Dave's Place: Cheap Seats, Part 2

Take a tip-up from an ice fisherman.

Field & Stream Online Editors

Last week, I told you about a pair of tree stands I came across in the woods. The first featured an old La-Z-Boy recliner, the second a discarded car seat. Both illustrated excellent--and inexpensive--ways to enjoy total comfort while hunting. With a little hard work and a trip to the junkyard or thrift shop, any hunter can sit in a tree and feel as if he's never left his living room or vehicle.

Yet as brilliant as those options may be, they do require something that you might need to scrounge for: the recliner or car seat. If, however, you're an ice fisherman who happens to already own an ice shanty, preferably a heated one, your road to hunting luxury is already paved.

As with the above methods, I can't take credit for this one; it comes instead from a friend of a friend of a friend. At a local diner, after an afternoon deer hunt, my buddy Jo recognized the man sitting at the table next to us.

"Hey, Al," Jo said. "How you been?"

"Good, Jo, and you?"

"Not bad. Say, how's old Bill doing? You see much of him these days?"

"Oh yeah," Al said with a nod, "saw him just before I came here. I was helping him drag his ice shanty into the woods to hunt deer from."

Now this, of course, makes perfect sense. In many parts of the country, lakes don't freeze solid until after the deer season. Why go to the trouble and expense of constructing an elaborate tree stand or ground blind when you've got a ready-made shelter that--given the current trend toward luxury shanties--is probably plenty cozy? All you have to do is drag the thing into the woods.

Al did, however, bring up one potential drawback. "I told Bill that if he sees a buck, he won't know whether to set the hook or pull the trigger."

This is a valid point, and to avoid any confusion, you might want to clear the shanty of any fishing equipment. On the other hand, it might be helpful to have a few tip-ups handy.

"Bill says if he doesn't see any deer for a few days, he's going to set his tip-ups out off the left side of the shanty," Al continued.

"Why the left side?" Jo asked.

"He has better luck when he puts them off that side."