"That's it, that's the one."
Like Clark Griswold picking out the perfect Christmas tree, I had finally discovered the perfect tree for my new climbing deer stand, no small feat in the woodlots of the southern Great Plains where I traditionally hunt.
With trees often described as thorny and scrubby, finding one straight enough and tall enough to use a climber in is often a difficult chore at best.
But not on this day and not in this particular patch of Red River Valley woods, a spot where an area of dry ground and thick cover promised a backwoods hideaway.
The kind that a pre-rut October buck would grunt his way into, hoping to find a winsome doe to escort into the thick cover over the next few weeks as the rutting frenzy sought to propagate the species for another year.
In the blurt-it-out kind of moment that Clark's cousin Eddie is famously known for, I have to confess that I'm a bit of a rookie when it comes to putting up and using climbing stands.
Mind you, it isn't that I don't have experience using deer stands, having chased the antlered critters for the better part of 25 years now.
Tripod stands? Check; yours truly knows how to set them up and how to use them. Hang on stands? Check. Ground blinds? Check. Elevated box blinds? Double check.
In short, all of the above are regional staples for Texas and Oklahoma deer hunters spending the weeks of October, November, December and early January while guarding brushy draws, sitting over winding creek and river bottom drainages and carefully watching for whitetails making their way across acorn littered hillsides.
But climbing stands? Well now, that was a tactic best reserved for my hunting brethren back east.
You know, back east in the Pineywoods of East Texas and the mountainous terrain of eastern Oklahoma.
As last season moved towards the rutting frenzy, however, an opportunity arrived for me to finally give climbing stands a good try-out once and for all.
In reality, I was actually going to be able to give the genre's Cadillac model a try, the Summit Titan SD climber, one of the best climbers on the market according to the opinion of a good many hunters who have utilized the model.
After the UPS man dropped the climbing stand off on my front porch one afternoon, it didn't take a long look to figure out that the stand's name isn't merely a reach by the company's marketing department.
Built for hunters considerably larger than my 175-pound, 5-foot, 10-inch frame – Summit says that the stand has a weight limit of 350 pounds – the model is the biggest the company makes.
Weighing a mere 25 pounds, the stand is easy to carry through the woods to the perfect tree. And covered with Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity camouflage, the stand's roomy platform area measures 21 inches wide and nearly 31 inches long, giving the traveling hunter a comfortable perch once he or she arrives at said tree.
By the way, since the stand works on a variety of trees featuring diameters ranging from 8 to 20 inches, finding that so-called perfect tree isn't too difficult of a chore with the Titan SD.
Add in the coated steel climbing cables and Summit's Dead Metal Sound Deadening technology applied to the six-channel aluminum frame and the stand is quieter than one might expect.
Which is another plus for a hunter with a little Griswold in him, one that is unfamiliar with using such climbing stands.
Finally, combine all of the above with a foam seat and backrest; a four-point FAS (Fall Arrest System) safety system; RapidClimb stirrups; and sit-and-climb capabilities and the stand is rated a winner by a wide variety of hunters out there who hunt woods where such climbing stands are traditionally utilized.
What does this hunter in the Southern Great Plains think?
While I wish I could tell you that I used the stand to kill the biggest buck of my life this past season, a strange El Nino plagued year of stormy weather and copious rainfall kept success on our hunting property – now a swamp – to a minimum.
But with several good bucks making it through the warm and wet deer season where deer travel was scrambled and rutting activity most often took place in the dead of night, I'm already looking ahead to next fall's whitetail seasons.
And mentally marking a variety of trees on our hunting land, straight timber that will work just fine with the Cadillac of climbing stands, the Summit Titan SD.
In the meantime, there are plenty of gnarly wild pigs to chase in our neck of the woods during the offseason months during the remainder of this winter and on into the early spring.
With any luck, by the time next fall and its early-archery season rolls around, I'll be a seasoned pro, a Clark Griswold veteran at picking out the best tree to climb up into.
Minus the crazy squirrel running up and down that tree, that is.
All the while as I reach for the Summit of deer hunting – on our land, at least – in one of the most comfortable platforms being made today.
A deer stand that achieves the company's goal of helping hunters find high performance in high places.
Even in a place where tall and straight trees aren't that easy to come by.