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!

Essentials for my backpack

Below are some things that are always in my pack. I just will not go into the woods without them – no matter the season.

Pack of tissues-especially during the spring turkey season!
ChapStick
Flashlight
Some wire ties for attaching a tag
Snips to take care of any branches I might have missed during the set up
Folding Knife
Pen for filing out tag
License and tags
Permission slips
Saline solution-nothing worse than a dry contact lens in the stand!
Reusable rubber coated Gear Ties
Pair of black Red Head glove liners-these work great to use in the dead of winter under heavy gloves or on the spring as a light weight option
Cell phone

Additional items will get added at certain times of the year for different seasons or my weapon of choice but there are some things this girl cannot do without!

A tip when setting up a ground blind or tree stand

Hunting season is almost upon us.  In some areas of the country, people are already hitting the woods.  As you are setting up your ground blind or tree stand, please do yourself a favor and make sure you have the clearance necessary to make your shot.  If you have done so already, it doesn’t hurt to go back and recheck.  You might be saying to yourself, “What are you talking about Jo Ann, I’ve cleaned out my shooting lanes?”  I’m talking about the structure of the blind itself, like a support bar, that you need to make sure you can clear.

If you are using shooting sticks for a crossbow determine a comfortable height now that will also allow your limbs and bolt to clear the blind before that animal walks out.  The bolt can nick the blind as it leaves the crossbow if you don’t make sure the clearance is there.

If you are shooting a vertical bow, make sure you can pull that bow back and your arm doesn’t get hung up on any part of the blind itself.  Pulling back a bow and having your arm hit the side will either make noise or make you reposition yourself on the fly.  This rush might end up in a poorly placed shot or you just get busted by the deer.  Work the kinks out now before the season to ensure your success.

And don’t forget to read more Tips of the Week from Ladies In Camo: Ladies In Camo on Facebook.  An organization I am quite proud to be a part of!

Where I live in MD, it’s hot and humid right now

So take a break, get something cool to drink and watch my husband John on a self filmed 2014 hunt in Maryland.  It’s a video that’s short enough your boss won’t catch you not working!

Here’s the link to the Youtube video:

John’s 2014 hunt

Happy Hunting! Jo

My newest product review for 30-06 Outdoors

Hello everyone!  I wanted to provide you with a link to my latest product review on the Ladies in Camo website.  While you are there please check out all of the product reviews and hunting opportunities Ladies In Camo has to offer.

Here is the link:

http://ladiesincamo.com/licpr/2015/03/04/30-06-outdoors-deluxe-camo-crossbow-case-by-joann-herbert/

 

 

 

Picture of case

30-06 Deluxe Camo Crossbow case Photo credit: JoAnn Herbert

 

 

A new look in 2015!

This year has started out with a bang.  In January I was able to attend the Archery Trade association (ATA) show in Indianapolis, IN.  Met some great people, froze my butt off and came home with the flu. Was it worth it?  Absolutely!  I could have done without the whole flu part but knowing that a lot and I mean ALOT of great people work in the hunting industry just inspired me to get out there and do more!

More like what?  For starters I have updated the look of my blog.  The old blog just felt tired to me and hunting is anything but tired.  Tiring? Yes – but exciting.

I also have to face some truths this year about the industry and myself.

So here goes:

I don’t name all of the deer I get on camera. Does that make me be less of a hunter?  I do name some of them-just not all.

I hate the red light on my husband’s camera.  People think I look comfortable in front of the lens – I don’t. I want to suit up, get out there and hunt. When did my hunt turn into getting a closeup? No one wants to see me close up at 6 am but I also love the fact that we share these videos. He’s going to need to tape that stupid red light over-I’m done trying to deal with it.

I hate field dressing any animal. I don’t want to suck it up and get on with it.

I hate being cold.  I’ll tough it out but that last half hour in the cold?  I’m like deer go away. So far I’ve never packed it up because of the cold but my heart wasn’t in it. I hate that.

I hate bugs.  Early season spiders and mosquitoes creep me out. I use my Thermacell but I’m just as likely to have a total melt down in the middle of the woods. Ask my daughter about me, the spider the size of my hand taking a ride on my hat and the scream I let loose.

I hate not being successful. Oh now that one is going to get me in trouble.  There is nothing, nothing, like sitting in a blind, watching the sun rise or the dew dry on a piece of grass.  Listening to turkeys gobble as the fog rolls in.  Hearing a snort wheeze for the very first time was fantastic!  Those memories are successes all on their own.  But lets face it-I WANT to get the animal I am hunting.  I want the drag. I want to make the phone call-hey-come get me-I got him.  I am competitive. Sorry I want the buck I’ve been getting on my camera. Back off.

Why do I agonize so much about a good shot?  I constantly feel inadequate.  I do practice and I am familiar with whatever bow/gun I am using.  So it’s not that.  I won’t be one of those people that video their hunts and then have high fives all around after the shot when everyone sitting on their couch watching the video knows that shot was bad. But I wish I wouldn’t stress so much over it.

