By Kyle Nickel | PUBLISHED September 6th 2021
It started as a joke. The neighbor’s kids had outgrown their Little Tikes playhouse and it had become a wasp farm and another damn thing to mow around. She offered it to our little heathens, and without much thought to how ol’ dad might feel about having another damn thing to mow around, they gladly accepted. Maybe I was a little fussy from the bleach fumes, but while I was sitting inside it scrubbing mold from the little sink and scraping off mud dauber nests, I told them they were lucky I didn’t just haul it off to the woods and use it for a deer blind. It was an empty threat- at the time, I didn’t see much need for a blind.
The first year I hunted whitetail, I borrowed my father-in-law's climber. It’d been around since Reagan told Gorbachev to tear down that wall- and as such, was built from angle iron with welds as thick as my pinky just in case there were any shooter bucks left after the nuclear winter. The weight of the thing had me sweat through my Walmart camo before I even got half way to the woods. I ended up leaving it in the truck after a few days and sitting on the ground. And sure enough, I took my first deer.
The second year I bought the cheapest ladder stand Gander Mountain offered. At the time, I thought thermals were just a fancy name for long underwear, so I didn’t understand why I wasn’t seeing anything from my perfectly placed, albeit wobbly, stand. So once again I moved to the ground, and once again took a decent little buck.
It seemed to me there was a pattern there, so the third year I just said “Fuck it,” and sat right down in the dirt. For the last decade, while the real hunters debated the superiority of the .308 or 6.5 Creedmoor from the comfort of their insulated, soundproof blinds, I’ve spent every November under a sugar maple leaning against the high creek bank, the same old Remington 870 20 gauge across my lap. And (almost) every November, I fill my freezer.
But son of bitch, the last few years my hips and knees and back hurt after a few mornings of that. It probably has something to do with being forty-something and having never passed on a beer or a pile of wings, but last fall hunting started to feel like work. That was unacceptable. It was time for a blind- someplace I could sit properly and stretch unseen from time to time.
My heathens hadn’t played with the little house all summer, so a few weeks ago I backed my truck up to it with every intention of hauling it to the dump. I peeked inside to make sure I wasn’t going to be the morning social activity for 10,000 pissed off things with venomous stingers when I remembered my empty threat from a few years ago.
I grabbed an old skid and some plywood scraps from the barn and screwed the whole mess together. Had to go to town for beer anyway, so I stopped and picked up 27 dollars’ worth of spray paint. I think it turned out pretty decent. A real hunter probably wouldn’t go setting a new blind 6 weeks before the rut, but the temptation to put the hay forks on the tractor and haul it to the woods will probably get the best of me. And that will be okay.