The Free Press, Mankato, MN


November 2, 2013

Cross: A deer stand that is berry, berry good


“My nephews welded a stand for it,” he said. “And it used to turn, but they welded it so that now, it's stationary.”

In its original configuration, the strawberry had a hard bench seat running all the way around the inside for riders and something resembling a round table in the center.

In deference to functionality and comfort, the table was removed and replaced with a comfortable chair.

Windows were added to either side to enable a hunter to view areas to either side of the strawberry.

High above the vegetation, a hunter can be protected and cozy, yet have a commanding view of the countryside.

Situated where a farm field abuts a thick stand of cattail swamp and a hundred or so yards from a patch of woods, it is in a seemingly ideal location to ambush a whitetail.

But since Stanke put the stand at its present location two years ago — it's clearly visible from busy Highway 14 — no one has managed to draw blood while hunting there.

He admits that the reason may have to do with a whitetail's innate caution about new and peculiar things that suddenly appear in its neighborhood.

“The deer seem to stay up against the woods,” he said, speculating that it has taken some time for the keen-eyed animals to get accustomed to the unusual addition to the countryside.

This year, he is hopeful that it may all come together with the added attraction of deer's equivalent of a smorgasbord.

A nephew who now farms the property was unable to get a conventional crop in this spring due to the wet weather. When things finally dried out, he planted a cover crop of tillage radishes.

“The radishes were planted to protect the soil but I was told that deer really like to eat them, too,” he said of the vegetables resembling pale cucumbers that now cover the field by the thousands.

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