May 2008
Howle's Hints

Getting Off the Ground

By John Howle

 
  Check the level of the posts multiple times to ensure squareness.
Once turkey season begins to taper off, May offers an ideal time for projects around the farm. Maybe you have a youngster or grandchild who is progressing beyond squirrel hunting and feels ready for larger game. An elevated shooting house makes an ideal structure for keeping youngsters excited about the outdoors as they progress from squirrel hunting to deer hunting.

Plan before picking a spot

Pick a spot for the shooting house where the wind will be in your face as you view the food plot. In addition, go to the spot in the morning and evening to determine the sun’s path so it won’t be in your eyes while hunting. Select a fairly level site and layout a rough area approximately four feet wide and six feet long, the dimensions of the shooting house.

Dig the support postholes

To make sure the structure would be square, I made a four foot by six foot frame out of two by fours braced in the corners. Simply lay the frame on the ground to mark your four post holes. Remove the frame and begin digging the holes for the four structure posts. Replace the frame when you are ready to set the posts in place, and this will help ensure the structure is square as you level the upper portions of the posts.

I dug the postholes two feet deep. The 12-foot posts (4 x 6) were set in concrete providing a strong, stable framing structure. Be sure to check the level of the posts more than once to ensure the structure will be square even up to the attaching of the tin on the roof.

I let the posts harden in concrete for a day before proceeding. Proceed to the next steps within a day or two after setting the posts because moist, treated lumber will twist making it hard to attach planks squarely to the sides as the sun dries the wood.

 
5/4 round decking was used on the floor, door, walls and lathing.
 
 
 
  5/4 round decking was attached to 2 x 4 rafters for tin lathing.
Frame it, wall it and top it

I framed out the floor frame with two by six lumber which was also used to frame the top ledges and rafters. For the floors, sides, door and roof lathing, 5/4 round treated decking was used. Galvanized, corrugated tin was used for the roof, and the tin was attached with screws containing rubber washers.

This elevated shooting house sits approximately four feet off the ground. This provides enough elevation to see over briar patches at the edge of the field and is low enough to be stable during whipping winds. The inside height ranges from six feet at the high end to five and a half feet at the entrance.


 
Before completing the walls, stop to check the height for the shooting portholes.  
The shooting portholes on the sides and front are eight inches high allowing for a scoped rifle. As you attach the side and front boards of the shooting house, sit in a chair you will be hunting from to determine the right height for the shooting portholes. Have the youngster check the shooting height as well.

I used 5/4 round treated decking, which is the same lumber you would use on your backyard deck. The hardware used consisted of 2½ inch five-star screws for the 5/4 round lumber, 3½ inch five-star screws for the two by four lumber, and carriage bolts and lag screws for attaching the framing of the structure. Finally, two heavy-duty barn door hinges and one hook latch were used for the door.

Shooting House Comforts

The shooting house helps conceal the excited movements of youngsters when a deer makes its appearance. First, select a couple of comfortable, quiet chairs that don’t squeak or clang. Next, line the floor of the shooting house with carpet or a rubber mat. I used a discarded truck bed mat cut to the size of the floor to absorb sounds.

Even though the shooting house provides a windbreak, temperatures inside the house can be quite chilly for a youngster. Mr. Heater manufactures the Heater Buddy, a portable heater which is safe to use indoor and will provide hours of silent heat on each canister of propane. The Heater Buddy is available at your local Co-op store.
 
Add camo netting for additional cover for the shooting portholes.  

 
  Let youngsters help. Carriage bolts provide strength for floor frame.
With hearing-enhanced ear protection, the adult and child can communicate by whispers without spooking deer, and the muffs automatically shut off hearing at the instant of muzzle blast. Walker’s Game Ear carries the Power Muffs Quad Camo for $234.95 available online at www.walkersgameear.com.

Add shelving to hold items like a mug of coffee, sandwich or box of ammo. A shelf can be created as easily as turning a two by four flat ways between the posts inside the shooting house. Hooks placed on the wall make ideal hangers for game calls, binoculars, range finder or rattling antlers. For further concealment, cover the shooting portholes with camouflage netting.

 
 
  Completed shooting house.
Labor and costs

I built this shooting house in about three weeks working on the weekends. I would also suggest letting the younger hunters help with simple chores like handing up planks and screws. They will appreciate the shooting house more if they can take part in some part of construction.

For around $500, you can build an elevated shooting house that will withstand the elements and provide comfort lasting for future generations as they hunt.

Spend time in the shooting house explaining what’s planted in the food plot and the animals attracted to it. Keep a bird identification or a deer field judging book handy.

If you would like a complete set of plans including illustrated drawings and a materials list, send a $10 check or money order to John Howle, 12015 County Road 49, Heflin, AL 36264. Please include your mailing address and phone number.

John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.