I had trouble finding public land legal bow hanger options that were compact and quiet to carry. I also wanted something that would allow for the incorporation of the 1″ webbing strap I was already using to lash my back pack to my stand platform so as to cut down on the amount of gear I would need to carry into the woods. After trying many different things, I stumbled upon a composite rafter square I no longer was using and it ended up being exactly what I was looking for. I drilled holes to make a slot for the webbing strap to thread through and finished this off with a carpenters knife. A simple band saw did the trick for the rest of the cutting and the hanger is wide enough to accomodate split limb bows and sturdy enough to support even the heaviest models.
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.
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 email@example.com
I suppose I should start this blog out by saying that the following is a method that works for me. The focus of this blog post is to highlight the advantages that I have personally experienced via the implementation of a rock climbing harness into my hunting system. Each individual should conduct their own research and use available information on UIAA fall ratings, safety standards, and other important and widely accepted industry guidelines before implementing a modification to their hunting safety gear.
I hadn’t thought of how hunting and climbing could be combined to provide more efficiency in many treestand applications until I stumbled across the DIY Sportsman on YouTube. I don’t even remember how I found his channel, but during one of his videos he mentioned another hunter who utilized a rock climbing harness to use a one stick climbing method in order to reach his hunting height. I began to think about the benefits of a rock harness but I wasn’t sure if they could be trusted in treestand falls and I remained unsure of details like how I would fasten myself to the tree once I was at my hunting height. With a little thought I believe I solved the problems and came up with a system that reduces pack weight, is less restrictive when in the stand, and allows me to add or remove layers with ease. At the same time I was able to address these efficiency issues through the use of a climbing harness, I believe I was able to implement a system that is as safe or safer than my previous safety harness set-up. Not to mention, the rock climbing harness I picked up sells for around 50% the price of a full body hunting harness.
First and foremost, a rock climbing harness is light. The model I selected is a Black Diamond Vario Speed Harness. It is often used by instructors in classes because it has a lot of adjustment for different sizes of people. I am going to use it from early season to late season, so the adjustment is necessary for me because of the bulk of clothing it may have to go over. The other reason I picked the Vario Harness is because it has a streamlined design and doesn’t have any extra metal accessory rails, eliminating both weight and the possibility for metal on metal contact. Some modifiers use these rails as carriers for a lineman’s belt but I wanted the most minimal design possible. Using a rock climbing harness instead of a full body hunting harness can reduce pack weight by almost 2 pounds, depending what model you decide on.
The second huge benefit of a rock climbing harness is that the tree tether will attach to the front of the harness at about waist height. This keeps the tether from being an obstruction to your shot when you are trying to move from one side of the tree to the other in order to draw on a deer behind you. I have missed more than one shot opportunity in the past because I could not get positioned quickly enough due to the dorsal tether on a full body harness being in the way of my draw. At first, I was not sure if this front attachment would be safe in a forward fall. When I tested the harness, I was pleased to realize that in the event of a fall, the rock climbing harness actually will naturally turn you toward your tree, allowing you to simply climb back into your stand. Your tether is shorter with this system as well, limiting both the distance you can fall and therefore the shock felt in the fall. If you are a hunter who uses a Hunter Safety System Life Line or similar product which incorporates a Prusik knot system as a climbing aid, you will experience an additional benefit to the rock climbing harness. Since the tether is attached to the front of the harness at your waist, you avoid having it come over your shoulder by your head and neck like it must do with a full body hunting harness with a dorsal attachment. With a rock harness, the tether is always in front of you at chest height. I feel this is a significantly safer way to utilize the Life Line safety systems when ascending or descending.
Lastly, and perhaps the most easily recognizable benefit is that I can put the rock climbing harness on and walk to my stand with the freedom to add or remove upper layers without taking a full body harness off my shoulders. This is important if you are hunting remote areas with long access walks, or if you traverse hill country and need to shed layers to keep yourself from sweating and creating additional body odor. If I choose to pack the harness in, it is compact and lightweight, folding up into a 6 inch square about 2 inches thick. It fits nicely in my pack and doesn’t take up all the room in my backpack like my full body harness would. The full body harness always became a tangled mess and was almost impossible to put on in the dark at the bottom of the tree if I chose not to wear it while walking in. It was also very noisy because of the large buckles on it. The Vario harness has sleek and compact buckles that have less chance to contact other metal gear.
Is a rock climbing harness for you? It depends on the type of hunting you do. Whatever you decide, the two most important things are that your system is safe and that you feel comfortable with it.
Below are some of the resources I used when making my decision to switch to a rock climbing harness.
The DIY Sportsman discusses modifying a rock climbing harness for treestand application: