Published July 26, 2012, 12:06 AM

Luxury taken away from ice houses

I remember one winter several years ago local news outlets ran stories about break-ins at ice houses on Minnesota lakes. I’m pretty sure I felt sorry for the victims. After all, nobody likes to see other people lose their hard-earned possessions. Unless maybe that person is Paris Hilton.

By: Nathan Hansen, The Dickinson Press

I remember one winter several years ago local news outlets ran stories about break-ins at ice houses on Minnesota lakes. I’m pretty sure I felt sorry for the victims. After all, nobody likes to see other people lose their hard-earned possessions. Unless maybe that person is Paris Hilton. Then it’s kind of satisfying.

But, since it seems safe to assume the hotel heiress, onetime reality star and most famous person ever filmed in night vision is unlikely to own an ice house on even the most exclusive Minnesota lake, there was empathy.

That is, there was empathy until I started actually reading about the things that were stolen. These hardy winter fishermen were losing on-the-ice essentials like flat-screen televisions, stereos and, presumably, generators. Apparently these lake-bound fishing shacks were nicer than some people’s homes. And that’s when I started to feel less bad.

I went ice fishing several times when I was younger. My uncle brought me with him right up until the time I realized it was OK for me to decline his invitations. We never had a fancy, weatherproofed shelter from the elements. About the only concession to human comforts I can remember is one time we had a bucket to sit on.

It didn’t help as much as I might have hoped.

I was reminded of all of this recently by a story from our sister paper in Duluth. It seems St. Louis County officials are becoming alarmed by what passes for deer stands these days in their forests.

Based on my bucket-centric upbringing, I always imagined deer stands — on the rare occasions I imagined them at all — as tiny, tree-bound platforms where hunters perched, uncomfortable and alone, to wait for an unfortunate deer to wander past.

Silly me. Apparently people have started building deer “stands” that are essentially cabins on stilts. They have shingled roofs and professional windows, lounge chairs and tables. One stand pictured with the story had a grill stored underneath. Presumably that could be used to cook up all the venison the hunters bring in.

If our hunter-gatherer ancestors could see what passes for hunting these days, they would shake their heads in shame.

Actually, they would probably freak out about electricity and modern firearms and Gore-Tex jackets. But if they got over that without turning catatonic, then they would definitely do the same thing.

If all you want to do is sit in a modern building and eat meat, why not just bring something home from the grocery store? You can even shop in blaze orange if you want.

I don’t know, maybe these modern outdoorsmen are onto something. Why should we be uncomfortable when we get back to the great outdoors. Maybe we can bring modern luxuries to other sporting activities. We can add recliners to our surfboards and pedicure chairs to our bass boats.

Why should roughing it mean any more inconvenience than not having ready access to a dry cleaner?

Just make sure to lock up your flat screen TVs.

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