Published November 30, 2008, 12:00 AM

Minnesota firm takes deer stand to new heights

Manufactured by New Height Technology of Alexandria, Minn., the Beanstalker has applications beyond deer hunting, inventor says.

By: Brad Dokken, Grand Forks Herald

Three weeks ago, I wrote a story about Norman Landby of Crookston, a retiree with a knack for building a better mousetrap who developed a deer stand that elevates by means of a hydraulic lift powered by a 12-volt battery.

It’s a slick idea, but Landby made the stand, which mounts on a trailer, for his personal use only and has no plans to build another one.

The story prompted a response from one hunter who said he liked the concept, especially for the Minnesota wildlife management areas he hunts, where stands can’t be left overnight but ATVs are allowed for limited hours during deer season.

The area where ATVs are permitted on WMA lands is listed on Page 106 of this year’s Minnesota hunting regulations handbook.

“There have been hydraulic deer stands available commercially for years,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Still, it got me thinking during my hours freezing while up in a portable deer stand or having deer after deer spook at my ground blind. There has to be a better way.”

He went on to supply me with a list of about a half-dozen companies across the U.S. that market various kinds of elevated lift stands. He’d obviously had plenty of time to think during this year’s deer season.

It was about the same time I received an e-mail from Larry Schultz. President of New Height Technology Inc., in Alexandria, Minn., Schultz developed a mobile-lift stand about three years ago.

Called the Beanstalker, Schultz’s hydraulic-lift system was included in the list the reader had sent me. It also was the only mobile lift to be manufactured in this area.

I talked to Schultz on Monday and learned he’s worked in hydraulics about 20 years. He came up with the idea for the Beanstalker about three years ago as a way to keep his dad, who’s 78, in the woods during deer season.

“I said, ‘I need to build you something so you don’t have to climb trees,’ ” Schultz, 42, said. “Dad thought I was crazy, but we built one together. It came together pretty fast.”

Thinking he was on to something, Schultz contacted a patent attorney, who said there wasn’t a patent on the kind of hydraulic lift that attaches directly to the platform.

So, Schultz set about obtaining a patent for the technology that raises the Beanstalker. It’s a slow, costly process, he said, but the patent now is pending.

“The patent is the way our basket is attached directly to the cylinder,” Schultz said. “There hasn’t been a man lift created where the actual cylinder is the support and the main power for the basket.”

Traditional lifts, by comparison, typically feature a scissor-like design in which multiple steel angles move together and provide the support. Most also have motorized wheels, Schultz says, which would classify them as vehicles and illegal for hunting.

“Ours, the wheels aren’t motorized, and you’re able to pull it out and hunt on it,” Schultz said. For added stability, the Beanstalker features sliding axles to extend the wheelbase when set up for use and jacks to further secure the front and back ends.

According to Schultz, the platform on the Beanstalker sits at 5 feet when retracted and lifts to a height of 12 feet. The company also markets an optional canvas that resembles a ground blind and fits over the platform, which measures 5 feet square.

Schultz says he’s in the process of setting up a dealer network for the Beanstalker. He’s worked with a handful of sporting goods stores, he says, but also is beginning to market the Beanstalker as a tool for other uses. It will lift up to 6,000 pounds, he says, and can be used for such chores as cleaning gutters, washing windows or sawing branches.

“The deer hunter’s market is just a few months,” Schultz said. “This is a portable man lift, so it really can be used throughout the year.”

Schultz says New Height Technology now is working on a handicapped-accessible version of the lift that should hit the market in either the first or second quarter of 2009.

“It’s overwhelming how many people have come up and said, ‘if we could just get a wheelchair in there,’” Schultz said. “It’s really a given that we need to come up with a stand that’s handicapped-accessible.”

He’s also exploring the idea of coordinating hunts using the product.

“We have some land to hunt on, and it made me realize that we’re pretty fortunate,” Schultz said. “Our health is good, and we’re able to do this kind of thing. So that’s my goal.”

Getting the Beanstalker to market has been a demanding process, Schultz says, but it’s also been worthwhile.

“It’s been a pretty fun venture with my father and I,” he said. “It enables us to keep hunting together and enjoy it.”

On the Web:

www.newheighttechnology.com.

Dokken reports on outdoors. Reach him at (701) 780-1148; (800) 477-6572, ext. 148; or send e-mail to bdokken@gfherald.com.

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