Tales from a Treestand

I’ve been looking forward to this weekend for two weeks. I missed muzzleloader season last weekend because the husband was out of town. The weather isn’t perfect, it’s cool, windy and misting rains. But I can’t kill deer from the house, couch or the comfort of my bed.

Last night’s Halloween party kept me up later than I needed to be. I set my alarm for 4 pm rather than am. Woke up in a mad rush to gather my things, my thoughts and my coffee. I knew I’d get to the farm at daybreak so I planned to stalk in quietly. To my surprise, I was greeted by two random dogs who reeked of skunk. I thought for sure they would escort me to my stand.

Excuse me, there are deer here.

Two does exit stage left…

As I was saying, I had to run dogs off. The hike in was super quiet. Rain saturated ground creates a double edged sword. It makes moving quiet but climbing mountains slick! We all know I fall a lot so that was fun.

Within eyesight of my stand, the dreaded doe blow breaks the silence. I freeze, glass and see white tails everywhere. 🤬 wait them out a few, another step, another blow. Daggon it. So I just sit down. Spray some Nose Jammer on and check the wind…they definitely saw me cause the wind is great! As the blows end, I gather my things and trudge on in the final 100 yards to my stand.

For a moment, I just stare at this Summit climber I’ve become so familiar with, then up to my mark on the tree at 25 ft. Ugh. This is gonna suck. Tie all my gear together with mule tape and begin my ascent. Once settled, I was sure I would see nothing so I started this blog. Then came the does.

Obviously, by their posture and timid approach, these were the two I bumped coming in. They overcame their fears pretty quick when they got nose deep in Rackology. I watched them. I contemplated shots, but I waited, They walked away, and that’s okay. I need those girls when rut kicks in…😂😂😂

Winds picked up. No movement here in the 100 acre woods. My belly says, “lunch”. My feeder says, “corn”. And my morning coffee says, “Please go pee!!” So, down I go for food, corn and a bathroom break.

Returning with 50 lbs of corn, my bow and all my gear, I begin the .80 mile hike straight uphill. At the first plateau, I’m certain I will die before I get to my stand. When I make it to the top of the first ridge, I nearly collapse with fatigue. My hamstrings are on fire and my already injured shoulder is screaming angrily. I take a minute, lay down on the cold, wet, leaf covered ground and listen to my heart pound. Looking up, I see the canopy of foliage that is the epitome of KY beauty, take a big deep breath and tell myself (outloud), “ Get up, you’re almost there.”

Pushing forward, arriving at my set, pour out the corn, tie gear on to rope, stand and stare at the climbing stand, dreading the torture that is about to ensue. My legs still burning, my shoulders and back quivering in distress, my mind tells me, “There’s no way you’ll make it.”, but my heart says, “Girl, you better get up that tree!”

The evening hunt was uneventful. No deer. Swampcat squirrels, constant rain, hurricane equivalent winds, and neighbors sighting in rifles or having WW3? As the light disappeared, again I shimmied down this ole oak and began my trek out. I left the stand with tags left to fill. My body was beyond exhausted. My clothes were wet and my boots were muddy. But my heart, my heart was happy.

You see, I’m no “professional” hunter. I don’t have land managers, or thousands of acres planted with soybeans. Hunting doesn’t pay my bills and probably never will. The reward for me comes from thinking I will surely die packing corn into the mountains, and pouring it out on the ground a few minutes later. It’s standing at the base of a tree thinking my body can’t make it and clipping into my safety line and doing it anyway. It’s pushing my self to the limit…and then pushing a little further once I get there. And someday, if that big ole Booner buck cruises by, I’ll be ready.

Using Common Sense When Off the Ground

Have you ever wondered why some people jump out of perfectly good air planes, or why others drive dragsters over 200 miles an hour and not worry?  The answer is simple: they have on safety equipment that protects them when something goes wrong. 

There are guys who will spend well over two thousand dollars for a bow, a set of arrows, countless accessories, a tree stand and scent proof clothing, but yet are too cheap to buy a quality safety harness.  I just do not understand this thought process.  For many, this line of thinking results in severe injury or death.  

