It doesn’t take long for bowhunters to learn Murphy’s Law in the field; “If something can go wrong, it will go wrong.” One of the most common mishaps while bowhunting is making too much noise – either while getting set up for the day’s hunt or during the moment of truth while preparing to execute the shot. Treestands and their associated accessories can be some of the worst culprits for causing noise at the most inopportune times, so today we’re going to take a look at how to silence your treestand gear. We’ll take a look at a variety of noise dampening and eliminating products, both in and out of the hunting market.
Before we get too far into the products, let’s talk about a deer’s ability to hear. We know that we are predators and deer are prey. So as much as hunters are trying to be quiet, deer are trying even harder to pick up on any sounds they aren’t used to. I think the most important key here is reducing “unnatural” noise to a deer’s environment. Deep woods deer are different than urban deer because they have a different “natural” environment. Your urban buck may be used to you running your circular saw and a metal clank or two may not bother him all that much. However, clank some metal together a mile back near a thicket and the sounds of deer busting out are soon to follow.
A study done by the University of Georgia Deer Lab determined that deer hearing isn’t really superior to human hearing. However, deer have the advantage of having ears that are like mini satellite dishes that can rotate almost 365 degrees to focus in on distinct sounds which helps them determine exactly what they are hearing. If you haven’t ever cupped your ear and listened to the improved hearing sensation, I recommend trying it. Deer can basically hear a sound the same distance as humans can, but like dogs, can also pick up on sounds at slightly higher frequencies than humans. So metal scraping or clanking that sends higher frequency sound waves works to our detriment.
This product is an adhesive-backed camouflage fabric tape that is micro-suede soft and incredibly sticky on the reverse side. I found this product by doing some online reading and was honestly impressed by its strength and versatility. Stealth Strips have long been the talk of serious bowhunting forums and used by gear junkies and “noise freaks” everywhere. They are primarily designed for use on climbing sticks, however they are versatile enough to be used on just about any piece of metal hunting equipment.
A common application of this product is directly on climbing sticks. The strips can be purchased in various lengths and even cut to custom specs you need if desired. For this set of Lone Wolf Sticks, we removed the handles and all bolts, and applied it directly to the metal stick. Stealth Strips sells this 4 inch by 30 inch strip that is made specifically to fit the Lone Wolf Stick. 1 True Timber Amerisuede piece 4” by 32” sells for $7.50. 4 pieces are sold in a climbing stick silencing kit for $25.00.
Buck Bumper is a camouflaged foam padded adhesive tape designed for hunters to use on multiple applications to help them stay quiet. It comes in regular sized roll that is 3/4″ wide and 1/32″ thick which can be used to wrap items, as well as a slightly wider (1″) and thicker (1/8″) version which can be more strategically applied to specific contact points. Both the thick (6ft) and regular (15 ft) packages are priced at $14.99 per roll.
This thin foam grip tape is made for baseball bats. The same company sells similar products for lacrosse and road cycling handlebar grips. Now, pretty much every sport has their own version of this grip tape including tennis, field hockey, golf, you name it, you can probably find it. It’s very soft, has awesome deadening qualities, and feels really good on the hands. It comes in a multitude of crazy colors, so take your pic. They are the official “bat grip of Major League Baseball.” A 39” piece costs about $12.00, making it one of the more expensive options for silencing your treestand and other gear.
Yakgrips Kayak Paddle Hand Grips
This product designed for kayakers adapts perfectly for slipping over tie down buckles found on treestand and climbing stick straps. These buckles are a frequent source of noise for bowhunters who like to “run and gun” by setting up and tearing down their portable stands on every trip to the woods.
Typically, 1 Yakgrip is cut into 2 pieces that fit nicely over the buckles. The interior is a slip resistant neoprene that still allows the buckle to be tightened and loosened without removing the grip. One extra advantage of this product is that it keeps the weather of your buckles and keeps the snow and ice out. Have you ever tried to take of a frozen buckle? Not fun.
A 2 pack of Yakgrips will run you $15 and is enough to cover 4 buckles.
