Specters and spirits. Ghouls and ghosts. These imaginary beings are what make Halloween so fun. But it’s the real creatures of the night—spiders, bats and other creepy crawlies—that send shivers down the spines of some outdoorsmen and women. With the spooky holiday just around the corner, we thought it’d be amusing to ask some of our pro staffers what makes them quiver in their boots when it comes time to head outdoors. They didn’t hesitate to tell us about their fears—both real and imaginary.
We’d like to hear from you, as well. Are you brave enough to list your fears in the comments section below?
Tyler Jordan – Solitude, Demons, and Unidentifiable Shrieks
Although Tyler Jordan, the son of Realtree founder Bill Jordan, hunts with a cameraman most of the time, he sometimes hunts alone. And it was during one of those solo hunts that he experienced a big scare that left a lasting impression on him.
“For me, the solitude is what makes hunting so appealing,” Jordan said. “But sometimes hunting alone can be a little freaky, especially when you are a long way from anybody else. I think most of us hunters have a spooky or scary story that involves hunting alone.”
When Jordan was a kid, his dad dropped him off on their farm at a new stand no one had hunted. It was one of the first times he’d sat in a stand by himself.
“At first, I wasn’t scared to be alone,” Jordan said. “Suddenly, after 30 to 40 minutes of sitting, the calmness of the woods was interrupted by a hair-raising shriek that I had never heard before. It lasted for four to five minutes. Then came another shriek that was as unpleasant as the first. My heart shrank and every hair on my body did its best imitation of a toothpick. I gripped my bow so hard while simultaneously wanting to shrink into my stand.”
Jordan said when he heard the shrieks, hunting deer became the last thing on his mind. He called his dad to come and get him, but stayed in his tree until he arrived.
“Sure, I had a bow, but the problem is, bows don’t kill demons!”
Jordan said even though his dad was only hunting 200 to 300 yards away, he hadn’t heard the screeches, which made the experience seem even more eerie.
“When he came to pick me up, Dad laughed and suggested that the sound was possibly a rabbit being killed by a predator,” Jordan said. “All I know for sure is that no way could he ever convince me to go back to that stand. I still get goose bumps when thinking about or telling the story to someone and remembering that shriek. I could never nail down exactly where the sound was coming from, but it sounded close. “
Nate Hosie – Sneaky, Aggressive Squirrels
Nate Hosie, host of HeadHunters TV on the Outdoor Channel, says he knows he’s in limited company when it comes to his fear of squirrels, but he says his fear only extends to those that claim the tree he’s sitting in as their “own personal dojo.”
“It starts with an intense stare-down between me and the squirrel, which is usually barking at me,” Hosie said. “Inevitably, the squirrel moves behind the tree trunk to where I can’t see it. I’m hunting, so I need to remain as motionless as possible, but I really want to keep an eye on that squirrel. I can’t help but wonder what it’s doing behind the tree and what it intends to do. I end up nervous and irritated just waiting for that squirrel’s next move, which I’m pretty sure involves a surprise attack. I sit there imagining how Ronda Rousey would defend herself against a vicious squirrel assault and wonder if I will have what it takes when the moment of truth arrives."
Jeff Danker – Snakes and Tight Spaces
Like many people, Jeff Danker, host of Major League Bowhunter on the Sportsman Channel, is afraid of snakes. And, Danker’s fear is not irrational. If you spend a lot of time in the outdoors, you’re going to occasionally encounter a snake, and sometimes that snake could be venomous. But Danker said it’s not so much a venomous bite that scares him; he’s actually more afraid of a surprise encounter with a snake—any snake.
“I think I'm more afraid of the actual scare,” Danker said. “Honestly, I would rather wrestle a bear than step on a snake!”
Danker said he’s also extremely claustrophobic, which is a phobia shared by many.
“Tight covers tucked in on a bed freak me out,” Danker said. “Sleeping bags? No! My feet freak out. But stick me out in the wilderness in the pitch black, and I'm fine. Get two or three guys to hold me down so I can't move, and you will hear lots of girl noises come out of my mouth!”
Travis “T-Bone” Turner – Quail, Spider Webs, and Falling from a Treestand
Travis “T-Bone” Turner has a bit of an unusual fear when it comes to walking to his hunting setup in the dark. But, that fear is born from his personal experience.
“I’m not scared of the dark, per se,” Turner said. “But, I am afraid of the feathered friends I may encounter in the darkness. I hunt a lot in Georgia, and occasionally I’ll flush a covey of quail as I’m walking through CRP to my stand. Of course, I’m not afraid of the actual quail, but the startling noise and commotion in the darkness is enough to make poop run down both of my legs. Even when I prepare myself and tell myself not to be scared, I still freak out if I flush some quail. Those who have had that experience understand where I’m coming from.”
Since it’s Halloween, Turner said he might as well mention spiders. He said he’s not scared of spiders as much as he is running into the spider webs in the dark on the way to the stand.
“Spider webs cover the trails this time of the year, and when you run into one, and it covers your face, and then you feel that thump, it just makes you quiver. You don’t know if that thump was the spider or what the spider is eating. It’s the scare that keeps scaring. It never fails. Once you get over it, you’re sitting in your stand a couple of hours later, then all of the sudden the spider that hitched a ride on you spins a web and drops down in front of you, just inches from your face.”
On a serious note, Turner said he’s also very much afraid of falling from his treestand, which is a legitimate and reasonable fear as hunters are injured or killed by falls from their stands each season.
“I’m a big guy, so climbing into a stand is a little more challenging for me than for most,” Turner said. “I get especially nervous when the steps are wet or icy. And I really don’t like hunting from a stand that I didn’t personally hang. I’m OCD about hanging my stands, but I know many people aren’t, which makes climbing into a stand I didn’t hang nerve wracking for me.”
Tiffany Lakosky – Scary Men and Getting Lost
Tiffany Lakosky, co-host of the Crush With Lee & Tiffany on the Outdoor Channel, said her biggest fear is that someone is going to get her during her trek to the stand. That fear comes from a frightening encounter she and her husband Lee Lakosky experienced several years ago.
“A few years ago, we leased some land from a guy who also occasionally hunted the property, but we never saw him,” Lakosky said. “One morning Lee and I were walking to our stand super early; it was pitch black out and the stars were shining brightly. As we were walking, I got this eerie feeling that we weren’t alone. We took a few more steps, and just as I stopped to tell Lee I felt like something was wrong, he and the other guy ran into each other, and both of them freaked out.”
Even though the man posed no danger, that chance meeting has made Lakosky more aware of the possibilities of encountering a dangerous stranger in the woods.
“So now, whenever I'm walking to the stand super early like that, I swear someone is going to get me,” she said. “Thank goodness I'm normally not alone, or I’d really have problems.”
Lakosky says her husband also doesn’t want her walking to her stand alone but for a different reason.
“I have a horrible sense of direction,” she said. “I get lost easily. Lee’s afraid if I walk to my stand alone that I may end up in Missouri...and he may never see me again.”
So there you have it. Some of the most rugged outdoorsmen and women we know have no qualms when it comes to admitting their fears. So, what about you? What are you afraid of?