This fall marks 21 years since my first hunt at the “deer shack.” I had always dreamed of owning a hunting cabin. When I first moved to Ely I helped a friend build his hunting cabin. As we worked, I heard many stories of his adventures hunting and fishing there with his father. After that I always kept an eye out for my own piece of land.
Years later I found the spot: two partly completed cabins on 80 acres, only 25 miles from home. The owners were two brothers, each with his own 40 acres. They started building cabins next to each other’s. As it turned out, one brother wanted to sell, and the other didn’t — but the one who wanted to sell owned the lot where both the cabins sat. Their loss, my gain.
I spent the first year finishing one of the cabins and getting the lay of the land. I didn’t hunt deer for the first few years after the purchase. I had small kids at home and there were few deer around the area anyway. But as my kids got older we started spending more and more time out there. Each year got to be more and more special. We started keeping a journal of all that happened during the deer seasons. Now it’s a tradition to read and reread the journal every year, with many laughs and memories relived.
The most memorable year was 2007, when I arrived with my two younger sons and a new son-in-law. This would be my son-in-law’s first deer hunt and he raised a question the night before the opener: “What do you do after shooting a deer?” We discussed for many minutes the pros and cons of each situation and then one of my sons asked: “Well, what if the deer goes right down?” I told him if he was sure the deer was dead then he should immediately start whooping it up! Well, that got a laugh.
Little did I know this very scenario would happen the next day. The next morning I was enjoying some coffee in my stand after shooting a nice buck when another shot rang out. I knew it was my son because of all the whooping and hollering I heard a minute after the shot. I guess a little excitement for his first buck, a nice 9-pointer, was in order! To make the day even more memorable my son-in-law and other son both shot bucks the same morning. When we tried hanging those deer, each over 180 pounds, we broke the buck pole! Now, that is a day that will never happen again.
My hope is for my grandkids to enjoy the shack and God’s great outdoors as much as their parents and I have. A special place with special memories gets more important the older you get.
SEND US YOUR HUNTING SHACKS! Cabin Country is celebrating your beloved hunting shacks through the fall. Please send your photos and stories to firstname.lastname@example.org or submit online at www.startribune.com/hideouts. Come wintertime, we'll turn our attention to ice-fishing houses.