Few activities are as satisfying to me, a deer hunter, as to have driven the last nail and sawed the last plank on a deer stand I built myself. I honestly think I get as much satisfaction and enjoyment out of practicing my crude brand of carpentry on a deer stand I built myself as the hunting experience itself.
Over the years, I have come up with some doozies. The first box stand I ever constructed by myself had to have help to keep from toppling over. I nailed a two-by-four from one shaky leg of the stand to a nearby sturdy tree to give support. It lasted a couple of years before giving up the ghost.
My favorite homemade stand was built on the ground. Perhaps the elevated stand that toppled over taught me a lesson. Using a post hole digger, I placed four corner posts in the ground and built the stand from plywood around it, complete with floor and roof. If this stand were to fall over, I wouldn’t be hurt because I’d only have about six inches to fall.
One of the things that I dread is heading out to my deer stands during the off season to prepare them for fall and winter hunting. One thing I have learned is that during the off season, my stands enter the time-share program as other creatures take over in my absence.
On one occasion, I cautiously eased up to peer into my stand and found a hawk nest. Another time, I climbed into the stand and was preparing to take a seat on the cushion I’d left there at the end of last season. As I adjusted the cushion before sitting down, something moved inside the cushion. Puzzled, I poked a stick in a small hole in the material and jumped back astonished as eight flying squirrels vacated the warm and cozy cushion that had been their home for months.
On another occasion, I checked my stand to find that a family of buzzards had taken the window I’d left open as an invitation to come on in and make themselves at home. Have you ever had to clean up behind a family of buzzards? Believe me, it’s not for the person with a weak stomach. I debated about possibly dowsing on some gasoline, lighting a match and burning the stinking stand to the ground. Starting over may have been a better option.
A friend of mine made a pre-season check of his box stand to find that bats had worked their way beneath the camouflage material covering his stand, causing him to swat at fleeing bats for a few moments.
I eventually got to the point of making my stands critter-proof to keep flying squirrels, bats and buzzards away.
However, there is one pest I can count on, in fact almost guarantee that will be there once I make my first inspection of my stand before hunting season kicks off.
Wasps. No matter how tightly you think you have your stand closed, they’ll find a way to get in and frankly, wasps do not take kindly to being disturbed. Thus, before climbing the first rung of the ladder to my stand, I’ll have one hand on the rung and the other wrapped around a can of wasp spray.
There is a measure of satisfaction in sitting back with an air of smugness in admiring the deer stand that you have constructed by your own hands. However, time-share critters like flying squirrels, bats, buzzards and wasps apparently pay little attention to the contract that says they have to share.
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