Every year, we read in the papers or in magazines about guys and gals who fall out of tree stands and are severely hurt or die, and for what?  Because they are too cheap or too lazy to wear a full body safety arrest system.  For me, the best $200.00 I could spend on hunting equipment is on a harness and a life line climbing line.  One of the best companies out there is Hunter Safety System.  All they do is make harnesses and harness accessories.  This company is dedicated to bringing you back home at the end of the hunt.  It is so simple: buckle the harness on, (which takes ten seconds) and then clip the harness in the safety carabineer before you step on the ladder to climb up the tree.  It is just that simple.  Now I have no worries.  If I slip off the ladder, not a problem, I will hang comfortably in the air until I can reach the ladder and regain my balance, or wait until one of hunting party comes along to help me down.  

There are just too many things that can go wrong when you are 20 feet in the air.  One of the most common ways in which people fall out of tree stands is that they simply fall asleep.  The early hours of the hunt, the cool breeze, the gentle rocking of the tree, put many hunters right to sleep. Many do not ever wake up again, and those that do often wake up in intensive care and suffer from severe paralysis the rest of their lives. The second most common area where hunters fall is while they are climbing up and down their ladders or climbing sticks.  Others fall out of their tree stand as they are preparing to shoot. They lose their balance or step where there is nothing but air.  

These are senseless injuries that could all have been prevented by simply wearing a full body fall arrest system.  Would you get in your car and not wear a seat belt? If so, you are gambling with your life. 

If you are going to hunt by yourself, let someone know where you are going, and when they should expect you back. Also, before you ever head into the woods, remember you have to purchase more than a bow and a license.  There are pieces of safety equipment out there specifically designed to get you into the woods and back again safely.  Please considerer all the cost associated with hunting, not just the cost of basic equipment.  

With all of today’s modern techno gadgets for hunters, there are simply no excuses for dying in the field.  Years ago we would hear tales of hunters who would die in the mountains because they would get lost and become so disoriented that they could not find their way out of the forest.  

Now, thanks to hand-held global positioning systems (many that cost less than a set of good arrows), there are fewer and fewer of these types of stories being told in deer camp.  Online, you can find free mapping programs that can give you a complete lay of the land before you ever leave your house.  There is even a spot beacon locator that allows you to communicate to friends and family that you are ok.  Heck, if you want to, you can even purchase a personal EPIRB to take with you into the woods.  There is just no excuse for getting lost.  

 

As a point of emphasis, I am including the Tree Stand Safety Guidelines from the Tree Stand Manufactures Association, despite some redundancy: 

 

ALWAYS wear a Fall-Arrest System (FAS)/Full Body Harness meeting TMA Standards even during ascent and descent. Be aware that single strap belts and chest harnesses are no longer allowed Fall-Arrest devices and should not be used. Failure to use a FAS could result in serious injury or death.

 

ALWAYS read and understand the manufacturer’s WARNINGS & INSTRUCTIONS before using the treestand each season. Practice with the tree stand at ground level prior to using at elevated positions. Maintain the WARNINGS & INSTRUCTIONS for later review as needed, for instructions on usage to anyone borrowing your stand, or to pass on when selling the tree stand. Use all safety devices provided with your tree stand.

 

NEVER exceed the weight limit specified by the manufacturer. If you have any questions after reviewing the WARNINGS & INSTRUCTIONS, please contact the manufacturer. 

 

ALWAYS inspect the tree stand and the Fall-Arrest System for signs of wear or damage before each use. Contact the manufacturer for replacement parts. Destroy all products that cannot be repaired by the manufacturer and/or exceed recommended expiration date, or if the manufacturer no longer exists. The FAS should be discarded and replaced after a fall has occurred.

 

ALWAYS practice in your Full Body Harness in the presence of a responsible adult prior to using it in an elevated hunting environment, learning what it feels like to hang suspended in it at ground level and how to properly use your suspension relief device.

