So much for becoming one with nature… it seems a growing number of Minnesota hunters are trying to take their indoor conveniences with them into the woods and are going so far as to overtake public deer stands to make it happen. All throughout Minnesota’s public hunting grounds, basic deer stands are transforming into what some have described as “mansions” in trees, but are probably more akin to elaborate tree houses.
What’s the Problem?
Well, besides being distasteful and violating the hunters’ unspoken code of embracing the wild, the deer stands are public property. So, the unsuspecting hunter who approaches a deer stand, seeking only a place for a good vantage point (the purpose of a deer stand), may find, instead of a basic platform, a legitimate raised building (some as large as 18 feet wide and 20 feet long) — complete with a shingles, commercial windows, a generator, carpeting, furniture, and more.
Undoubtedly, this hunter will think he is trespassing and try to find another platform. The problem is it’s getting harder and harder to find a platform someone hasn’t “claimed,” which, of course, defeats the purpose of public property.
As St. Louis County Land Commissioner, Bob Krepps, explained, “What they are doing by building these palaces is claiming a piece of public land as their own. That’s not right. A lot of these cross the line of what’s appropriate. … If I’m out walking and come across one of these buildings on posts, am I going to feel welcome to hunt there? Probably not. And if I do (try to hunt there), there’s likely to be a fight. That shouldn’t happen on land that belongs to everyone.”
Making matters worse are the hunters who are treating the land as their own and taking it upon themselves to cut down trees for shooting lanes and for planting crops to attract deer. In one particular area, hunters cleared more than six acres of forest that one day could have been harvested by the county and the revenue used to serve the taxpayers.
What are They Going to do About it?
In response, many counties, national forests, and wildlife management agencies are banning permanent deer stands altogether. Unfortunately, St. Louis has done nothing to crack down on the disrespectful practice, which has residents urging leaders to take real action instead of just urging hunters to do the right thing.