his stand and his camp, he didn't have a radio or phone to call his guide, and the sun was setting. :banghead:

He made it out OK, but I don't envy the position he was in.

Joe Demko
February 17, 2005, 08:20 AM
No. When I am on my way out to my stand I am too busy concentrating on being quiet to be concerned about haints or dangerous aminals. Once I get there, I am focused on being alert for Brer Deer. It is a rare year I don't bag at least one and it is consistently right when it gets light enough to shoot.

February 17, 2005, 09:37 PM
I guess I'm kinda like Art when it comes to night vision. Mines pretty good. Got to playin paintball at night with some friends pretty regularly for awhile and it was amazing how much better I could see than them in the dark. I guess maybe thats why we don't play at night anymore :D
I'm still on edge though. Don't like when I'm busy doing something that gives away my position or lets someone/something get the drop on me. Maybe I'm just paranoid.

Kurt S.
February 18, 2005, 01:03 PM
Yes, I am a little spooked walking to my deer stand in the dark- piney woods of east Texas. It's only about 50 yards off a logging road, and there I am with a .45-70 Marlin or .25-06 Ruger, a big old skinning knife, and an EAA .45 Bounty Hunter or S&W model 29, you'd think I was going to take on a troop of zombies or something instead of 100 lb piglets and east Texas whitetail 8 pointers.

I noticed when I used to hunt the company ranch in Edwards county that I was always less spooky in the dark when the guides would place me in a tower stand vs. a ground stand. I think it was an evolutionary throwback thing.

February 18, 2005, 07:30 PM
Nope, I dont mind being in the woods at night at all.

February 19, 2005, 12:04 AM
What worries me about being in the woods before light is some over enthusiastic nimrod shooting at a sound....

When I was about sixteen, I was making my way to my deer stand on the first day of deer season. It was probably 15 or 20 minutes before sunrise and I was concentrating on not getting lost. I didn't notice that I had walked under a tree where a ruffed grouse was roosting. If you've never heard a bird take off directly overhead, especially when all is quiet, it's enough to make you crap your pants....

February 19, 2005, 12:17 AM
HOW morning this past deer season (still dark) I was about 1/2 way up the ladder, with no clue a turkey had roosted in the same tree my stand was in-and decided to make its move then. It made one big racket getting pants were ok, though ;)

Art Eatman
February 19, 2005, 11:54 AM
I guess some folks can be made to fear the dark, particularly if they're poaching. Well before daylight I was back in my woods on the way to a stand and heard a fence wire creak. I stopped and leaned back against a big oak tree.

A fella who'd gotten into the wrong place came along the woods road past me.

In a cheerful, happy manner, I said, "GOOD MORNING!"

Envision ultimate levitation...

:), Art

February 19, 2005, 02:46 PM
Here in Ohio, there isn't much in the woods bigger or scarier than me. If I ever feel a little freaked which isn't often, I tell myself that.

I usually go in and set up without a light. I have been startled a few times when I walk up on an animal, but really never have much issue.

I would not feel bad though, I have several friends who won't walk into the woods without their 5 D-cell mag light.

It usually looks like a grand opening spotlight at their stand. :rolleyes:

February 20, 2005, 08:42 AM
I'm pretty much the same as Art. I have above average nightvision and I'm probably a little over confident of my abilities. I've worked nights the majority of my adult life and I'm very comfortable in the dark. I try and become a part of it, if that makes sense.
The only apprehensions I've had in darkness is the possibility of stepping on Jake No-Shoulders in warmer climates, particularly around swamps, creeks, rivers and rocky areas. Not a problem here since it's too cold for Jake's liking.

February 20, 2005, 10:24 AM
When I was a young kid the noises in the woods in the dark spooked me. Then as a young man I was in the Army in Korea and sort of lost my fear of the dark. I am a retired game warden and spent lotsa time in the woods and marshes in the dark and rather enjoyed it. Now my wife keeps me in the dark most of the time. LOL

February 21, 2005, 09:29 AM
I'm not afraid of the dark, or being in the woods while it's dark, and never have been. I do fear, though (and always will), getting plugged by an overly excitable deer hunter who swore he saw a deer.

February 21, 2005, 09:51 AM
I think it is more of a vulnerability issue. We rely so much upon our eyesight that when it is pitch dark, we all feel somewhat helpless.

February 21, 2005, 01:23 PM
I think part of the satisfaction of hunting is being away from creature comforts and surmounting these types of fears. I've spent a lot of time off trail in wilderness, and it has gotten easier. There have been a few times where my mood could have been considered near panic when I got disoriented. I'm convinced that reigning in these emotions and sorting it out is satisfying and makes you stronger. The adrenaline can also come in handy at the time.
;) :)

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