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!
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!

Hey Maryland hunters!

It’s a month away from turkey season.  Have you been practicing your calling?


JoAnn's 2014 Tom

JoAnn’s 2014 Tom

This is my Tom from a year ago. Not my biggest bird but he was a big bully and had to go!  I will be writing my story about this bird in a later post. Photo credit: John Herbert

This is my Tom from a year ago. Not my biggest bird but he was a big bully and had to go! I will be writing my story about this bird in a later post.
Photo credit: John Herbert

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:




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!

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!

Let’s talk about Crossbows

Over the years, I have heard many arguments about the use of crossbows.  But if you talk to any archery store owner, they will tell you that they can’t keep crossbows on the shelves.  So clearly someone out there likes crossbows!

I live in the state of Maryland, where for many years crossbow use was limited to hunters who demonstrated some type of disability and could not pull back a vertical bow.  Now the restrictions have been lifted and sales are soaring.  I love our crossbow.  And I say OUR crossbow because everyone in the family can use it.  My husband and I both shoot compound bows as well as the crossbow. We all have practiced shooting and we have all shot deer with the crossbow.  It didn’t involve separate bows for each family member.  So a real cost saver there.  My daughter does not (yet) shoot a compound bow.  So until she feels more confident and comfortable using a compound bow-a crossbow it is.

But here is where I think the hunting community should be embracing crossbow use.   A hunter can take a family member, a neighbor, a co-worker and with some supervision and guidance have them in the woods hunting with a crossbow in no time.  The opportunities to bring more people into the sport is limitless with a crossbow.  Some people are not comfortable shooting a gun.  Alot of women I know look at my Bowtech Assassin and state-I can’t shoot that! Or how do you pull that back?  From all of us that shoot bows we know it takes practice, practice, practice.  And I myself had fears for many years about shooting a bow.  Yes-years-and I’m married to a bow hunter!  A crossbow can bridge that gap between not hunting at all and becoming a hunter.

A crossbow doesn’t eliminate the need to know proper shot placement, which animal should be shot, which animal you might want to leave for next year, and of course safety concerns.  But it does open the door-it’s an icebreaker to a person who might be intimidated by hunting.  And the more people that we get to walk through that door-the more understanding about what good the hunting industry does for nature and the economy.

Thanks for your time – and have a great season!

My two cents on Sunday hunting

Most states do allow hunting on Sundays.  I happen to live in Maryland-one of those few states (11? states)  that did not allow Sunday hunting until recently.  And even now, MD only grants permission to Sunday hunt on a limited number of days.  So what’s my take?  Well, most people are going to say my opinion would be obvious-I hunt therefore I would support Sunday hunting.  And you would not be wrong in stating that.  However I am certainly not adverse to being reasonable and looking at the reasons why Sunday hunting would not be allowed.

Faith based concerns: Think blue-laws: For alot of people, Sunday is a day of reflection, a day of rest, fellowship, worship, etc. I get it-I respect that.  But why should that influence state law?  If I decide to head to the woods and not to my church, shouldn’t that be a decision between me and my maker? Why is this decided by the stuffed shirts in Annapolis-the capitol of the state I live in?  And why can’t I hunt after worship? Or why can’t I at least hunt on my own land?  And why are hunting activities addressed and not sporting activities-like the NFL?  It’s okay to tailgate, drink and watch a football game on a Sunday but I can’t go into the woods and hunt?  Some hunters would agree that nothing makes you feel closer to God than a quiet day in the woods.

