Deer-hunting "mansions" on public land

How much comfort and ease does a hunter need? In St. Louis Country forest, shooters are not only building "deer stands" larger than some houses, but cutting down swathes of forest to make it easier to nail their targets. John Myers writes:

“We’re getting over-built. We’re seeing mansions out there — basically hunting shacks on stilts,” Bob Krepps, St. Louis County land commissioner, told the News Tribune.It’s not just a couple of boards slapped into a tree, but tree houses with stairways, decks, shingled roofs, commercial windows, insulation, propane heaters, carpeting, lounge chairs, tables and “even some with generators so they have electricity,” Krepps said.

St. Louis County foresters say deer stands, tree-cutting and food plots are getting out of hand on county land [Duluth News-Tribune]


    1. I’m often on the edge of my seat when people start justifying the culling of foxes/rabbits/deer etc. with claims of overpopulation; waiting with baited breath to leap into the conversation and assert we do exactly the same thing with people, who are VASTLY over populating the planet.

      It never goes down well, but it puts a smile on my face.

          1. As long as you add Yakety Sax, it doesn’t really matter which predators are chasing them.

    1. The generators are for MakerBots and to charge up the quadcopters toting weaponry. 3d printed Adruino controlled Wabbits and Deer. Hunters of the future these are, ramshackle shacks they are not. 

  1. Given that this is county-owned land, the stands should simply be pulled down and sold for salvage.  I didn’t see anything about that in the article.

    1. The county probably doesn’t have the resources to consider it, as it would likely take a crew of a few workers at least a few days to fully dismantle one of these, haul it away and clean up the site.  That could easily cost the county $10,000 in time and equipment for each one of these.   And the salvage probably isn’t worth much of anything.

      If I was in charge, I’d install high quality hidden surveillance cameras near the stands so that the authorities could catch their “owners” and force them to clean up both their own site and other abandoned sites as community service.

      1. that’s a pretty good idea.  game cameras are downright affordable and can provide high definition video and photos…and since they’re trying to catch hunters, it’s rather easy to “hide” them. hunters assume they’re just someone else’s game cam.

  2. I’m a hunter and I’m appalled at this behavior. I’ve had to report permanent tree stands on public lands here in Wisconsin but never to this degree (I think it’s looked down upon more heavily here). I like our wilderness to remain wild.

    And we can have this discussion without it being filled with vitriolic hyperbole about whether or not hunting is “just”.

    1. agreed.  i find this utterly ridiculous.  public land needs to be left alone.  want to build a mansion in the trees?  buy your own dang land to do it.

  3. On the plus side, with a luxurious tree fort, they may be too comfortable to look out the window to look for deer to blast.

  4. Lets be honest. To many folks in the midwest, or just about anywhere, hunting  is mainly an excuse to get out of the house and drink some beer, with the added benefit of shooting something.  Would you rather do that sitting on a couple of 2×4’s in the woods or a covered, heated and insulated “chalet” in da woods?

    With these being on county forest land, as noted before, they probably might not have the resources to pull these down, but it also seems that they may not the regulations needed to prohibit this to begin with.  Most places where I’ve hunted on public land, any “permanent” structure of any kind is prohibited.  If you put a treestand up, it needs to come down, but then if nobody finds it and reports it, you’re not going to face many consequences.  

    Structures like that, on public land, are absurd.

  5. If you have the resources to build this you certainly can’t claim to be hunting for economic reasons.  The obsession some have with trophies (“I can’t let my brother-in-law show me up!”) has gotten to the point where they might as well be target shooting.

    They need to monitor these things, catch the perps and make them pay to remove it then ban them from hunting for a few years.

  6. The vast regional differences in the United Stares are fascinating. If I went to a state park and was caught while cutting down a single tree I would be fined forthwith for destruction of state property, disturbing the peace, endangering the public and whatever else could possibly be applied and/or made up to punish me. Literally no one would think it was okay.

    The parks department would not need to go before any council and ask permission to enforce the law or solicit advice on what should be done. New rules would not have to be formulated.

