Tree stands and me-not a match made in Heaven

I am terrified of heights. And while I know alot of people will sympathize and give me helpful hints, really I’m not listening. I can’t. Their advice will make sense, I’ll try it and then there I am again, stuck on the fourth rung of a ladder stand – sweaty palms clutching on with a death grip. People mean well but knowing myself,the only thing that would work for me is to suck it up, put on my big girl pants and just do it. Only I’ve said that multiple times as well.

Oh and to make this cosmic fear/joke even better, why should I just stop at being afraid of heights from a stand? Let me go whole hog on the whole height/fear issue. Walk up grandstands? Better just head on up and get comfortable in your seats; I will get there sooner or later-usually later. Drive through the mountains? You better knock me out or tie me up because I’m crying the whole way through.(Thank you IBO Worlds and Snowshoe Mountain for that enlightening experience.)

What’s your point JoAnn? Well since I bet alot of hunters or huntresses out there are like me, here is how I am SLOWLY working on getting over this fear. Or at least not letting it control my life anymore. Notice I said working on this because I’m not sure I will ever be totally over it.

1 – I am lucky enough to own a few acres and have a ladder stand installed on a tree in my backyard. Attached to the stand are two ropes; one used to hoist up my bow, the second is a lifeline rope with another smaller loop of rope with a prusik knot.

2 – I practice putting on and taking off my harness in my living room so I can do this as quietly as possible without getting everything tangled up.

3 – I then go outside to the stand. In regular clothes, I practice attaching onto the lifeline, climbing the ladder stand, getting to the top and hooking up the umbilical line to the strap which is located behind the seat. At that point I am double hooked-to the strap and to the lifeline. I do this step multiple times-it’s overkill, I know but it helps.

4 – After I feel semi-comfortable with the whole climbing and settling in procedure, I then repeat but this time I am dressed in my camo clothes along with any extras like a backpack. It’s kind of like dress rehearsal. I go to the stand, attach my bow to my hoist line. I then attach the umbilical cord of my harness to the lifeline. I climb up, anchor in and pull my bow up.I practice this multiple times to try to get as quiet as possible. I can play around with the option of hoisting up my back pack or climbing up wearing it.

5 – Lastly, after I am settled in and my legs don’t feel like I need to jump up and down with energy, I practice shooting from my stand. I think everyone should do this whether or not they have a fear of heights but for me, practice is even more crucial. It’s hard to concentrate on the shot when your entire body has adrenaline pumping through it and the deer isn’t in front of you yet.

For someone like me, I didn’t get through any of these steps the first time. I basically stood on the ladder rungs and sweated. Tried another step and there were tears involved. My husband’s hand on my ass while saying “Just go, You’re okay”, honestly didn’t help either. I did tell him what he could do with his hand and it wasn’t pleasant. At that point he left me alone. Although looking back he did hang multiple stands for me so I guess I should go apologize now.

I’m still really afraid of heights and that will never go away. But by chiseling away at that fear by little steps at least I can now function in a tree stand.

I wish you well this season!

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