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From posh to just unique, deer stands vary greatly

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DETROIT LAKES, Minn. - Minnesota is smack dab in the middle of the 2009 deer hunting season. For many hunters, that means perching precariously on a small, cold seat high in the trees waiting for a big buck to stroll by.

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But that won't be Dave Boman of Twin Valley this year: He will be deer hunting, but he won't be cold. More than likely, he'll sit on a couch or La-Z-Boy while drinking a cup of coffee on his deer stand.

Boman, a welder and farmer by trade, built the ultimate deer stand this summer near Flom, Minn. It can only be described as a small house for deer hunting.

Boman said he built the stand mostly for his uncles, Ray and Clarence Buschette of Detroit Lakes, who didn't want to hunt anymore.

"I figured if he had a nice place where he's comfortable and if he wants to take a nap he can; there's a bathroom; everything's here," he said. "This will be perfect for them."

The stand overlooks a large feed plot, where most of the trees were cleared this summer. The plot is planted with clover, turnips and soybeans. Boman even dug a watering hole in the middle of the field to attract the deer.

The 21-foot-by-15-foot stand, when finished, will feature a refrigerator, stove, microwave, coffee pot, floor heat, flush toilet, sleeping loft, mossy oak exterior metal siding and knotty pine interior siding.

Boman said he will probably still get out in the woods to hunt this year, but was thinking of his hunting future -- when he gets too old to walk or deal with the cold -- when building the stand.

"When I'm 70 or 80 years old, this is where I want to be," he said. "I'm too young to be sitting in here, yet."

But Boman is not alone when it comes to owning a unique deer stand. Going from the lap of luxury to a fertilizer tank, hunters will come up with just about anything to keep out the November cold when deer hunting.

Rick Swenson of Fergus Falls built his deer stand out of an old nitrogen fertilizer tank on his hunting grounds near the Canadian border.

Swenson, originally from Detroit Lakes, cut a door and several windows into the tank, put hinged Plexiglas over the window holes, and lifted it onto a platform. Inside, he is planning on putting carpet down and bringing up a pivoting recliner to sit in so he can listen to the Vikings game in warmth.

"If I could sleep in it, I would," he said.

Swenson said he doesn't handle the cold very well and, working with farmers, found the tank to be the perfect solution to his problem. He acquired two cracked tanks, which when new sell for about $2,000, from a potato farmer he worked with.

"It's free for a cracked one," he said.

The stand is about 8-and-a-half feet off the ground and is supported by old telephone poles. Swenson said he plans to side the bottom of the stand for a place to put his four-wheeler.

And then there's Travis Wilke's deer stand: The rural Detroit Lakes resident put a 1995 Dodge Caravan on a platform last fall to hunt deer from.

"I hate sitting out in the cold," he said.

Yes, hunting from a vehicle is still illegal in Minnesota, so luckily, Wilke's car stand isn't road worthy anymore.

Last fall he bought the van from a junkyard for $50, took the engine, transmission, axels -- just about everything that is heavy -- out of it, put it on the platform and promptly shot a 10-point buck from it.

When a battery is hooked up, the electronics -- heater, power windows, radio, windshield wipers -- all still work.

Elevating the car was a dicey matter. Wilke lifted the car up to the platform, about nine feet off the ground, with a Bobcat skid steer, which was a bit front-heavy on a windy day, he said. He was nervous the whole time until he got the vehicle bolted down.

Wilke has the intention of putting up another van, "or maybe a Bronco" for a hunting partner on another portion of his 127 acres.

His car stand affords Wilke the opportunity to bring his wife and son out with him while he hunts.

"We sit in there and talk, eat and listen to the game and whatever else and it doesn't even bother the deer," he said. "The hardest part is not falling asleep."

Brian Basham is a reporter for the Detroit Lakes (Minn.) Tribune, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.

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