Bike Inner Tube 1.5mm-2.25mm
Hunters can be pretty innovative thinkers when it comes to improving their gear, and this one is certainly proof of that! A bicycle tire inner tube fits absolutely perfect around a 1” x 1” climbing stick such as the Lone Wolf, and can be cut and adapted to many other applications as well. One popular use is to slide them over the buckles of your climbing stick straps, then cut slits to allow the buckle to function properly. Just like the Yakgrips this quiets noise caused by the buckles clanging into one another or your stand during transport and installation.
Most inner tubes will run you between $5 and $10 and can cover a considerable amount of buckles. You’ll need several tubes if you plan on covering your entire set of climbing sticks.
Additional Gear Silencing Options
Gear Ties by Nite Ize: As Justin Zarr referenced in this article, these gear ties are an easy fix to many storage problems and help quiet your gear on trips in and out of the woods. They work great for securing loose items that have a tendency to bang around during travel.
Limbsaver used to make this deadening product that I used on my old Loggy Bayou climbing aid. I don’t believe it is still being sold, but there are common products like Flex-Seal or Plastidip for $12.99 for a 14 oz can that you can buy at your local hardware store. Again, going back to reducing metal on metal contact, these sprays can be used on almost any dense surface and provide a layer of rubberized coating to dampen vibration. One drawback of these rubberized coatings is they can get slick when wet and often don’t hold up to a lot of abuse. Many hunters report having better luck with spray-on or roll-on bedliner material intended for truck beds. This can usually be found at your local hardware or home improvement store as well.
The rubber spray from Limbsaver gave the separated metal grating a nice coating. It definitely would deaden sound, but not as well as the other products. It also adds a bit of weight and also needs some time to air out after application in order to dissipate the scent.
Some other ideas for quieting are electrical tape or hockey tape with fabric that provides slightly more durability. A lot of people use paracord as a sound barrier on tree stand equipment. Although it can be rather time consuming to install, paracord not only helps deaden sound but also makes your gear look cool, and who doesn’t like that?
Tips For Silencing Treestands
The #1 key to silencing your treestand is to focus on moving parts and areas with metal-on-metal contact. This includes where the foldable seat touches the support bracket, and where the support bracket folds to touch the platform when not in use.
I used the Buck Bumper, paracord, and a rubber deadening spray on different tree stands to test their effectiveness. The Buck Bumper provides awesome protection on my Lone Wolf Sit and Climb. When folded down, the stand has a lot of metal to metal contact that was greatly reduced by the Buck Bumper strips. The paracord option was simple to learn and easy to do by watching a few YouTube videos. I really like this because it deadens sound as well as tells you where the edge of your tree stand is without looking.
Silencing Your Climbing Sticks
We used 3 different silencing methods which were the Buck Bumper regular wrap, the Stealth Strips, and the rubber inner tube. Overall I felt like the rubber inner tube was the quietest of the bunch but probably wouldn’t last as long as the other two. The Bumper and Stealth Strips maintained about the same level of noise reduction which was far less than pure metal on metal. The Stealth Strips certainly look the nicest and provide the best camouflage of the options we tested.
Silencing Strap Buckles & Accessories
From the different options tested, I think the custom cut Yakgrips provided the most protection for the buckles, but are also the most expensive option. Some people use cheaper beer can koozies, cut them, and re-sew them to cover buckles as well. The inner tube provides an ample amount of protection and noise dampening, and is probably the cheapest and quickest option to implement. Both the Buck Bumper and Stealth Strips were easy enough to cut and install, and provide an ample amount of noise dampening, however they provide the least amount of protection from the elements.
Treestand Gear Silencing Conclusion
As you can see, there are a variety of ways to silence your treestands, climbing sticks and associated accessories. I’m not sure any of the tested methods was a clear winner or loser for any specific application. While several methods require a bit more work to implement, none of them were difficult or very expensive. With a little bit of planning and a couple hours of time you can quickly reduce the amount of noise your treestand equipment makes, which can greatly improve your ability to hunt in silence.