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….

Can I Shoot Quality Video from My Phone?

Can I shoot video with my cell phone, should I even be shooting video with my phone? Great questions, glad you asked.  Under the right circumstances yes. The camera on your phone is an amazing tool, but it does have limits. The value of a traditional video camera is based on the lens and the sensors that it has.  For example high end cameras might have three, one inch sensors, one dedicated for each of the primary colors, this allows the camera to capture and process images in all conditions. This is not the case in your phone. Your phone has a tiny tiny tiny tiny sensor and as such is limited to situations that have natural light and do not require digital zoom. So as a general rule anything further than 5 to 10 yards is going to require you to use some zoom and this can distort your video. 

One of the things that sets good video apart from bad video is sound quality.  Your cell phone has an internal microphone, which means it will capture every sound it detects.  This is not a good thing when it comes to video. It is often difficult to reduce background noise while editing when it is captured from this type of microphone.  That is why I prefer a wireless microphone, clipped onto the person speaking when we shoot. I am also a fan of The RØDE VideoMic GO and there are a host of adapters that you can buy to make it work with the latest iPhone. There are numerous wireless microphones for cellular devices that can be found by doing a quick internet search. Unless you are inside you will need to be very cautious of the sounds around you while filming. The fan from an HVAC unit or the hum of the refrigerator can ruin a video. You may end up having to record a separate sound track for your voice track. That bird chirping in the background might seem harmless, but it could very well distort the message you are trying to send.

Another way to maximize your cell phone’s video ability is to use a 3 axis gimbal stabilizer. You can take some pretty great photos with your phone, even if you are a little shaky in the hand. However, video is no the same. Stabilization is key.  You can find a host of one handed and two-handed 3 axis gimbal stabilizers on Amazon, and a host of other sites. They run around $200.00 and are worth the investment if you are serious about capturing video with your phone. I prefer the two handed model as they have spaces for a few cold shoes to put a microphone and even a light.  They allow you to not only balance your camera properly, but they allow you to create a host of special effects that you would not normally be able to accomplish by hand. At the very least, use a tripod. Due to your cellphones light weight, an inexpensive one will work just fine to stabilizer your shot. 

When setting up your phone to capture video for social media, set your phone to 4K at 60FPS.  This will allow for a smoother video.  As you become more advanced you will want to set it to 4K at 24FPS. The 24 FPS allows for a more cinematic look and feel to your final product.  The advantages to shooting at 60 FPS is it allows you to slow things down and do some really neat slow motion effects in both live shooting and in post edit. Always shoot in 4K and save it to the cloud.  If your cloud runs out of space spend the 2 bucks month for more space. Don’t be a cheap ass.  Remember when it comes to filming back up is everything, because if you have one copy you have none, and if you have two copies you have one.  I learned this lesson the hard way when my studio burned to the ground and multiple hard drives worth of video that had been captured were lost.  Needless to say lesson learned. 

Another key feature to consider when shooting video with a cell phone is grid feature.  The grid feature will put a tic tac toe board on your screen and allow you to keep your subject in the center of your frame.  If you want to maximize the editing abilities of shooting in 4K then this is a key essential that should not be overlooked.

There are a host of apps that are available to make capturing video easier and more enjoyable.  I like FiLMiC Pro. It works well with all mobile devices. It has a ton features and gives me control of everything from the white balance to even various manual focus controls.  When choosing an app, regardless of the developer pay for the full version. The $10.00 to $20.00 you have to spend will be worth having all the features fully unlocked. Then once you have downloaded the app dedicate some time to your craft and learn all of its features and functions.

When you are filming, keep your focus on filming. Turn your phone to airplane mood to block out annoying distractions and interruptions. You want to be able to keep your focus on composition, framing, storytelling, and everything else that goes into make a great short film. The rules of filmmaking have not changed much in the last 100 years, what has changed is medium by which we are able to capture the footage. 

Good luck and  have fun capturing your next masterpiece. 

Laying the Foundation

When it comes to the outdoors, everything begins with a foundation.  The stronger the foundation, the more enjoyment, and ultimately the more you will reap from your outdoor experience. Whether you are hunting, fishing, camping or participating in an array of shooting sports, you must first understand how to walk before you can fly.  The Life Afowl Basic Shotgun Series is all about building a solid foundation that you can take from the practice field to the water. 

We can wait to share you an array of simple tips that will help make you a better shooter, a better hunter and ultimately get more enjoyment from your outdoor experience. We worked with one of the best young shooters in the country to help being these concepts to life. Sit back, relax and enjoy. 


New Binos From Hawk Optics

Hawke® Optics, a worldwide leader in quality sporting optics that perform outstanding in the field and provide optimum value to the consumer, is proud to announce its new Frontier ED X Binocular. The Frontier ED X Binoculars offer exceptional clarity at a price far lower than a comparable binocular from the competition. With a lifetime warranty, these will be the last pair of binos you’ll ever need.

When you spend a lot of time looking through binoculars, you will notice two things. First, you will come to identify a premium glass by the detail you can see at distance. The next major factor is eye strain. Quality glass causes much less eye strain because your eyes don’t have to work as hard to see that detail. Traditionally, it’s been known that in order to have quality glass that delivers detail and reduced eye strain, it meant spending great amounts of money, often making top-level binoculars unobtainable for many. The new Frontier ED X Binoculars from Hawke Optics put quality within the reach of anyone.

It all begins with the quality and purity of the glass. Hawke starts with Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) glass that provides premium optical clarity. From there, Hawke uses Dielectric Coating that increases the reflectivity of the light coming into the lens. They then fully multi-coat the optics to further sharpen the clarity of the image you see when looking through the binoculars, especially at greater distances. Internally, Hawke Optics uses high-resolution BAK-4 roof prisms that are phase corrected. The result is a binocular that has exceptional clarity and reduced eye strain.

Clear glass in a binocular is meaningless, however, without crisp focus. The Frontier ED X Binoculars have Hawke’s 1.5-turn Focus Knob with a 6.6-foot close focus. This, when paired with the 426 feet field of view at 1,000 yards in the 8X42, or 336 feet at 1,000 yards in the 10X42, means you will have exceptional clarity and precise focus adjustment at any range.

You would expect a binocular named the Frontier to be tough, and the Hawke Binoculars are just that. With a lightweight magnesium alloy frame that is rubber coated for grip in wet conditions, these binoculars will handle even the most trying conditions. A water-repellant coating on the objective lens and full nitrogen purging that keeps water and fog out of the internals will keep you in the clear. Twist-up eye cups and stay-on lens covers are convenient and add durability.

The Frontier ED X Binoculars are available in an 8X42 and a 10X 42 model, each available with a green or grey frame. They each include a carry case, neck strap, harness adaptors, lens cloth, lens covers and Hawke Optics’ Lifetime Warranty. The 8X42 has an MSRP of just $389.00 and the 10X42 has an MSRP of $399.00.

About Hawke

#VISIONACCOMPLISHED. Hawke is a worldwide market leader at the forefront of optical performance with class-leading innovation and design offering a complete line of sport optics from rifle, crossbow, shotgun and air gun scopes to binoculars, spotting scopes and accessories. Accuracy, strength and precision; Hawke optics blend iconic design, exceptional engineering and unrivalled craftsmanship to create an unforgettable viewing experience. As awareness of Hawke Sport Optics continues to grow, more customers are trusting Hawke as the unquestioned industry leader in optics.  Learn more at www.hawkeoptics.com.