There are as many ways to hunt as there are hunters. If you hunt I’m sure you’ll agree. If you don’t hunt, this post is not for you. Hippie!
Usually I “still hunt”. Still hunting (for those who don’t know) is when you don’t stay still. You creep through the forest hoping to sneak up on an animal. Animals, because they aren’t stupid, are usually well ahead of you in this game. Especially if you’re stalking at the scale of the animal. Scale is important, if you spy game with a spotting scope at two miles… you’re not sneaking up on it. (You might, for example, be sitting in the cab of an idling F-150.) Mind you, it’s a totally legitimate hunting gambit. But the end game is where the animal has its best advantage.
Done well, still hunting makes you feel like a “skilled and steely eyed predator”. More often you’re Elmer Fudd stomping after “wabbit tracks” and spooking everything in the county. Still hunting is, in my opinion, particularly hard. It’s hard to move silently. It’s hard to see your prey before it sees you. The breeze will give you away, squirrels will chirp at you, bugs will crawl on your nose while you’re trying to be still, etc…
I do it because I wish to. I recognize it’s a low percentage proposition, particularly for
white tailed deer.
An alternative is stand hunting. Stand hunting is when you sit. (Don’t you love these
definitions?) It’s probably the most common deer (not elk) tactic. You find a likely spot, park your ass where you hope you won’t be seen, and wait. Think, “ambush”. Stand hunting is, in my limited experience, the best way to fill the freezer. It’s also a lot less strenuous. It has the advantage that you can watch the chickadees and take a nap. One drawback is that the nap will invariably give you a crook in your neck and, since you’re not moving, you’ll turn into a popsickle.
Many of my neighbors build elaborate “blinds” with heaters and comfy seats and sound deadening carpeting and for all I know wet bars and hot tubs. I’ve resisted because I’m a procrastinating cheapskate. I’ve insisted on sitting like a Curmudgeon on an old bar stool, perched on a scrapwood platform, under a “roof” of plywood and tattered burlap. It’s tippy, cold, ugly, has nails everywhere that like to draw blood, and did I mention the seat was like a rock? On the other hand, it works. I’ve felled many deer from that ungainly perch.
I also used a portable tent like creation. It sounds good on paper and is super elaborate but it mostly just serves to block my view and lock me in a tent with frozen zippers.
This year I decided I would “give myself a treat”. I built, from scratch, a roughly 4′ square plywood box blind. I built it simple but I put in the effort to be sure it would last a long time. I even put in shooting windows. (My original plan was just plywood openings but I decided I was worth the extra $15 in plexiglass.)
Surprisingly, I had an enormous amount of fun building it. What a revelation! Imagine the projects you’d do to fix up your house. Now consider the generic horseshit that dissuades you from those projects. A deer stand, intended for only me and meant to be installed in the forest, was a chance to do crude carpentry without horseshit. Such a weight off my shoulders! For a deer stand, nobody is going to complain that the trim is uneven, the light switch off center, or the paint’s a shade off. Men like projects. Men really like projects that can be completed without a board of inquiry! I was a happy camper as I fussed over trim (to block the wind), caulked the corners (better than my house’s siding), painted it (not camoflage… just flat green), etc… Working on a crappy old farmhouse will crush your ego, building a deer stand is salve. Lesson learned.
I was a bit late in the construction. Given time, deer will get used to any structure out there. I could go out to the woods and install a flaming pink 30′ tall fiberglass phallus and they’d hardly notice after six months. But a week before opening day? That’s pushing it. Luckily I’d built the platform many years ago. Would a week be enough for deer to acclimate to the strange monotlithic elevated paint smelling phone booth of humanity on the platform?
I spent about $350 and a couple day’s worth of man hours in construction. For what? For a friggin’ box? Would it be worth it?