Dan Svedarsky, who lives on the prairie in Polk County east of Crookston near Glacial Ridge National Wildlife Refuge, shared this tale of the “Stoney Suite,” a blind that was built for deer hunting and viewing sharptails, beavers and other critters.
“This is a little saga about intergenerational bonding and skill-building and nature appreciation,” Svedarsky writes. “To be continued.”
POLK COUNTY, Minn. – This story about a wildlife blind goes back to the beginning of the summer, when I volunteered to help with a friend’s dock repair at Union Lake near Erskine, Minn., where Mario and Jill Schisano and their son, Marco, and his family, have a cabin.
They wanted to replace the plywood deck. Now, being a guy who hates to throw things away, I wondered how we might use that treated piece of ¾-inch plywood that still was in “pretty good condition.”
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Over in the weeds and poison ivy near where we were working, I spotted the frame of something with a couple of pretty good tires on it. That turned out to be a boat trailer that “Grandpa Stoney” – Jill's dad, Franklin Janecky – used in 1988 to haul a boat from Arizona.
Marco has three boys – Jake, Luciano and Nico – and they all love the outdoors, including deer hunting and eating venison. Luc will participate in the youth hunt again this fall.
We chatted a bit and decided to build a wildlife blind. Luc had hunted from one of my blinds last fall and thought that was pretty cool.
So, the boys – Luc and Nico – and I dug out the old boat trailer, loaded up the old plywood, and I towed it to our prairie farm near Crookston. I only had one blowout on the way home, but that's where “pretty good” used tires come in handy.
I had a lot of “extra” stuff in my barn/shop at home, including a 4x8-foot insulated floor panel from a convenience store, an old door pulled from the county landfill years ago and a pile of old boards I got from a neighbor. I also had just enough old roofing metal scraps for the roof and a supply of old nails and hinges.
Marco and his boys had to go home to Cambridge, Minn., but my grandson, Ariston, came up from Waconia, Minn., for a couple of weeks, and he and I did the major assembly. (He had helped build the “Sharpie Shack” the previous year, a viewing blind sponsored by the Sharp-tailed Grouse Society.)
There are a lot of lessons to be learned when boys and girls build things with their parents and grandparents, including basic measurements, construction planning, safely using power tools and learning to drive nails in old boards.
Not to be minimized is the patience thing.
Come August, Marco and his boys were able to come back up and help apply the camo treatment. Granted, it looked somewhat like boxcar graffiti, but perhaps the wildlife won’t mind. They might even be interested in coming in for a closer look. I have plenty of extra brush around the property, and we decided to add some to the exterior.
We have a swampy area nearby with beavers and ducks so we moved the blind closer to that action until fall deer hunting. Come spring, the blind will be relocated to a prairie chicken or sharp-tailed grouse display ground so visitors can watch courtship displays.
Marco and his boys suggested initially that we call the blind the “Stoney Shack,” in honor of Great-Grandpa Stoney, an avid outdoorsman. But on further reflection, Marco remembered that Stoney always liked to stay at Embassy Suites because they have a good breakfast. So, the blind has been renamed “The Stoney Suite.”
So far, the Stoney Suite has proven its merit as a wildlife blind. It works well for watching beavers, and a gray wolf even wandered in to check out the surroundings on a recent Saturday morning.