Non-hunter concerns: Okay we could spend ALOT of time on this one but I am going to keep it simple.  In my research I have read that people are concerned about bullets whizzing past their heads or sighting deer carcasses as they go out to enjoy a bike or horse ride through their park on a Sunday afternoon.  And I have read about people who do not feel comfortable walking on a trail through a park only to hear a gun shot. Hey-I don’t think I would feel comfortable about that either and I hunt!  That being said, I have been in the woods quite a bit and have yet to see deer carcasses strewn about.  And I have enjoyed our state parks for kayaking/hiking and haven’t seen deer carcasses.  I have also walked through these parks and have yet to hear guns going off around me. Maybe in my back field over here on the shore of MD, yeah.  But let’s take a minute to address the bullets and noise issue.  My take-if this is a state park or publicly owned land all people should be able to enjoy the area, for hunting and non-hunting activity in relative peace and quiet.  So I have no problem stating that hunting is restricted to a certain number of days and/or a certain animal during the week.  But again-this type of restriction should only be limited to public areas for all to enjoy.  Not for privately owned land. If someone decides to take a stroll on a day that hunters are allowed to be on public land and they hear a gun shot, that’s their problem.  Come back on a day designated for non-hunting activities.

Farmer’s Concerns:  This was a shocker to me.  I really thought farmers would support hunting 7 days a week and maybe most do.  Apparently, again from what I have read, a majority of farmers do not want hunters on their land on Sundays and would prefer that to be a day of peace and quiet.  Well-okay.  I can see that.  But here is what puzzles me.  Everywhere my husband and I hunt we have to get written permission.  Wouldn’t the farmer know who has permission to be on their land?  If someone is on their land hunting and does not have permission that’s poaching-no matter what day it is.  So how is restricting, by law,days on which hunting is allowed going to address a poaching issue? When granting written permission to the hunter, couldn’t the farmer just make it known that hunting would only be allowed on certain days?  After all-it’s the farmers land.  He doesn’t have to give permission.  Why do we need the state of MD to get involved.

Monetary issues: Much to the chagrin of non-hunters, alot of money is generated by the hunting community.  I am sure there are a ton of outfitters in the state of MD that would love to get their customers in the woods for the whole weekend.  And ask hunters coming into MD from surrounding states about a whole weekend of sika hunting.  Someone who is coming from VA or DE and want to drive a couple of hours to do some sika hunting would jump at the opportunity to hunt the whole weekend and then drive back home.

So please – if you should live in one of the states that ban or restrict Sunday hunting – make sure your representatives know where you stand on the issue.  You can be sure that those who wish to limit hunting activities will be doing their best to curtail any expansion of our hunting rights.  That’s my take.

Wishing everyone a great season!  Jo Ann

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Some safety tips to consider this season

1 – Use a safety harness.  I know that with each year it’s like we are dragging more and more items into the woods.  But don’t skip the harness.  Don’t think that you can’t fall out of a tree stand and don’t think the stand won’t break.  And no matter how much badonkadonk you got going on back there it won’t help you bounce up from that.

2 – Use a fall restraint or tether system.  Don’t leave the ground without first clipping on.  I know people that always use a harness however the whole way up and the whole way down they aren’t protected.  Again, you can slip, fall, or a piece of the stand can break.

3 – Practice putting on the safety harness and climbing using the tether system.  Don’t wait until the morning of the hunt while you are standing in the dark working up a sweat trying to figure out what leg to put where.  Practice putting on the harness in your living room or if you’re lucky enough set up a stand in your yard using a tether system.

4 – Inspect all tree stands and accessories for wear and tear.  If anything is in doubt, get rid of it.  I know its like throwing away money but it’s alot cheaper than a trip to the emergency room.

5 – Do not alter any safety harness.  Yes there is a reason that those straps go around your legs.  Don’t cut off those leg straps thinking it will just make things easier.  Easier to possibly get strangled by your harness is more like it.

6 – If you are using a fixed position stand, add new ratchet straps every year.  Don’t think about it-just add new straps.

7 – Make sure other people know where you are going and approximately what time you will be getting out of your stand.  Maybe arrange to call in or text someone at a certain time.  And no – the green house on the farm down the road isn’t an address.  Make sure that people know the actual location where you are so if emergency help has to be called they can get to you as soon as possible.

I’m sure that there are many, many other safety tips out there, so please feel free to comment.  It never hurts to have too much information when it comes to safety.

I wish all of you a great season!

Visit John and JoAnn Herbert at for hunting videos and product reviews.