My first portable tree stand was a summit climber that I had begged for for Christmas during my 8th grade year. Right after I started bowhunting, I quickly realized that I needed to be mobile if I was going to be successful, and I thought that having one climbing stand would be a more economical approach than purchasing a multitude of hang on stands in order to provide a number of preset stand locations around the property I was hunting. Like any teenager, I was balancing my passion with an incredibly limited budget. I soon realized that although the attachment system for my climber was quick, easy, and relatively quiet, it was still almost impossible to pack the stand in and out of the woods without making a clank or two that would make you hold your breath and cringe while you expected the woods to explode with fleeing deer. At that time, Summit had introduced Summit Skin, similar to the popular Stealth Strips. I have to be honest, I really wanted to cover my stand in Summit Skin but I really didn’t want to pay for them. It seemed to me like this noise dampening system was pretty salty, for what it was, and I had other items that I needed to purchase in order to keep killing deer, and those took priority. After all, I was still putting deer on the ground out of a portable stand without Summit Skin on it, so why spend the money on a perhaps overpriced accessory?
I’ve since gravitated to a different kind of mobility as an archer and a different kind of portable stand as climbers became too limiting in the pieces of timber I wanted to hunt. And, while they are a simple way to set up in a tree, I found them to be cumbersome to carry into the woods, and ultimately a noisier way to climb up the side of a tree near a bedding area. So, once I purchased a lightweight hang-on stand I now needed to pack in climbing sticks, not to mention the added gear involved with filming. Metal on metal is bad news in the woods and so I began to consider ways to dampen this noise, while remaining economical of course.
I believe I first came across the idea of using cloth hockey tape after watching an instructional video featuring Land and Game Company’s Rod White. Rod mentioned that he wraps a lot of his gear, including tree stands, with hockey tape to reduce noise. I began to search the web for places to buy bulk tape, and I found several resources on websites like Amazon and EBay. I found a multi roll pack for under $10, and a couple days later I was going to work wrapping the leading edges of my treestand, my climbing sticks and my camera arm in several layers of tape. Because it is so cheap, you can use a liberal amount without feeling like it is costing you an arm and a leg. Additionally, the tape is easily maneuvered around corners and weld joints, etc. I was able to cover my treestand, camera arm and base, and one set of climbing sticks with one roll of tape, (approximately $4). I used the second roll for my other two portable hang-ons, and my spare set of climbing sticks. I can now pack my aluminum stand, sticks and camera arm together, put the stand on my back and literally jump up and down without any metal on metal noise.
A close up showing the tape wrap around the leading edge of this Big Game Bravada (now Muddy Bravada) treestand. Also shown are Muddy Climbing sticks, with hockey tape wrap, packed onto the portable hang-on stand with use of a custom bungee.
One thing to keep in mind is that the application of the tape, (to your stand especially), will take longer than Stealth Strips or Summit Skin. The tape adhesive is also not as strong as it is on Stealth Strips and so instead of laying a long piece of tape length-wise along the edge of the stand, you will instead need wrap the tape around the tubing, (or molding, if your stand is cast aluminum). This can be a tedious process. Remember to make the tape run as continuously as possible. Meaning, where you end one piece of tape, wrap the next piece of tape around that end to create a continuous layer and reduce the number of free ends of tape. If you do this correctly, you can create a continuous wrap of tape with only one tail at the very end of the run. Consider every location on your gear where metal can come in contact with other metal pieces or may be more likely to have sticks and branches brush against it. You may also consider wrapping the front edge of your stand with paracord to further reduce noise if you want to take your modification to the next level.
Stealth doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Thinking outside the box can save you money and make your pastime a more affordable endeavor. Have you modified your mobile set up for stealth? I would love to hear the tactics that work for you, leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can order the tape I used for my gear here:
Jaybird & Mais Cloth Hockey Tape