The Deer Stand

Last night, I helped my best friend, Rick, put up his deer stand. Strangely enough, we had a lot of fun, randomly punctuated by moments of frustration and terror.

When I got there, he already had it mostly loaded; we finished strapping it down in the back of his Dad’s four-wheel-drive Ford F-150. The main part of the stand (the top) was up in the bed of the truck, and the four-legged substructure projected out the back of the truck, perhaps six feet. We loaded tools and so forth, and took off to the lease, which is probably about 45 minutes away.

We chatted on the way, about painting the stand to look like the Tardis, and about politics, and random things. When we got to the lease, I unlocked the gate, and we entered; I locked the gate behind us. We don’t much like having unauthorized people coming in behind us.

The trail down to the intended location of the stand was cut through the thick undergrowth and trees by something about six inches wider than the truck, but by folding in the mirrors and holding our breath a lot, we got down through there, into position to unload the stand. This involved one section of backing up across rough ground and zig-zagging between the trees and stumps, to get into position. Fortunately, we have between us a lot of experience doing this sort of thing; about 40 years ago, we worked together cutting pulpwood for summer money. You learn a lot about driving around in the woods doing that.

With the truck in position, we unstrapped the stand. The plan was to slide it out of the back of the truck until the legs touched the ground, then we would stand in the bed of the truck and push it up by hand. I’m guessing this structure weighs perhaps 300 pounds. In any case, that is exactly what we did. It went exactly according to plan, except for one thing; when we pushed it up, it dropped into place (vertical), but then it kept going right on over the other side. It was like one of those westerns where somebody mounts a horse, and slides off the other side; except this was a bit heavier. It landed on the side the door is on. Fortunately, the damage was minimal, since Rick had not yet installed the windows or roof.

By hand, we could not pick that thing up. It was just too heavy. This might be a good time to mention that we are both 56 years old. We tried using a Hi-Lift jack, which got it up about three feet, but even from that point we couldn’t move it. So Rick ran straps from the upper two legs (which were up in the air) to the hitch on the truck, and pulled with the truck. Since the other two legs were on the ground, this pulled the stand in the direction we wanted it to go, before the truck started spinning its tires. So Rick locked the brakes on the truck, and we looked at it. The stand was actually lifted perhaps four feet off the ground at the top, so we tried again to lift it by hand the rest of the way. This time, it turned out to be (barely) possible, and we walked it on up into position.

That was a relief, but we still had the windows and roof to install. By this time, we were losing the light. The roof is a metal frame with aluminum roofing screwed onto it. Rick backed the truck up so the tailgate was adjacent to the stand, put his ladder in the bed, and we manhandled the roof into the back of the truck, leaning on the ladder. We tied a strap to the leading edge of the roof frame, and I got inside the stand to pull on the rope, while Rick got behind and pushed. This actually went really well, and we had the roof in place in just a minute or so.

By now, we were working in total darkness, except for flashlights. After Rick aligned the roof properly, I bolted it in place while he started on the windows. Each window only took five minutes or so to place and secure with screws, since Rick had pre-fit them carefully.

After that, it was just a matter of putting the chair in the stand, closing it up, loading tools and debris, and heading home. And it did feel good to get home. A shower, two Aleve, and bed!


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