March 2007
Featured Articles

Hunt from the Stump for Gobblers this Spring

John Daniel is shown hunting from a stump seat.  
By John Howle

For every tree I cut off the farm, I try to use every part. Whether you are cutting firewood or having timber thinned, even the stump can serve a useful purpose this spring. With some ingenuity, a simple tree stump can be turned into a creative, permanent turkey blind.

If you are cutting firewood, the first part involves getting the tree on the ground. On trees larger than six inches, three cuts with a chainsaw will be required. A 45 degree first cut is followed by a horizontal second on the face side of the tree. This creates a wedge that is removed, and this determines the direction of fall for the tree. Finally, the third cut is made on the back side of the tree about two inches higher that the horizontal face cut with the saw blade being parallel to the ground. This should send the tree on the way down.

Stump cuts

If you will vary this style of felling a tree slightly, you can create a comfortable seat from which to hunt. The only difference is the three felling cuts are made approximately three feet higher for the stump seat design. Once a high stump is created, two more cuts will finish the job.

The first cut on the stump starts at the top and ends toward the base of the stump. The second cut is just like the second cut on the face side of the tree when felling. These two cuts remove a huge chunk of the stump
  The side cut removes the entire chunk from the stump.
leaving an "L" shaped stump from which to sit.

Safety first

Before cutting any trees, protect yourself with chainsaw chaps, a safety helmet, ear muffs, safety goggles or face shield, thick, leather gloves, and non-skid leather boots. In addition, colder weather is an ideal time to cut these trees because a thick shirt or jacket helps prevent injury from cutting accidents or limb slaps.

Never head out alone to cut trees. In a worst-case scenario, you could find yourself pinned down with no one to assist. Always have an escape route cleared out around the tree you intend to cut, and never turn your back on a falling tree.

Locate the site and tree for the hunting stump

If you are cutting firewood and decide to make a stump seat, look for shoulder width trees on higher ridges. There’s a good reason for this. Gobblers rarely come downhill to calling. Most often they will approach your yelps and purrs on the same level or they will travel uphill to get to you. Also, placing you stump seat blind on a ridge or elevated area gives a better view of incoming turkeys.

If you are involved with a wildlife management program, you would want to avoid cutting your heavy acorn producers like whiteoak or redoak. Sweetgums and large maples are less desirable and may be another option for your stump seat. Avoid using pine trees for your stump seat for obvious reasons like gluing yourself to the stump with pine resin.

If you want the seat to have a long life, however, hardwoods can’t be beat for their stump longevity. Try to pick a shoulder-width hardwood that may be forked or crooked on the way up. This way you’ll have good quality firewood, you’re eliminating a less desirable timber tree, and you’ll have a long lasting seat.
John Howle removes a chunk of wood leaving an “L” shaped seat.  

What to do with all this wood

Once the tree is on the ground, and you’ve cut out your stump hunting seat, you’ll have firewood to cut and limbs to stack. With a little extra work with the chain saw, you can cut the limbs in lengths short enough to create a circular blind around the seat. Instead of cutting the entire tree in firewood lengths, save the larger limbs for the construction of the blind around the stump. Once these larger limbs are cut into eight to 10 foot sections, they are easy to place and stack in a circle or semi-circle around the blind.

Now you’re left with the main trunk of the tree that can be cut into firewood lengths for use at home or in the cabin. Instead of hauling the wood home, leave it in stacks in front of or beside the stump seat. This gives additional cover while turkey hunting, and it allows the wood to cure in the woods instead of stacked in your woodpile. Once you’ve harvested that fine tom and turkey season is over, feel free to take that stack of firewood to the house.

Comfort in the seat

On some turkey hunts, you may have sent out a few soft yelps, had a gobbler immediately show up, and find yourself with a harvest in less than 10 minutes. Then there are those days where hours are spent sitting and waiting. You can at least make that wait more comfortable by placing a comfortable cushion on the stump such as the ones made by Hunt Comfort, and you are ready for a full day of turkey hunting.

All natural

An advantage to the stump seat is that it is all natural and isn’t as likely to spook wary birds. Being permanent, this blind will become a part of the forest landscape, and wildlife won’t notice anything out of place. Finally, the stump seat is ideal for deer and squirrel hunting as well because the high back conceals half the hunter’s body. As time goes by and the limbs deteriorate and settle, simply add more fresh limbs and leaves each spring while keeping a bird’s eye view of your game.

While constructing a stump seat, be sure to follow all safety precautions as you would while felling any tree, and don’t become lax just because the tree in on the ground. Once the seat is constructed, invite a youngster to hunt with you. Let the youth sit in the stump seat, and you can call turkeys from a distance behind. The best part is you made it on your own, and it didn’t cost a dime.

John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.