I hate that I don’t know as much as I want to know.  Every single time I go hunting or just shoot my bow, I learn something new.  Yes every time.  I constantly try to learn more and more.  And yet I feel so ignorant of the amount of knowledge I should know.

So on that note-hang on, it’s going to be a brutal, in your face and hopefully fact filled 2015!

Meet My Inspiration……..

This article isn’t about a product review, a hunting tip or even about a successful hunt. It’s about the one thing that hunters rarely talk about. It’s about what you find while hunting or rather what you find when hunting is in your life.

There is one spot that we have hunted for about 12 years now. It’s an unlikely location for hunting but one that consistently offers up does and occasionally throws in a buck or two. And because we have hunted the area for so long, we are familiar with the area, the people and the wildlife. Last season, we started getting trail cam pictures of an injured doe that apparently had been hit by a car. It was either that or attacked by a dog. And remember how I said the location was an unlikely location for hunting? Well it’s a slice of woods that matches up to an even larger slice of woods outside of Annapolis, MD. Yes – just outside the city of Annapolis, the Naval Academy and all that. So considering how urban and congested this part of the state is, I am inclined to lean toward the theory that she was hit by a car. Anyway, we never saw this doe during the daylight hours. However at night she was constantly at the feeder. Her back right leg was badly mangled with a protruding bone. The white of the bone shown brightly on the pictures so it was obvious what we were looking at. I fractured my arm 10 years ago and that hurt for weeks. I can’t imagine the pain this girl was in. I contemplated taking her out before infection did. That is, if I ever saw her during legal shooting hours which we never did. John and I discussed the fact that we weren’t even sure if we could use the meat due to the infection. But to see repeated pictures of an animal in apparent distress is disheartening. On the other hand, she was smart enough to hunker down for the day, she was certainly mobile and she definitely wasn’t starving considering the corn that was disappearing from the feeder.

Then about 3 weeks from when we first saw her injuries, we received a surprise. There was a picture that showed her leg, more specifically the lower 8 inches of her leg, was just gone. A nice clean stub right at the end. And still she was completely mobile and independent. And from that the name of Gimpy Girl was born. Please, please I mean NO disrespect by naming this animal Gimpy Girl. You would know why , well as soon as you see her-she gimps around and she’s a doe. Period.

When the season ended, John removed the blind and cameras. Occasionally we would wonder how Gimpy Girl was faring. Round about July, we placed the cameras and feeder back. Shortly thereafter Gimpy Girl showed up. She is smaller that most does in the area but that doesn’t surprise me. We only see her once or twice a week so it does appear she has resumed the normal traveling habits of whitetail. This year, no matter what family member uses this blind we all have an understanding: If the only doe that walks in front of us is Gimpy Girl-then you go home empty – she is off limits. There have to be some rewards for perseverance.

Finally, two weekends ago, I sat in the blind, attempting to remain frozen while staring at a small hesitant spike out of the front window of the blind. He was hung up about 40 yards out. Then I noticed out of the side window movement of brown and then a flick of white. And there was Gimpy Girl-out and about in the daylight. A ballerina of the woods she was not. A step and step and then more like a bob of the head down and a hop. But in her jerky up and down movement of walking I was inspired. And she wasn’t slow by any means. How tough! How resourceful! She was and still is beautiful to me.

And now you see – this article is not about hunting. It’s because this creature inspired me I had to let others know. She deserved to have her story told. It’s not a big glamorous story but it’s a story that a lot of us could relate to. Life might knock you down, leave you with scars but it’s about how you handle that – it’s about what you do with that life that matters. Look, this doe isn’t a martyr-she is just a doe. But I believe if more humans acted like Gimpy Girl so much could be accomplished. It’s so obvious – and I learned that-from a doe. It’s a good feeling to know we share the same woods.

I have to fess up on a part of hunting I don’t like………………

I don’t field dress my deer.  There – I’ve said it.  Let’s call it another term-gutting a deer.  I don’t do that either , ha ha.  I know – I suppose if I take the time to practice shooting, setting up stands or blinds, taking the time, spending the money, expending effort into hunting, finally putting a good shot on an animal, tracking, recovering – shouldn’t I just know how to gut an animal? Sorry I guess I could-but I don’t want too!  And if a gal can’t turn to hubby or significant other and ask – Hon?  Then really what’s the world coming to.

On the other hand, John, my husband, doesn’t wear gloves at all when he takes care of the process.  He is elbow deep in the think of it, calmly explaining the process to me as I hold a leg or two. Sometimes I think he is under some delusion that I will pipe up and bellow (imagine hands & elbows waving with urgency) “What are you doing? That’s the best part! Get out of my way!”. But since that blessed day in his life has never happened, he insists upon walking around looking like a Halloween nightmare – complete with blood stained hands and an arm thrown in there for good measure.  So helpful (as I always am) I dreamed up a solution I am deeming the “Gut Bag”.  Its a bag that we will have in each of our vehicles.  I bought a cheap cloth bag with handles for 50 cents. In that bag there is a roll of paper towels, some old fabric towels that we had laying around, plastic bags, hand sanitizer and an extra knife. I presented this to John feeling fairly smart about the whole thing. At which point he replied, it’s blue. And I said so what? We are using it AFTER we shoot the deer, not before. I stated what if you have a nick in your hand, your gutting a deer and wind up with some type of viral or bacterial infection? There was some mumbling at this point which wasn’t clear to me AND I’ve been married long enough to know when to keep my mouth shut. Clearly my bright idea hasn’t went over with the troops on this house. But now I just want to go hunting and get a deer. I’m sure John will be thrilled when I present the Gut Bag with a flourish!

