Builders build. Which might be as good an explanation as any for the three-story Dream Deer Stand that Chuck Kannegaard and his dad, Dave, constructed recently on Chuck's property just north of the Twin Cities.
"My dad and I have been building deer stands all my life,'' Chuck said. "Over the years, we've built stands on property owned by friends who let us hunt their land. Then, eventually, the land was sold or handed down, and we had to find new places to hunt.
"Six months ago, I finally bought a place of my own, a home with 17 acres. So my dad and I thought we'd build another stand, and make this one nice.''
Chuck, 40, grew up in St. Paul and learned to hunt there.
"It was very strange,'' he said. "I learned by hunting squirrels in a neighborhood park. Squirrels and rabbits. It was illegal, I suppose. But I was a kid, and that's how it was.
"Now, anything I can hunt in Minnesota, I hunt.''
The owner of a roofing and construction business, Chuck often brings his dad along to jobs "to get him out of his apartment.''
But when the deer stand idea came along, Dave instead commuted to Chuck's exurban home and 17 acres to put in a day's hammer-swinging.
"I kind of made things up on this deer stand as I went along,'' Dave, 65, said the other day. "As you can see, I had to wrap the steps leading to the second story and the steps leading to the third story around a tree. We didn't want to cut the tree down.''
Name the deer-stand type, and Chuck and Dave have stood in it at one time or another.
Ladder stands? "Those, too.''
"Years ago, we used 4x4s sunk in the ground to hold up the first bigger, free-standing stands we built,'' Chuck said. "But over time, they'd tip over.
"Then we started to angle the 4x4s into the ground, and supporting them with wires. That worked pretty well.
"But this big one is anchored with 6x6s. We didn't have to angle them. There's no way it'll blow over.''
Sitting on cement blocks, the Kannegaards' Dream Stand rises 7 feet, then another 7 feet, with both levels enclosed. Its outside dimensions are 8x8 feet, and three windows adorn each floor, allowing the father-and-son duo to seal themselves off from the elements -- or not.
"The windows open easily for shooting,'' Chuck said.
Tongue-and-groove pine covers the stand's interior walls, and cushy office-style swivel chairs on each floor allow the hunters to see in nearly all directions.
Unlike the first two floors, the stand's top floor is open to the weather, with a railing high enough to prevent falls but low enough to allow an archer to draw back a bow.
"The top floor is for bow hunting,'' Dave said.
And, yes, the stand is wired.
How else to plug in electric heaters?
• • •
Being comfortable while hunting is a notion some who are attracted to the sport find uncomfortable.
As with great painters or other artists, suffering is often considered a prerequisite for success in the field. The late-season waterfowler who squints through driving snow, for instance, anticipating a fresh flight of November birds, relishes -- at least in retrospect -- the prospect of taking home a limit under such harsh conditions.
Similarly, the modern deer hunter who pursues his quarry with a musket in December in well-below-zero temperatures seems somehow more satisfied when success comes than does the hunter who by happenstance fells a trophy buck within the first few minutes of the season.
I found these comments online the other day:
I'm not sure, but it only seems fitting that there is some level of discomfort (wet socks, cold, rain, etc.) while hunting...pretty sure its good luck.
Good luck or just a reminder of why most people don't do it...either way, a little damp discomfort is a good sign that you're still breathing.
Fair enough ...
Except that few hunters as the years pass reject in favor of a tent the rejuvenating benefits of a warm shack in which to put up their feet at midday, or sleep at night
Fewer still refuse an offer during a frigid hunt of a hot meal, preferring instead a cold sandwich pulled from a snow-wet pack.
The driving force behind construction of the Kannegaards' Dream Stand wasn't comfort for comfort's sake.
Instead, it was Chuck's desire to continue hunting with his dad as long as possible.
"I suspect I'll hunt from this land the rest of my life,'' Chuck said. "Now, as my father gets older, he'll still be able to hunt with me. This will be a real comfortable place for him.
"As I said, Dad and I have been building deer stands a long time.
"Now, I finally have a place of my own where we could build something nice.''
Dennis Anderson firstname.lastname@example.org