Building a store with the boys: the story of the Stoney sequel


“It’s a little saga about intergenerational bonding, skill building and an appreciation for nature,” writes Svedarsky. “To be continued.”

Dan Svedarsky


POLK COUNTY, Minnesota – This story of a blind man to wildlife dates back to early summer, when I volunteered to help a friend repair a dock in Union Lake near Erskine, Minnesota, where Mario and Jill Schisano and their son, Marco, and his family, have a cabin.

They wanted to replace the plywood deck. Now, being a guy who hates throwing things away, I wondered how we could use that inch treated piece of plywood that was still in “pretty good shape”.

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In the weeds and poison ivy near where we were working, I spotted the frame of something with some pretty good tires on it. This turned out to be a boat trailer that “Grandpa Stoney” – Jill’s father Franklin Janecky – used in 1988 to haul a boat from Arizona.

Marco has three boys – Jake, Luciano and Nico – and they all love the outdoors, including deer hunting and venison consumption. Luc will participate in the youth hunt again this fall.

We chatted a bit and decided to build a wildlife blind. Luc had hunted from one of my blinds last fall and thought it was pretty cool.

So the boys – Luc and Nico – and I dug up the old boat trailer, loaded the old plywood and towed it to our prairie farm near Crookston. I only had one flat on the way home, but this is where “good enough” used tires come in handy.

I had a lot of ‘extra’ stuff in my barn / store at home including a 4 x 8 foot insulated floor panel from a convenience store, an old door pulled from the county dump years ago and a bunch of old boards I got from a neighbor. I also had just enough old scraps of roofing metal for the roof and a supply of old nails and hinges.

Marco and his boys had to go back to Cambridge, Minn., But my grandson, Ariston, came from Waconia, Minn., For a few weeks, and he and I did the big congregation. (He had helped build the “Sharpie Shack” the year before, an observation shade sponsored by the Sharp-tailed Grouse Society.)

There are many lessons to be learned as boys and girls build things with their parents and grandparents, including basic measurements, construction planning, the safe use of power tools, and learning how to drive nails into old planks.

Not to be minimized is patience.

In August, Marco and his boys were able to come back upstairs and help apply the camouflage treatment. Granted, it looked a bit like covered wagon graffiti, but maybe the wildlife won’t care. They might even be interested in coming for a closer look. I have a lot of extra brush around the property and decided to add some to the exterior.

We have a swampy area nearby with beavers and ducks so we brought the awning closer to this action until the fall deer hunt. In the spring, the blind will be moved to an exhibition ground for prairie chickens or sharp-tailed grouse so that visitors can witness the courtship displays.

Marco and his boys initially suggested that we call the blind the “Stoney Shack”, in honor of great-grandfather Stoney, an avid outdoorsman. But upon reflection, Marco remembered that Stoney always loved staying at Embassy Suites because they have a good breakfast. Thus, the store was renamed “The Stoney Suite”.

So far, the Stoney Suite has proven itself as a wildlife blind. It works well for beaver viewing, and a gray wolf even wandered around to check the surroundings on a recent Saturday morning.


Adorned with a brush for easy concealment, the Stoney Suite is ready for action next to a pond on the Dan Svedarsky property in Polk County.  The store was completed in August 2021. (Contributed / Dan Svedarsky)

Adorned with a brush for easy concealment, the Stoney Suite is ready for action next to a pond on the Dan Svedarsky property in Polk County. The store was completed in August 2021. (Contributed / Dan Svedarsky)


Ariston Svedarsky of Waconia, Minn., Is assembling parts and pieces during the summer of 2021 while working on the Stoney sequel.  (Contribution / Dan Svedarsky)

Ariston Svedarsky of Waconia, Minn., Is assembling parts and pieces during the summer of 2021 while working on the Stoney sequel. (Contribution / Dan Svedarsky)


Luciano (from left) and Nico Schisano from Cambridge, Minn., Sit on the old boat trailer in the summer of 2021. They finally turned the trailer into "Pierre Suite" a blind hunting and wildlife viewing.  (Contribution / Dan Svedarsky)

Luciano (left to right) and Nico Schisano of Cambridge, Minn., Sitting on the old boat trailer in the summer of 2021. They eventually turned the trailer into the “Stoney Suite”, a hunting and viewing awning for wildlife. (Contribution / Dan Svedarsky)


The local beaver population has found the Svedarsky Pond in Polk County to their liking.  The Stoney Suite, completed in August 2021, offers an ideal vantage point for observing the creatures.  (Contributed / Dan Svedarsky)

The local beaver population has found the Svedarsky Pond in Polk County to their liking. The Stoney Suite, completed in August 2021, offers an ideal vantage point for observing the creatures. (Contribution / Dan Svedarsky)


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