    To me, this is less about the ethics of hunting or the specifics of deer stands, and more about fining squatters, vandals and litterbugs – and there have to be statutes on the record regarding those issues. But I’m guessing the land commissioner is deeply worried about the public backlash any enforcement would provoke and is thus trying to establish joint responsibility for any controversial action.

    1. In better times, you’d get fined for any number of less destructive activiites in Minnesota forests if caught by the DNR.  They simply don’t have the funding they once did for enforcement actions. 

  7.  As an avid Midwest hunter I think you are a stereotyping a bit. I never consume alcohol before handling firearms whether hunting, target practice or even cleaning them. I also don’t go hunting/shooting with people that “get out of the house and drink some beer, with the added benefit of shooting something.” Hell I stopped gong with certain individuals that even sober were dangerous with a weapon.

    We’re not all bumpkins thanks.

    I do agree though that these structures are ridiculous. I honestly don’t see the need for deer stands to begin with. I’ve never used one and rarely come home empty handed form a hunt. I’m loosing my private land that I usually get to use within the year and will probably have to move to public lands to hunt on. If I were to find buildings like this I’d be bitching to the Wildlife dept incessantly until they took it down.

  8. I’m guessing not much “hunting” is being coordinated in these structures. Just a wild guess. As the great Brion Gysin once said “man is a bad animal”.

    1. Oh, they’re hunting.  They’re hunting each other’s asses someplace where the wife won’t catch a whiff.

  9. Some of these are so elaborate, I have to wonder if it isn’t an attempt to claim land under squatters’ rights.

    Here in Texas, I believe you have to inhabit land for 10 years, make improvements — such as, oh, I don’t know… a house on stilts — and basically never be told to leave by the person who actually owns the land. You’re using it, he’s not, and he can’t be bothered to swing by once every decade, so it’s yours. I wonder what the limits are in other parts of the country.

    1.  “Adverse possession” is more difficult than that (I’m in Texas, too.) and cannot practically (or statutorily, I think) be accomplished on government-owned land.  Still, that’s a good thought.  I own a piece of land that I’ve paid taxes on but not visited in almost 20 years and google shows that a neighbor is slowly encroaching on it.  This is the sort of battle I’m going to have to fight pretty soon so I’ve been reading up on it.

  10. These stands are *nothing* compared to some of the stands found on private land.  There is one famous stand (you’d have to get some back issues of “Precision Shooting” to see it; it’s not on the ‘net) that sits atop a hill overlooking the owners entire farm.  With windows allowing a 360-degree view, a full kitchen, slab foundation, heating, a/c for summer use, and plans to put in a hot tub, etc., it also comes equipped with a multi-hundred pound mobile shooting bench that can be instantly moved to any window and locked down.  Add the gigantic .30-.378 rifle that sits atop it and it’s possible to make one-shot kills on deer so far away that you start an argument over who has to go out and retrieve the carcass.

  11. I don’t have a problem with these sort of things on private land. There are people who basically raise deer on their property like one would raise cattle. But  on public land you are altering the landscape too much building little forts in the woods – especially if you are clearing land away for shooting lanes.

  12. Hm… In CA I’m aware of cabins built all over public land which have been there for 100+ years.  Hunters and all manner of outdoors’-people use them.  Mind you, CA is mostly mountainous wildlands.  There is a sort of ethos here about it too, something like “take only what you need and leave what you don’t” type of thing.

    I love this about CA.  And from what I can tell, these hunting “mansions” in the article have nothing to do with this tradition whatsoever.

  13. Hunting I kind of get…shooting a deer from a stand with an assault rifle just perplexes me. The guys at work tell the story like they were in freak’n Nam or such. If you jump out of that stand with a knife in your mouth and go Chuck Norris on the deer…the I get the sport and I’ll give you props…I almost give my one buddy with a bow props, almost.

  14. When I reported the guy felling trees and dumping construction debris on a county-owned watershed near me, the case was referred to the state department of natural resources (who have uniformed officers enforcing anti-dumping laws).

    I discovered that while anti-dumping laws are quite stringently enforced against the poors and brown people, white police officers can apparently get a free pass from their brothers in uniform.

    These “mansions” may well be owned by similarly connected people.

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