Dave's Place: Cheap Seats, Part 1

When it comes to your tree stand, why stop at a cushion?

Field & Stream Online Editors

If you're going to sit in a tree stand all day, you might as well be comfortable. And although today's manufacturers offer a variety of stands with all sorts of cushy extras, the most comfortable of these are often the most expensive. That said, I'm happy to report that there are alternatives. In fact, it seems that with some planning and ingenuity, and with little or no cash, you can sit in your tree stand just as comfortably as you would in your living room, vehicle, or ice shanty.

The first and coziest option I discovered last year while still-hunting a neighbor's farm, where I couldn't help but notice an enormous tree stand built into the crook of a giant maple tree. In fact, it was more of a tree house, complete with plank floor and shingled roof, and probably large enough to fit a small family, or at least make do as a young couple's starter home.

In any case, right in the middle of the floor was a La-Z-Boy recliner. Of course, you don't have to spend the hundreds of dollars this guy put into materials, but you can easily get an old recliner cheaply. A few years ago, for example, my wife and I bought a secondhand couch for $25. (If I had only realized how handy old furniture might be for hunting, I would have pushed for a Barcalounger or at least a loveseat. As it is, I don't have a stand large enough to accommodate the couch.) Or you can simply wait until you or a friend needs new furniture and nab the old stuff. (None of my friends has a recliner up for grabs, but my brother has a nice cozy chair with an ottoman that I've got my eye on.)

Once you've got the chair, all you need is a moderate-size scrap-lumber platform and a crane, winch, or half a dozen eager friends willing to help you get it into your tree stand. Then you can hunt in the lap of luxury, adding small accoutrements over time, such as a cup holder, an afghan, a minifridge, and a portable television.

Now, the one potential downside is the soporific effect: Many of us automatically fall asleep within five minutes of sitting in a recliner. If this worries you at all, there is another excellent alternative.

I noticed this one while hunting just a couple weeks ago. Situated overlooking a cut cornfield, this one featured an old car seat. Old car seats are a dime a dozen. You can get one cheaply at any salvage yard. Or if, like me, you happen to have an old vehicle resting on cinder blocks in the backyard, you only need a few specialized tools and a couple days of hard work to remove it. (Unfortunately, mine is a bench seat, and I haven't got a stand big enough for this either.)

Much like the recliner, once you get the car seat in your stand you can add little extras over time, such as a rearview mirror to watch for deer coming in from behind you. Naturally, you'll want to dangle a pine-scented air freshener from the mirror for use as a cover scent. Or, if you prefer, a small pair of fuzzy dice makes a decent scent wick for buck lures. Beyond that, a cushy camouflage seat cover is a nice extra, and a steering wheel with an air bag is a good safety feature to keep you from falling forward out of the stand.

The third possibility is limited to deer hunters who are also ice fishermen. I learned about this just last week when I ran into a fellow deer hunter at the local diner. This is by far the cheapest and most convenient way to sit comfortably while you're waiting for a buck to cross your path. I'll give complete details in next week's column.