Here it is-the "inside" of my gut bag

Here it is-the “inside” of my gut bag

Tips on how to keep that camo like brand new

Camo clothing is expensive and I don’t see the price going down anytime soon. Hopefully I can provide you with some tips to keep that clothing usable a bit longer.

  • When washing, turn everything inside out.
  • Wash in cold only.
  • Unless your clothes are really dirty, I use the gentle cycle on all my camo.
  • The only product I use to wash my clothes in is baking soda.  I am not saying there aren’t good products that might offer a scent free wash, I just don’t use them.  I usually line the bottom of the washer with baking soda, fill up the washer 1/2 way with clothes, layer with baking soda, load more clothes and top off with baking soda.  Just be sure to break up any lumps before you put the lid down.
  • I have been told that hanging the clothes up to dry also cuts down on the wear and tear but honestly, that isn’t going to happen in my house.  So I usually put the clothes on medium or light heat.  Some dryers might state delicates.  I just don’t use the full high heat.
  • If the clothes are going to be stored for the next season, I make sure they are completely dry then fold them up and place in plastic containers with a locking lid.
  • If I am still using my camo, they are packed up either in a scent free duffle bag or the plastic bin I have designated for that season.
  • I usually have a plastic bin for heavies and winter camo and then a different bin for spring camo.  That might seem redundant but I got tired of yelling who has my wool socks?  Where are my gloves?

While camo clothing is designed to be tough and rugged, it doesn’t do anyone any good if it’s washed out and faded.  Sometimes just a bit more care will help you keep those much needed tools of the hunt a bit longer.

Here’s to hunting Backyards and Big Farms!

www.facebook.com/DoubleJOutdoors

Does a person have to be a jerk to be competitive?

Or is that person just a jerk?  A couple of weeks ago, I was in a ground blind in an area that my husband and I have hunted for 10 years.   After this amount of time, we are very familiar with the area and the areas that the deer usually travel.  Lately, the does have been unusually spooked.  My husband actually asked me a question that I suggest the men out there NOT ask the ladies who hunt.  Here is what he asked-Do you have hair spray on?  Really?  After I glared at him and said Duh No.  Hmm-he says well we sprayed scent away-I just don’t get why they are so spooked.

Keep in mind-this is about 4 pm – and the rut is almost upon us.  So I suggested that maybe a buck was just starting to run the does.  Little did we know, there was a guy walking the property line.  The owner of a vacant house gave permission to a guy to hunt the property.  And this guy decides to start climbing a tree at 4:30 but then decides to get down about an hour later.  And that’s when he shot.

We heard something but couldn’t figure out what it was.  But then we heard a crossbow go off and the doe I had watched walk off came running back up the hill and fall over 20 yards from my blind.  At that point, it was obvious what had happened. We started packing up and wanted to make sure this person had permission to hunt in there.  We walked to the property line and called out-Hey, shes up here-she’s down.  A guy came walking towards us and said oh hey-I think I missed her-I cant find any blood.  What?  No-she’s over here.  She died 20 yards from our blind.  After that, we walked him over and shook hands.  We then discussed PROPERTY LINES and who had permission to hunt where.

Look-at the time, this guy had no idea we were in there.  He spooked the deer but oh well, in a state like MD that happens sometimes.  And while I can’t prove that he shot the deer on property he did not have permission to hunt on, he did suggest he shot over the fence and while the doe was on our property.  So perhaps I was stupidly hoping that after realizing other people were there and exactly where the property lines were he would not hunt from that area.

I was wrong.  Last Friday, at 4:00 pm, six does stand in front of me.  And the largest doe stomps her front leg and stares – where?  In the same direction that guy came from previously.  Scrap-clink-scrap-clink.  For 15 minutes this guy climbs a tree-I can see him from about 150 yards away.  Yes, he is on the property he is allowed to hunt.  Technically.  But the tree he has just climbed up in is on the property line.  And it’s facing the property I am allowed to hunt.  And the wind is blowing in my face. So he is stinking up the area from his stand to my blind.  And his only shot?  Is to my property.  I was seeing red.  I respect hunting and other hunters. I respect competitiveness.  There is just too many outside forces that really want to undermine hunting.  And me going down there screaming like a banshee would not have helped. Or would it?  I am stumped.  I just don’t know what to do.    Any suggestions would be very much appreciated-including a prayer that I don’t see see this guy again.  And my blood pressure would probably benefit from helpful hints as well.

Is this guy just being a good competitive hunter? Or is he just a jerk?

JoAnn

www.facebook.com/DoubleJOutdoors