 

ALWAYS attach your Full Body Harness in the manner and method described by the manufacturer. Failure to do so may result in suspension without the ability to recover into your tree stand. Be aware of the hazards associated with Full Body Harnesses and the fact that prolonged suspension in a harness may be fatal. Have in place a plan for rescue, including the use of cell phones or signal devices that may be easily reached and used while suspended. If rescue personnel cannot be notified, you must have a plan for recover/escape. If you have to hang suspended for a period of time before help arrives, exercise your legs by pushing against the tree or doing any other form of continuous motion or use your suspension relief device. Failure to recover in a timely manner could result in serious injury or death. If you do not have the ability to recover/escape, hunt from the ground.

 

ALWAYS hunt with a plan, and if possible, with a buddy. Before you leave home, let others know your exact hunting location, when you plan to return and who is with you.

 

ALWAYS carry emergency signal devices such as a cell phone, walkie-talkie, whistle, signal flare, PLD (personal locator device) and flashlight on your person at all times,and within reach, even while you are suspended in your FAS. Watch for changing weather conditions. In the event of an accident, remain calm and seek help immediately.

 

ALWAYS select the proper tree for use with your treestand. Select a live straight tree that fits within the size limits recommended in your tree stand’s instructions. Do not climb or place a tree stand against a leaning tree. Never leave a tree stand installed for more than two weeks since damage could result from changing weather conditions and/or from other factors not obvious with a visual inspection.

 

ALWAYS use a haul line to pull up your gear and unloaded firearm or bow to your tree stand once you have reached your desired hunting height. Never climb with anything in your hands or on your back. Prior to descending, lower your equipment on the opposite side of the tree.

 

ALWAYS know your physical limitations. Don’t take chances. Do not climb when using drugs, alcohol, or if you’re sick or unrested. If you start thinking about how high you are, don’t go any higher.

 

NEVER use homemade, or permanently elevated stands,nor make modifications to a purchased tree stand without the manufacturer’s written permission. Only purchase and use tree stands, and Fall-Arrest Systems meeting or exceeding TMA standards. 

NEVER hurry!! While climbing with a tree stand, make slow, even movements of no more than ten to twelve inches at a time. Make sure you have proper contact with the tree and/or tree stand every time you move. On ladder-type tree stands, maintain three points of contact with each step.

Copyright © 2009 by TMA

 

It’s like Christmas…but different

A short video of the night before archery season opener. Ticks (aka turkey mites) are especially bad this year. I pretreated my gear with permethrin spray and allowed it to dry before placing it in my Scent Crusher bag. Opening morning began with Dead End game calls scent free women’s line, which offers body wash, shampoo, CONDITIONER AND LOTION!! Scent Crusher OZone Go ran in the truck while I sipped my coffee and drove to my lease. My new Hunter Safety System Women’s Contour Vest kept my safe as I used a Summit Climbing stand for the first time in years!!! Opening morning takes me back to excitement a child feels at Christmas every year. It’s a time when all our hard work comes full circle. Our primal instincts are fulfilled. And the Hunter climbs back into their happy place….

Hurry up and Wait

Back in the treestand tonight. Day 2 of archery season has been hotter than day 1. I’m here more for the experience than the harvest tonight. Another climbing stand experience in the books. The verdict is, I don’t love it. Given my current situation, it was the only option so I will use it for now and it is better than roasting in a blind.

I put out a camera yesterday. Grabbed the SD card on my way in. Popped it in my card viewer once I got in the stand. 1 doe. At 2:30 am. Why am I sweating all over myself for a doe that I’m definitely not gonna shoot in this heat? I could be at home, curled up on the couch in a blanket watching pointless television. I could be working on domestic duties or that lawn work that is waiting for me. Or I could sit right here, 20 feet off the ground, and wait for some big ole whitetail monster to step out for me. And I am already here, so….

The wind is carrying in the evening. Grey, cloudy skies have been replaced with blues and whites carefully hand painted by someone far more talented than I am. Down the road, a man is using a chainsaw….

