The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Outdoors

November 2, 2013

Cross: A deer stand that is berry, berry good

Deer hunters for years have been constructing elevated deer stands — usually a few 2-by-4s, a few sheets of plywood strategically nailed to a tree — to give them an edge over wily whitetails.

Nowadays, some ambitious deer hunters construct their deer stands to include heat, carpet, cooking stoves, insulated windows — nearly all of the comforts of home — all to put venison in the freezer.

Elden Stanke has about a half-dozen elevated deer stands strategically placed in and around the deer habitat on his farm just northwest of Smith's Mill.

Far from luxurious, utilitarian would be a more apt description.

But one of them has origins that would have to qualify it as one of the more unusual deer stands to be found in Minnesota.

Standing about fifteen feet tall, a bright red, giant strawberry overlooks a slough, a field and a stand of woods.

Once upon a time, the fiberglass strawberry was a key component in a Tilt-A-Whirl-type amusement ride aptly named the “Berry-Go-Round.”

“My brother-in-law from Waterville got it from somewhere and thought it would make a good thing for the kids to play on,” he said.

However, city fathers and neighbors took a dim view of the scarlet orb parked prominently in his yard, so in the interest of neighborhood harmony, he decided to get rid of it.

“I said I would take it, figuring it would look good in the yard out here,” Stanke said.

“And I said, no, it wouldn't,” added his wife, Merry, who quickly shot down any notions about yard art.

After some consideration, he came up with the idea of utilizing it as yet one more deer stand for the cadre of relatives and friends come every November to hunt deer on the farm.

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