To consistently succeed on public lands under pressure, hunters must go where the deer are and other hunters are not. This flexible style of mobile search can mean moving to a new place every time you feel like it.
But if you’re wearing a climber or pendant every time, it can become a real grind, especially when you’re logging a few significant miles to your next spot. You’ll arrive at the ambush site sweaty, sore, and exhausted before the hunt begins.
Trimming a few ounces here and there from your tree base setup could lighten the load and have a big impact on your overall enjoyment. These simple swaps can make loading, setting up, and tearing down much easier for mobile hunters.
change your seat
Most tree stands come with a bulky, uncomfortable cushion that is noisy and adds unnecessary weight. These seats often freeze in cold weather or become chew toys for squirrels when left outside.
Removing the factory seat and replacing it with a lighter alternative can shed some weight and leave you with a quieter, more comfortable setup. You can easily tie your own mesh, webbing, or netting to create a versatile seat, or purchase a hammock-style seat.
If you do it yourself, you can make this cheap solution for a few dollars. Just make sure the materials you choose are rated for the weight you’ll be placing on them, and use as many tie-down points as possible to ensure your seat is secure.
Attach with AmSteel
If you drag a pendant and climb sticks in the woods every time, chances are you’re messing with heavy straps with noisy hardware. Try swapping these cumbersome materials with easy-to-use AmSteel.
Compact and lightweight, AmSteel has the best strength-to-weight ratio with minimal stretch and maximum wear resistance. Braided Dyneema fibers make AmSteel cable incredibly durable and capable of holding as much as a steel cable at around 15% of the weight.
Some manufacturers sell specific AmSteel designs for tree supports to replace straps, bungees, bow hangers and other components. It is also available by the foot so you can create your own custom AmSteel configuration. Be sure to follow the instructions for proper splicing of AmSteel so that the fibers maintain their integrity.
Getting up 20 feet off the ground on a hangout usually requires four or more climbing poles. At a couple of pounds per club, that weight can add up quickly.
But hunters can climb higher with fewer sticks by adding some sort of packable assist device. Constructed of webbing, rope or AmSteel, Climbing Aids can extend the reach of each climbing pole by one or two steps. They can remain attached to a climbing pole, or you can move them with you as you climb the tree. And they weigh a fraction of most climbing poles.
Growing rapidly in popularity among bowhunters, climbing aids are available from various manufacturers, but they’re also easy to make at home with just a few supplies.
Switch to a saddle
Bowhunting from a tree saddle has become the tactic of choice in the last couple of years, but these lightweight systems have been around for decades. Using a series of ropes, climbing tools, a saddle, and a compact platform or ring of tree steps, this elevated style of hunting is ideal for sneaking on public land.
While the average climber or suspended setup could easily top 20 pounds, most saddles weigh in at 1-2 pounds like a feather. Throw in all the necessary accessories and you could still be looking at a setup under 10 pounds.
In addition to significantly reducing weight with the correct setup, arbor mounts also reduce bulk, provide more angle of throw opportunities, and can be much quieter than their all-metal counterparts. If you’re sick of lugging around a heavy tree, consider switching to a saddle.
Taking some weight off your mobile hunting setup might save you some pain and energy, but don’t sacrifice safety to save a few ounces. Make sure your tweaks don’t change the structural stability of your stand and be aware that modifications could void your warranty.
Never overload materials above their weight rating. And just as you monitor the condition of your bracket and steps, regularly check any modifications for signs of wear.