Since when did deer hunting become synonymous with comfort? I had always felt deer hunting was another word for suffering.
When each November deer season rolls around, I become a tree dweller – living on portable stands and ladder stands from before dawn until after dusk. When I was a young, eager hunter, in my attempt to go undetected by the wary bucks that I was after I would wash my hunting clothes with a no fragrance detergent before dropping them into a large plastic garbage bag and then before sealing the bag I would add pine boughs and cotton balls drenched with doe-in-heat scent. I wouldn’t open it until I stepped out of my truck in the early pre-dawn hours of opening morning. At that time I would strip down, exchanging my temporary clothes for the smelly blaze orange outfit I would wear until success would be measured by the single shot from my deer rifle, ending my season for another year.
With venison in the freezer and my hunting clothes retired to the closet, the only things remaining of the deer hunt were the stories and the rancid doe-in-heat aroma that kept oozing from my pores for the next two weeks. That might explain why friends and family kept their distance.
Ole and Sven share their view of the world from atop their deer stand. “Say, Ole, buildin’ dis here big, fancy deer stand was a dandy idea. You was really tinkin’ when you put dat heater inside. My fanny’s as warm as a piece of lefse coming off da griddle.” Ole replied, “Oh Sven, I always told you I had your backside.”
Left to Right: Sven and Ole (Gregg and Steve) high atop a deer stand. Photo contributed by Steve Maanum
My hunting partner however, did not share this need to become “one with nature.” As a result, several years ago he purchased two enclosed deer stands. Each consisted of a roomy plywood box bolted to a tall four-legged steel frame. He wanted to stay warm and thought I should follow his example.
Two months before the deer opener, Gregg and I were discussing the idea of sitting in these comfortable box stands. I was still planning on camping out on my ladder stand and he reminded me tha
t I was a Norwegian (so was he) and that I was probably too stubborn to sit in comfort. That statement, more true than I should admit, made me think of a unique photo opportunity.
In the middle of October, we became Ole and Sven for a day as we drove to the woods. Both of us slipped into our orange hunting clothes, took our unloaded guns and a thermos of coffee (like good Norwegians), and then instead of sitting inside the comfortable box stand, we climbed on top of it so our wives could take our picture.
What I thought would be an easy and humorous adventure turned out to be humorous, but nowhere near my definition of ‘easy.’ Gregg and I brought an aluminum extension ladder, we extended it out to the 16 feet we needed, and then we climbed to the roof of the enclosed box stand. Our wives, who remained on the ground, mounted the camera on the tripod and prepared for the photo session. Because we didn’t want the ladder showing up in the photos, we asked them to take it down. They had no experience taking down a fully extended ladder and therefore, it went crashing to the ground.
The next 20 minutes were spent photographing us as we hammed it up for the camera. We all thought it was pretty entertaining, but the real entertainment hadn’t even begun. It was time for the girls to put the ladder back in place so Gregg and I could get down. There’s a trick to lifting a fully extended ladder so we coached them through the steps. First we told Deb to put a foot on the bottom rung to keep it from moving as Terese lifted it. Next we told Terese to walk away from Deb and pick the ladder up so she could get underneath it. Everything was going fine up to that point. For our final step, we instructed Terese to grip the sides of the ladder and walk toward Deb, repositioning her hands as the ladder moved toward its ultimate vertical position.
That’s when the problems began. Evidently our directions were not clear so instead of Deb just putting her foot on the bottom rung, she stood on it with all her weight. Terese began the lifting process, but once she got the ladder above her head, her arms gave out and the ladder dropped on her shoulders, placing her head between the rungs. They were laughing so hard, they both fell to the ground, along with the ladder. If Gregg and I could have filmed this comedy sketch, we could have entered it in America’s Funniest Home Videos.
Needless to say, we were still on the roof of the box stand and no ladder would be raised for our rescue. I felt like a mountain goat contortionist as I crawled over the edge of the roof and dangled from one arm while sliding a window open with my other arm. Believe me, it was a real “pane.” Well, actually it was a plexi-glass pane, but you get the idea. We climbed through the window, opened the door, and climbed down the steps like normal hunters would do. I guess the entire episode only goes to show that Norwegians always think outside the box, even when it comes to deer hunting.