I am headed to the Great American Outdoor Show!

I can’t think of a better way to start my week then to ditch the office, get in the truck and head off to talk hunting, guns and archery.  Hopefully by the end of the day I will have lots to report back on along with a sore back and an aching feet.  On the other hand, every time I’ve went to this show I have met some really nice people.  If you are there, look me up- stop and say hi!  I’ll be the one in the black Ladies In Camo shirt pulling a cColor-JoAnn-w-2015 deeramo wheeled backpack with one squeaky wheel!

VTX Bowstrings from VaporTrail

VP Header

A few weeks ago, I wrapped up a product review on VaporTrail VTX bowstrings.  I also spoke about their bowstring customizer.  If you did not get a chance to read the review, here is a link: VTX bowstring review.

VaporTrail provides great service backed up by some knowledgeable people.  You can find out about all of their products at:www.vaportrailarchery.com/ 


I am a Staff Writer for Ladies In Camo, an organization that provides articles, review and hunt packages for women.  Please visit the Ladies In Camo website at www.ladiesincamo.com.

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!

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!

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.

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!


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?




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

Visit our facebook page: www.facebook.com/DoubleJOutdoors


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 www.facebook.com/DoubleJOutdoors for hunting videos and product reviews.


What is your dominant eye? And why should that matter?

For many years, I really, really wanted to shoot 3d archery and hunt. My husband hunted ALOT and in the”off-season”, whatever that is, he shot 3d archery tournaments. So this would be a great way to share memories with my husband and our family. But every time, I picked up a gun, a bow or a crossbow it felt wrong. Really wrong. I chalked it up to my inexperience but it was more than that. I was completely hunched over whatever weapon I was using, strangling it. Ever seen one of those animals shows where everybody piles on top the alligator? That’s what I looked holding a gun-like I had to wrestle it into obedience.

So my husband John would try to get my out there practicing, practicing, practicing. And every time I shot, I flinched, punched the trigger, overextended my arm. Oh and the always popular one-Banging my head on the stock of the gun because I forgot what eye to look through-no I wish I was joking about that. I was really, really discouraged. And it doesn’t help that John has won the IBO National Triple Crown, the IBO Southern Triple crown and then to top it off he won the IBO World Championship. So every piece of advice he gave I trusted in and I still wasn’t getting it. I was resigned to the fact that if he couldn’t teach me, I was doomed.

So fast forward to a couple of years ago. There’s John, the shooting table and a crossbow ready for me to shoot. I guess he wasn’t prepared to give up on me. Ugg – those bad fluttery stomach issues flaired up just thinking about it.  And unfortunately the same problem happened. He would tell me just get ready, don’t hold your breath, don’t hunch over the table like that, look through the scope, what do you see? Why are you hunched over the crossbow like that? Blah, blah, blah. I saw nothing or wait-there was a possible sighting of a sliver of the target. What was wrong with me? I got so frustrated I yelled at John, “I CAN’T DO THIS ANYMORE!” and marched off in a huff. John yelled FINE-DONT YELL AT ME! I actually went in the house, took a shower, got in my pajamas and stumped back down the stairs. Oh I showed him alright.

John yelled at me to come back outside-yes the neighbors are loving this. Why? I said-I’m done-I cant do it-I don’t know why. John urged me to try one last thing. Translation-just get out here (spoken through the glass back door). I walked outside and the shooting chair was turned in a different direction. I realized he wanted me to shoot left handed. What?! I can’t do this right handed and I”M RIGHT HANDED. After a few choice words were spoken, I sat down, put the butt of the stock against my shoulder (none too gently) and put my eye down.

What was this? I could see! This felt right! This felt great! Angels started to sing and the heavens shown a single ray of light on my uplifted face. Okay a little drama there but you get the idea. This was a single turning point for me and I haven’t even shot. I quickly looked up to see John smiling-Good now? Yes! Let me shoot!

So why is it that shooting left handed feels so right to me? Not just a crossbow or a gun but my compound bow as well. I hadn’t determined which eye was my dominate eye.  Maybe it’s more to it than that, but I don’t think so. To be quite honest I had thought about it but since I wear contact lenses to correct my vision I didn’t think it mattered.

So if your bow or gun just doesn’t feel right, if you have a problem seeing through the peep or the sight, please check to see which eye is your dominant eye. It made all the difference in the world to me.

How to determine your dominant eye:

  • Look around your house for an object like a door knob or a knick knack on your table. Even a small icon on your computer screen will work.
  • Hold both your arms up and out in front of you holding your hands out.
  • Take one of your hands and place it on top of the other one. Make a small triangle or circle with the space in between your thumb and index finger.
  • Look at the object you picked out through the small opening between your hands. Make sure you look at the object between your hands-no your hands themselves.

Now close one of your eyes. Do you see the object?
If you see the object with your left eye, you are left eye dominant.
If you see the object with your left eye, you are right eye dominant.

Good luck hunting those Backyards and Big farms!