Well it’s been a long journey, I set out to build a deer shed that would store vehicles, boats, mowers, ATV’s, tree stands, tools, work benches, metal fab shop, scent free hunting gear, a full kitchen, meat locker plant, and an indoor archery range. Wow how’s that for a want list? Believe it or not I’ve gotten everything I need in there; not all of it in the capacity I had once hoped but enough to fill the need.
First let’s look at the pitfalls, failures and things that just didn’t work. I was general contractor and ended up doing most all of the work as well, I hired a few things like plumbing and masonry but learned several trades along the way, such as electrical. If I had to do it over again I would have went with a poured concrete foundation rather than block, I think it might have gone more smoothly and a little quicker and cheaper.
I should have run a vent stack through the roof for the furnace when I was roofing and the weather was mild instead of having to mess with it in the cold, icy nasty weather. I should have had a professional help figure the budget as I was drastically over my original unrealistic low ball number. I expected to be about 20-30% over my original rough draft but not 50% - Yikes, it’s still worth it.
I have room for the boat in the summer but not in the winter so offsite storage is still needed, I don’t have room for the quad and the mower at the same time so the yard barn is still a necessity, which turns out is a better place to store gas and chemicals anyway, so not a total failure but an added need!
I can park a vehicle inside and work on multiple projects or I can cut up/butcher meat on one side and park in the other. Rarely will I have a major project going on while needing to park inside and butcher meat all in the same day. I rarely take on side projects during deer season so this works well.
Now on to the things that went well and are must have’s; it needs to be buttoned up tight to keep critters out and be low maintenance, after all you don’t want to be outside staining cedar siding, painting or patching a fancy roof up while you could be hanging stands or crappie fishing. A 30 year roof, vinyl siding and commercial grade insulated garage doors keep everything dry and secure. A steel roof would have been even better but wasn’t an option for new construction per zoning/code.
If you have to cut corners, you could probably go from 30 lb. roof paper to 15, or even cheapen up the brand of siding, maybe even forgo a window in the door but I say DO NOT go cheap on a garage door. You’ll end up replacing it sooner than anything else on the building. I chose C.H.I. garage doors made locally in Arthur, IL. Its solid metal surface inside and out with full insulation and extra bracing for extreme wind and weather. These doors are just about bullet proof, I can now heat my home’s garage with a pilot light on a gas heater the doors are sealed so tight and insulated so well; A must have!
I also advocate for having an electric deer winch, I know an old chain engine hoist or a rope pulley work but honestly for $100 from Harbor Freight you can’t go wrong and will keep you from throwing your back out or wresting with a broken rotted rope. I installed two 1100 lb. winches about 10 feet apart in the ceiling to hang two deer at once or lift a boat off a trailer, remove an outboard engine or a truck topper, jeep top, etc., the uses are endless. A good investment indeed.
Not every deer shed will have an attic space and honestly the cost of the trusses was increased by about $1500 to have “attic in” trusses but to me the extra 650 square foot of storage was worth it. A steep roof lasts longer and the provided room will store tons of tree stands, household items like Christmas trees and lights (Let’s face it, if momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy, and this made momma happy). It also allows for a 12 yard long indoor archery range and future spot to put in a bow press and archery tech gear to tune my own bows; agreed it’s not a necessity but it sure is nice.
A bathroom that once was a dream will be a scent free bathing reality, sadly as the budget tightened the bathroom got put on hold until after deer season, but will be in place for the future and seems to be on the must have list, the convenience will be great to clean up before a hunt or after butchering or hanging stands.
Speaking of working on stands, no “real shed, or man cave” is complete without a welding station, right? There has to be a place to build, create and repair tree stands and other outdoor necessities. So a three sided metal fab shop complete with tree section for testing out tree stand effectiveness is top priority for me. Not only trees stand and deer gear but boat trailers, hog smokers, mower decks, you name it will get worked on here, it’s an absolute must for a do it yourself guy like me!
Fishing storage needs its own consideration just like scent free clothing for deer, they both have their own challenges, like an 8 foot door to get your mobile rod storage rack in and out! An ozone machine in a closet with rubber gaskets will keep smells out and neutral scent in so your gear is always ready and being rejuvenated while not in use.
The number one priority is having a place friends can come over and butcher, eat together, fellowship and swap stories. So a nice, neat, clean area for cutting up meat, making a pot of coffee, cooking some biscuits and gravy and having a fridge and 40 inch TV for ball games and hunting shows is a must, well maybe not a must but sure is nice.
Along with keeping the building safe from weather with good windows and doors, very affordable security systems and cameras are available these days as well from a variety of vendors. This can be critical if in a remote area where not often over seen or even in a busy suburban setting. Safety and security should never be compromised. Don’t forget those fire extinguishers and a plan in place should you ever have a problem with storms, fire or vandalism!
Whether you have a 10’x12’ yard barn or a 60’x80’ pole barn a deer shed is a must, and you must make it your own. Start a want list and a savings account, it’s taken me two decades but worth the wait. Please feel free to add your comments to the must have or have not list in your ideal deer shed.
Good luck this season and until next time,
Matt Cheever ~ Flatlander