There’s a price for comfort when it comes to deer stands. If you want something that won’t be miserable to sit in for several hours, it usually means added bulk. And, that translates to hard work carrying it into the woods.
That was the case yesterday, when my brother, Paul, and I lugged a heavy duty ladder stand several hundred yards to his favorite spot on a piece of private property near Red Wing. He has shot — or shot at — deer every year for the last seven years. In his first year there, 2003, he shot a beautiful 10-point buck just an hour after sitting down on a 5-gallon bucket.
Not surprisingly, he put up a stand in the same spot the following year. He started with a flimsy ladder stand that I gave him, which had proved too unsturdy for me. It worked fine for Paul, however, because he is much lighter than I am.
So it went until two years ago, when a severe storm pounded the area, destroying both the tree and the stand attached to it. He then started using an old ladder stand that belongs to my dad. I sat in it last year, a few days after the opener, but it was not comfortable at all. Yet, I tried hard to endure the discomfort because Paul had shot a nice buck on opening day, then saw two others within the next hour.
This year, Paul graciously offered me the chance to sit in his spot on opening day, which is Nov. 6. I graciously accepted. Last year, he offered the same opportunity to my brother, Joe, but he declined because he felt funny about taking away Paul’s spot.
Frankly, I do, too, but I know Paul well enough to realize that he has an extremely generous heart, and he experiences a lot of joy in sharing what he has with others. He has told me repeatedly that he wants me to shoot a deer from his spot, and that he doesn’t care if he gets one or not.
In my mind, Paul is the ultimate team player. Yesterday bore that out. He helped me carry the stand through some thick cover without complaining. Then, he patiently helped me set it up. I got very frustrated at one point because I couldn’t get the ratchet strap to work. That was an important part of the setup because the strap is used to secure the stand to the tree.
I tried and tried, but couldn’t do it. Paul couldn’t, either. I’ve always had trouble with those things. I told him I should take a class in how to use a ratchet strap.
So, there I was, thinking that I would have to make another trip down to put a strap around the tree. Then, I realized that two long sections of rope came with the stand. I decided to try using them to secure the stand to the tree. It worked.
We then went down the edge of the woods about 100 yards to where Paul had installed a portable stand. That’s where he would sit. He climbed up into it and checked it out. Then, it was back to the van in the waning moments of daylight.
We took a few test shots with his shotgun to make sure it was zeroed in, then left for home. I was very tired due to the amount of walking, but I was very glad to finish the job.
The next time I visit the stand, it will be in the blackness before the dawn on the opener. I greatly look forward to that day!