Scott Rall: It's time to start thinking about deer stands
SCOTT RALL The Globe outdoors columnist I was sitting on the deck at my wildlife property a few nights ago looking up at my deer stand half a mile away. We have a big deer shack on the property that many of my friends call a deer house. There are...
The Globe outdoors columnist
I was sitting on the deck at my wildlife property a few nights ago looking up at my deer stand half a mile away. We have a big deer shack on the property that many of my friends call a deer house.
There are really two trains of thought when it comes to deer stands. One is that the only stand that passes the muster of a die-hard deer hunter is one you have to be able to freeze in. They are usually metal framed and are either hung in a tree directly or attached to a ladder that then leans the entire apparatus against a tree. The latter you can just climb right into and the other requires a tree climb or the use of screw-in hooks that operate as steps.
The other train of thought is that comfort has a place in the deer woods or the Plains if you live in southwest Minnesota. The stand I put up can hold four people and has a heater and many other amenities. It includes a camp stove and double pane windows.
The stand has been in place for about 10 years. I have never harvested a deer from it.
On the other hand, there have been many kids, women of differing ages, and even some older guys that have all been successful from the same location. The hardest part about getting a kid involved in the outdoors is a place to go and a little success once in a while.
The stand is one-fourth of a mile from the road and many an adult has reported that the walk itself was pretty uncomfortable.
Kids need to be able to move about a little and remain warm or they will lose interest almost immediately. I have a saying: You hardly ever get a deer while watching TV.
Staying in the stand long enough is a key to success for many novice hunters. Being able to do just that is why I erected a deer house. If a young kid goes hunting with me, there is enough room to bring along mom, dad or both.
I am not saying that there are no smart deer in southwest Minnesota. What I will say is that most, about 80 percent of the bucks that get harvested in unit 237, (which is Nobles and Murray counties) are not more than 2 years old. Older, more mature bucks will not put up with many of the things a young hunter would do in an exposed stand.
That includes talking or whispering in an outside voice. Movement and sound along with a great ability to smell are a white tails’ greatest assets. A hunter in an enclosed stand can get away with just a little more of each of these deer hunting sins and still harvest a deer.
The other thing that happens in these bigger stands is allowing non-hunters who like watching wildlife to come along. I have seen watchers just start shaking when a deer walks up to the stand and browses on a tree 10 feet away.
Getting up close and personal to wildlife is all some outdoor folks want to do. No shooting is needed to have a good time.
This big enclosed stand has a sturdy ladder and some have regular steps to allow those who are less mobile to reach the goal. So a big deer house is not for everyone and that is OK. The only issue I have with these kinds of stands is the location where some folks erect them. Mine is on private property more than a half-mile from the nearest public lands.
I have seen some stands erected on private property four feet from the edge of a large parcel of public land, which does not keep people from hunting on the public land. The issue is that no ethical hunter would set up anywhere near the spot. It might be from the fear of getting shot or the desire not to cause a confrontation with the stand owner who would be looking right down on top of them, sitting 10 feet or 10 yards or even 50 yards away in the fence line.
Stand builders who do this are, for all practical purposes, staking an unmarked claim to the public property within gun range of that stand, and this action I have no time for. They cannot keep others from hunting under their stand but they know that almost nobody ever would. I called a guy on this issue one time and he responded that this was not a deer stand but a bird watching stand instead. I call bull on that one.
If you want to sit in the open and buy top quality clothing to stay warm, all the better. Some hunters are so challenged by the effort needed to get close to deer in the open, they think it is better than the hunt itself.
I am truly glad that there are many different kinds of outdoor folks. On opening day of the 2018 firearms deer season I will be sharing this comfortable stand with Amanda and Doug Tate. Each has a different experience level, but I am confident that one of them will have to field dress a deer by the weeks end.
Hope they watch a YouTube video. Each hunter is required to field dress their own deer.