A Deer Stand You Don’t Have To Hunt!

Daryl Gay's Back Page, November 2005

Daryl Gay | November 1, 2005

So, you deer hunters all cozy these days up in your highfalutin’ stands? Well, good. You got it made: ease into the woods, take a couple minutes to climb a ways, snuggle in, make yourself good and comfortable, load the cannon, a 32-pointer walks by…

No sweat.

But let’s go back a couple of months. Remember what it was like getting that stand in place? Say along about the first week of September: Dust-Bowl dry, hotter than the Sahara, mosquitoes, ticks and red bugs feasting on you like rednecks at a barbecue buffet.

And while we’re reminiscing, I just gotta tell you about this particular stand. For what it’s worth, just in case you’re a location buff, the stand is down in Johnson County. Covers MOST of Johnson County, in fact. I believe if a man was brave enough to crawl out on top of it he could see the gold shining on the Capitol dome in one direction and gators sunning in the Okefenokee t’other!

High, you say? Yeah, you guessed right.

My boys’ grandpa picked this thing out. Those who know him up close and personal say he may not care all that much for deer hunting, but they espouse just the opposite about spending time with his grandchillen. There are four of them; and this stand is just large enough for him to get them inside with him.

And conduct rugby practice if he’d care to!

You think I’m kidding. Well, it took two trips just to get the thing home! Even pulling a trailer behind his pickup, all he could manage to haul on the first trek was the box portion of the monstrosity. The ladder and cross-member section required a return engagement with a longer trailer.

Transporting the stand was followed by the really good part: putting all this conglomeration together and standing it upright over patches of oats, rye and soybeans!

Can’t say I wasn’t warned. After all, his quote was: “Two men are not going to stand this thing up in the woods. In fact, three men aren’t going to. It’s heavy.”

Which in essence is pushing just the right buttons. To a man my size, that’s a direct challenge: you can’t lift this! Well, we would see!

As I rounded the corner of the field road en route to where the thing had been left lying on its side, it suddenly struck me that someone had begun building a house smack dab in the middle of the soybean field! Then I spotted the ladder and four supports the house was on…

Pa-in-law was standing beside it all. Grinning. Ma-in-law was with him, just watching with a look of pity mixed with unbelief that I was actually dumb enough to tackle this task. In her hand was a cell phone, the better to dial 911 with, my dear.

There were no words to say; the challenge lay before me. Twenty feet wide and 30 feet long before me. So, squatting low enough to get my bulk centered under the stand’s bulk, I grabbed a piece of metal and embarked upon the journey to uprightness.

Though, in truth, I may never stand upright again.

Oh, I picked it up, all right. As a matter of fact, that metal encased in a death grip turned out to be a rather thin support and bent like a pretzel!

So here I am standing with a shooting house — which is large enough for a family of nine — held very, very tightly at belt level. I say belt level because my arms are bent 90 degrees at the elbow now that the stand has been hoisted half way. The way I got it figured, both arms will likely be in that same position 30 years from now, never to be straightened again.

OK. I got it up this far; now what do I do with it?

“I believe if you’d grab that other side of the rail we could walk this thing on up,” I utter. Or mutter or groan or moan, take your choice.

Pa-in-law was obviously pretty surprised that I got the thing off the ground at all, and he shows no inclination to have his back make the same cracking and popping noises mine was making during the upheaval process.

“You think we can do it, eh?”

“Well, either that or have Ma-in-law call to make sure my life insurance policy is paid up, because this thing is killing me.”

He hopped into action, and although you’d never have thunk it, that stand sailed right up! You’ve heard of folks performing superhuman feats under extreme duress or periods of terror? This filled both bills.

Had that stand come down, we’d be rather sweaty fertilizer spots in the field, and we knew it.

That big camo-sided box with the shooting slits on the sides and out front was one beautiful sight as it stood towering upright at last. Only problem was, it was standing in the edge of the field, and it needed to be inside the tree line.

You know all about the best-laid plans of mice and men, right? Well I don’t know what the mice had been thinking, but we had the idea that the stand would be rather easy to move into place once we had trimmed away some tree limbs and otherwise carved out a little area bordering the field.


Now the supports are stuck firmly into the ground because of all the weight on them. To even “walk” the stand requires picking up two sides and dangerously tilting the whole thing. One thing I know: we do NOT want this thing back on its side!

So getting back to the present, what I’m saying is that while you’re all comfy and cozy in your stand, I still have a little problem with mine. It’s still out in the edge of the field where it originally settled after being stood up. Believe it or not, the deer HAVE noticed it and refuse to come into range.

Howitzer range.

All in all, I reckon what I’m asking is if a few of you good ol’ boys with strong, healthy backs would mind giving a man a hand for just a few minutes in the wilds of Johnson County. We just need to turn my new deer stand around and move it back about 20 feet, under the canopy of a large sweetgum where I can actually use the thing. Shouldn’t take over a couple dozen of us. You’ll be in and out of the place in mere minutes.

And, hopefully, with only a little rehab involved…


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