THE BAY CITY TIMES
POSEN - When Paul Darga set out to build a deer blind, his wife Barb pretty much knew what to expect. Especially when he fired up his crane.
"He's a big man and he thinks big," she said.
First thing Darga did was sink four telephone poles in concrete and start building up. And up. And up some more. He didn't stop until the four-story structure reached 36 feet at its peak. From the top deck of the blind, set on fertile farmland just north of this small Presque Isle County town, the views are spectacular.
"I can see six different farms from up there," Darga, 69, said. "I can see Lake Huron four miles away."
And deer? He can see them coming from a distance in all directions.
But if the deer aren't moving, no problem. This blind, like many through Michigan's north woods this time of year, has many creature comforts of home. The second floor features a "living area," complete with an easy chair and blanket, a table and a small, propane furnace with two tanks and even a cooking stove with an oven that is often fired up to bake a pizza.
There's a 16-foot ladder attached to the wall and leading up to the third level, which has a couch. A 14-foot ladder leads to the fourth level, where sits a single chair surrounded by windows on all sides.
The first level is the storage area and includes a generator that provides power for lights. There's no TV - yet, but the radio is just a click away.
Truly a home away from home. And sometimes it can be a bit too comfortable.
"It's a hell of a blind, I'll tell you," said Darga, who has two other similarly equipped blinds, 10-12 feet high. "We don't mess around. You gonna go deer hunting, you gotta relax. Sometimes you're out there and fall asleep. Deer go right by and you don't even see them."
At any given time, he said, there will be 20-30 deer within shooting distance of the blind.
"We've seen a couple of four-pointers, some spikes - a bunch of those," he said.
Above the stove on the third deck hangs a nice four-point rack from a deer shot from the towering blind.
"This year, I think we're going to get something better than that," he said.
"We" includes his wife and seven children, including four sons, and a slew of grandkids. Most of them have spent some time at the 2-year-old blind, which he figures cost him about $2,000.
Naturally, Darga is a popular man among his deer-hunting friends, too. One of them insists he got seasick when hunting from the top deck and felt the blind swaying in the breeze. Darga was skeptical, but went out the next day and had the blind anchored at all four corners by steel cables.
It's plenty strong and stable enough to add even more levels if he has to - just in case anyone has the notion to challenge his claim to the county's tallest deer blind. The retired crane operator - who has his own 1956 Lorain crane with a 50-foot boom, says the sky is virtually the limit.
"I say it's the tallest in Presque Isle County," Darga said. "But if someone comes along and wants to build one taller, come and do it. I can put another eight foot on easy, and make it higher yet. I can go 55 feet if I have to. I'll whip anybody."
Barb Darga would advise anyone not to doubt her husband.