Insert treestand nap here.

Stupid lil honey bee interrupted a perfectly good “I got here early enough” nap. As important as bees are, I contemplated murdering him.

The wind is shifting now meaning evening is steadily moving in. The air is cooling , which means just a touch below what hell feels like. I’d hoped some rain would cool the evening and provoke deer movement. So far…just squirrels, honeybees and chainsaw massacre happening down the road.

I seriously love deer hunting. Compared to some, nope. I’m not comparing myself. I don’t have the same means as others. But by golly, I’ve got the passion. The heart. The primal drive that pushes me to do the things some folks think is crazy…and I just can’t get enough.

Opening Morning

Sitting here in my tree stand this morning. It’s a hot one already. But my heart has been begging for this day since the last season ended. Gentle rain kisses the trees. In the distance, two whippoorwills are singing. The fog is rising and I can feel it’s coolness both on my skin and in my breaths. The wind is moving the clouds of night swiftly from the sky. In their place, a watercolor pallet of the sweetest colors takes light. My senses are beginning to heighten. Every sound intensifying my heart rate, and increasing my breathing. It’s only 6:30 am! I feel alive in these moments. The harvest is an afterthought at this point. And while the ultimate goal may be to lay down a KY velvet buck…I am just living in this moment until then….

The sun begins to rise over the far ridge, it’s warming rays reaching my face. It’s now 9:18 am. A bit ago, a grey squirrel joined me in my tree along with a woodpecker. My enthusiasm is dwindling as morning fades into day. My company now is a red tail hawk, soaring from tree to tree, causing a racket. Early mornings rain is falling with the wind. Predicted temperatures are swiftly approaching. Part of me knows that the chances of harvesting a buck today are slim, but the other part of me is just here, living my best life, loving every second I get in these deer woods.

Folks, we never know what tomorrow holds. It could be the end of our road or the beginning of a new journey. I encourage you to test your boundaries. Set goals and crush them. Surround yourself with like minded people who support you and love you. And get outside.

The Fortified Female

Being the voice of women for ChasinWhitetails.com, it was my job to name the women’s section.  This proved to be quiet a task.  You see, it’s not easy to title what I envision for women.  Sometimes the words just don’t accurately convey my thoughts.  Some titles are limiting and excluding, leaving some groups of women feeling unworthy of following.  Some are cute and hip but kinda make me wanna throw up in my mouth.  Some are down right degrading.

In my search for the perfect title, I found “fortified”.

fortified; fortifying

: to make strong: such as
a : to strengthen and secure (a place, such as a town) by forts or batteries
  • a city fortified by high walls
b : to give physical strength, courage, or endurance to
  • fortified by a hearty meal
c : to add mental or moral strength to : encourage
  • fortified by prayer
  • fortified by early successes

By definition, this word is everything I see for women, not only in the outdoor industry but in life.  Being an outdoorswoman is only a part of my life.  What about momming? Y’all ain’t never hunted until your kid can’t find their favorite blankie at bedtime!  The challenges of balancing all the roles I hold in this life are real.  Wife. Mom. Cardiac Sonographer. Outdoorsman.  Writer. Marketing Director and Chapter Leader of Wildife Women.  NASP coach.  Sister. Aunt. Friend.  All these titles, and I think I’m falling short.  Then my son looks at me, after watching me hike 1/2 mile uphill with a 50 lb bag of corn on my back and a backpack full of gear and says, “I didn’t think you could do that.”

Fortified……yeah, that’s the word.  Welcome to my journey as The Fortified Female

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Summer Delight

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Summer is jam packed with spontaneous cook outs.  I never plan ahead and always need something quick to throw together and get out the door! This is always a crowd pleaser.

Start with prepared Angel Food Cake cut into 2″ squares.  Layer in bowl.  Add a layer of your berries of choice and top with Cool Whip. Repeat until bowl is full. End with Cool Whip on top and use extra berries to decorate!

 

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