AP Photo/Herald & Review, Kelly J. Huff
Pat Highley takes a little target practice to site his gun in for the upcoming shotgun deer season from his deer stand near Shelbyville, Ill. Highley's plush hunting blind, 22 feet off the ground, has electricity, heat, a microwave and even a simplified bathroom system.
AP Photo/Herald & Review, Kelly J. Huff
Pat Highley's self-sufficient deer blind near Shelbyville, Ill., has hooks available to hang all his hunting gear.
Illinois man designs unique deer stand
(Decatur) Herald & Review
SHELBYVILLE, Ill. (AP) - Pat Highley is the proud owner of a deer stand to die for.
From its simply superb craftsmanship to the fine aesthetic sense revealed in its interior decoration, it’s clear this lofty platform marks a new high-water mark of civilization in the otherwise rough-and-ready world of deer hunting.
How many deer stands have you seen, for example, with a 360-degree field of fire through sliding double-glazed windows?
“Well, I am really proud of it,” said Highley, who lives amid more than five rolling and wooded acres in the sticks about eight miles north of Shelbyville. The Cadillac of deer stands sits on the edge of the timber, a quick hunting trot from his living room and effectively doubling as a second living room that’s 22 feet up in the air. It’s reached after scaling 31 steps, and the structure - Highley calls it an “elevated hunting cabin” - sits atop a rock-steady network of treated timbers that betray no movement as visitors enter via a trapdoor in the floor.
The plywood paneled interior walls of the 8-by-8-foot, 7-foot-tall cabin are overlaid in a brown paint wash that serves to accent the natural grain of the wood. Highley went that route after listening to his wife,
“She said, ‘Oh, that’s such a pretty grain, you are not going to just paint over it, are you?’” he recalls. “So I watered the paint down and took a sponge to put it on.”
The windows on all four sides were a special-order item from Menards, and the 2-by-4-foot panels slide in both directions and also pop out.
Highley and guests sit on color-matched brown swiveling kitchen stools he picked up from Target, and every creature comfort is catered for: wired for electricity, the elevated hunting cabin boasts a microwave, a small fridge stocked with beer and soft drinks - fridge and microwave are painted a pleasing shade of brown - and subtle interior lighting working off a dimmer switch.
Electric fans and the windows ensure plenty of moving fresh air, and there is an electric heater augmented by a propane heater (fed from a brown-painted bottle braced against one of the structure’s legs on the ground) for when it gets really nippy.
Highley explains that he’s been in love with hunting since he shot his first deer when he was 23, but Time’s winged chariot hurries near, and now, at age 56, he’s not the young buck he used to be.
“As you get older, the cold and wet weather get harder to deal with,” he explains, looking around his comfortable pad. “I know there are a lot of diehards who will say this is not really hunting, but it will do for me.”
It took years of careful thought and planning, about $6,000 worth of materials and two months of purely his own work to make the ultimate deer stand a reality. The fully insulated cabin, which has a gently
pitched brown steel roof and matching vinyl siding, was built as a self-contained unit on the ground. Then the finished room, which weighs about 2,000 pounds, was lifted onto the supporting structure with the help of friends and a borrowed machine that looks like a giant forklift.
Highley’s proud, 83-year-old mom, Mary, has made the climb to the cabin and can’t help but brag about her son’s remarkable achievement. “That is quite a deer stand,” she said. “He’s just like his father: He can’t rest until everything he does is perfect.”
She said her boy, the president and chief executive officer of Decatur-based CC Fire Equipment Co. Inc., has strived to achieve business success and earned the right to indulge himself a little in his pastimes. “He’s worked very, very hard to get where he is,” adds his mom. “He deserves the chance to take some time off in comfort.”
The elevated hunting cabin will be first used in anger after deer shotgun season gets under way Nov. 19 and, never fear, there are plenty of targets crisscrossing trails within easy range of those double-glazed windows. Highley knows, because he has rigged up a series of automatic cameras tied to trees that snap time-stamped images whenever triggered by a passing member of the local herd.
“I know what size deer are out there and where and when they’re moving,” he explains.
Of course, he may still have to wait awhile for that 14-point champion to show up and, after a few drinks to pass the time and lots of sitting, even the most comfortable sky perch isn’t deaf to the insistent call of nature.
Happily, Highley has thought of that, too, with a long plastic pipe (for male users and No. 1s only), that runs all the way from the cabin floor down a support leg to a drain deep underground. The pipe, naturally, is colored a fetching shade of brown.
Information from: Herald & Review, http://www.herald-review.com
In this photo taken Nov. 9, 2010, Pat Highley takes his shotgun and heads towards his home after checking his scope for distance from his custom-made, self-sufficient deer stand near Shelbyville, Ill.
(AP Photo/Herald & Review, Kelly J. Huff)