With turkey season comfortably in the rearview, it's time to start hammering the checklist for the fall. I love dedicating these next few months to tackling gear tweaks, modifications, and adjustments. I review my notes from last fall to keep the necessary mods fresh in my mind. I record these changes in my phone from the stand throughout the season. It makes all the difference for fixing subtle squeaks and finding missed metal-on-metal contact points and loose parts.
Eliminating as much noise as possible in the gear we use is one of the most essential chores of mobile hunting. Let's look at some proven ways to keep your equipment quiet so you can stay on the move to get close this fall.
Hockey tape is the most versatile and durable material I've found at an affordable price. It offers excellent adhesive and forms well to virtually any frame. It's not the end-all for eliminating noise, but I use it for the broad, large coverage areas. It's textured, lightweight, and helps dampen those high pitch "tings" and "clangs" from buckles, releases, and other metal-to-metal contact points. Hockey tape also provides a bit of texture to any surface and adds a little extra grip for what otherwise would be just a slick metal surface. It is easily found in most sporting goods stores and, of course, online.
After a while, the tape works into itself, making it very durable and long-lasting. Apply it on the edge of the seat, where it folds up and meets the platform. Don't be afraid to get carried away with this stuff. Hockey tape is lightweight and versatile, and it’s fun to make these modifications.
I found Stealth Strips from Stealth Outdoors a few years ago. Essentially, it's fabric tape with a powerful adhesive. But don't take this stuff for granted; it's a game-changer when you're covering stand platforms, cables, climbing sticks, bow hangers, and any rigid surface. The ultra-durable micro suede fabric with strong adhesive doesn't wear off with heavy use and is water-resistant. It’s sold in multiple lengths and sizes, and you can cut and customize it to fit virtually any surface.
Stealth Strips also come in kits to fit specific brands of climbing sticks and stand features for perfect coverage. They significantly reduce any high-pitch noises that deer easily pick up. I use them on climbing sticks, strap buckles, stand cables, pack buckles, the shelf on my bow riser, and any other contact points that don't have an impact on the functionality of my gear.
Some areas require a little more heavy-duty approach to cut down noise. Deadening moving joints like carabiners, buckles, and platform contact points is vital. These points seem to cause the worst headaches for a mobile approach because they're handled constantly. We are always tearing down and setting up, packing, and repacking. When in need of thicker, sound-deadening material, I use rubber grip tape in one of two forms; bicycle grip tape or baseball bat grip tape. Both get the job done, but I prefer the baseball bat grip tape if I had to pick one. It forms onto curved frames a little easier and holds its adhesive well.
While these materials are the most sound-deadening I’ve found so far, I don't blanket everything with it. The rubber grip tape can add some weight, so be mindful of how much you use if weight factors into your approach. It also gets worn more easily and loses its adhesive quicker than hockey tape or Stealth Strips.
These simple applications aren't bulletproof. They're a small insurance policy to help protect you from yourself. This realization came from a few painful mishaps over the years that are forever burned into my memory bank. You've done all your homework, poured over maps, scouted fresh sign, and waited for the conditions to be right. When the stakes get high and your nerves start to take over, mistakes can happen, and the attention to the little details matter most. Don't let a metal climbing stick buckle or an exposed, bare tree stand seat keep you from having the season of your dreams.
Feature image via Captured Creative.