ROSEAU COUNTY, Minn. -- There's not much to do in a deer stand when the deer aren't moving, and there aren't any opportunities to fire a shot.
And so, you create your own amusements.
That was the situation my hunting partner and I faced Nov. 6 during the opening day of Minnesota's deer season.
We didn't have a deer come within half a mile of us.
It's a funny thing -- I can sit in a boat or ice fishing house for hours on end, even if the fish aren't biting, and not check the clock wondering when it's time to leave.
Put me in a deer stand or duck blind, though, and I'm good for maybe an hour before I start getting fidgety.
Expectations and excitement were high last opening day morning when my hunting partner and I took our seats in the enclosed stand. We soon had the propane heater fired up and were warm and comfortable as we settled in and waited for the sun to rise and something to happen.
The sun rose -- right on schedule -- but nothing else happened.
And so we waited.
It probably didn't help, I thought, that a hunter who leases property adjacent to ours had decided the minimum maintenance road between our two pieces of land would be a good place to park his pickup. I don't know the guy, but if we'd met that morning, I don't think our first encounter would have been a pleasant one.
Looking at the sun shine off his vehicle parked below my stand, I wondered how he would have reacted if someone had parked right next to his stand.
I can't say for sure, but I bet I can guess.
I bet I also know how a deer would react.
Still, I wasn't really in the mood for a confrontation so I trained my eyes on a horizon devoid of deer and tried to think happy thoughts as I resumed my wait for something to happen.
The experience reminded me of an old sketch by the British comedy troupe Monty Python's Flying Circus. I don't remember the context, but I remember these lines.
"A minute passed.
"Followed by ... a minute.
"And then ... another minute.
"And another minute after that."
The three deer that got up about half a mile away before melting into the trees far to our north weren't enough to rekindle our waning enthusiasm.
At least we had coffee. And some tasteless donuts covered with this weird chocolate frosting that seemed more like plastic than anything else. I resisted the temptation to put one of the donuts on the heater to see if the frosting would melt.
I'm pretty sure it wouldn't have.
My heart skipped a couple of beats at one point in the morning when a chickadee landed on the windowsill just inches from my face. We had a quick stare down before the bird flitted to the roof of the stand. Its tiny feet sounded as loud as hail as the bird hopped across the metal roof.
The encounter brought a smile to my face. Looking at my young hunting partner, I saw he had the same reaction.
The flies came back to life as the temperature rose inside the stand and that provided another diversion. We killed several of them over the next hour.
An occasional rifle shot echoed through the morning, but overall, the first few hours of deer season in this part of northern Minnesota were pretty quiet.
We pulled the plug shortly before 10 a.m. and headed back to camp, somewhat less enthused than we'd been before daylight just a few hours earlier.
There was always the afternoon, we thought, and if not then, tomorrow.
A minute passed. And then ... another minute.