In the last few years, mobile hunting has boomed and manufactures have answered the cry of hunters for lighter and more compact equipment. It’s a great time to be a mobile hunter because of improved gear, but there are still some simple mods and additions to make your mobile hunting setup even more efficient.
Silence Your Gear Silencing your gear is potentially the most important mod that you can do to improve your mobile hunting gear. As a mobile hunter we're constantly setting up and tearing down throughout the season. In the pursuit of mature bucks, a foreign noise made during the setup could alert the animal you’re after and potentially ruin a hunt.
In 2007 I was hunting a heavy-antlered 8-pointer on some extremely pressured ground in southern Michigan. Back then my mobile set up consisted of a cheap hang-on tree stand with a standard strap and a metal hook on the end. As I erected the stand, I reached around the back of the tree to secure it and lost my grip of the strap. The end of the strap swung down and hit the platform of the stand, causing a very loud, unnatural noise. Immediately the buck stood up from his bedding in a wide-open bean field and peered over in my direction for five minutes.
He eventually calmed and bedded back down. I thought I had gotten away with it and still felt confident in my hunt. As the evening progressed, the buck stood up with a few minutes of shooting light left and did the same exact thing; looking my way for any sign of danger. He clearly wanted to travel my direction and towards the water, but the unnatural noise was just too much and his instincts told him it wasn’t safe. I watched the buck slowly turn and walk away.
When targeting older deer in a pressured area outside of the rut, we often attempt to set up in or near known bedding areas. Deer in these areas can be very sensitive, so taking the time to silence your gear is absolutely worth it and just might be the difference between filling your tag and going home empty handed. In my opinion, the best silencing material out there are stealth strips from Stealth Outdoors. You can even order them pre-cut for certain sticks and tree stands.
Lighten Your Gear Lightweight gear and packability is the name of the game when it comes to mobile hunting. Hunters are always trying to reduce weight and minimize the footprint of the gear they bring into the woods. One no-brainer addition to any mobile hunting setup is an aider.
Aiders are "ladders" in the form of rope that connect to the bottom of a climbing stick. There are plenty of companies that produce aiders, or you can make one yourself. They range from one step to multiple, but the most common aiders are just a singular loop of rope.
Often you can bring fewer climbing sticks into the woods and achieve the same hunting height with aiders. This can make a big impact when you’re trying to reduce weight. Cutting a few pounds here and there may not seem like a big deal, but when it’s a matter of going the extra mile, through the swamp, or over the ridge, you’re more apt to go for it if your setup is lighty. There are some inherent safety concerns while using an aider, so use at your own risk. This is why I choose to only use one on my bottom stick.
Accessorize The next easy mod that has made a huge difference for me is adding accessories that reduce energy expenditure. Some examples are attaching para cord loops to your climbing sticks along with small utility clips to your tree saddle or belt. This makes it possible to reach hunting height with one trip up the tree as opposed to going up and down each time you need to hang a single stick.
Some of my favorites are the products from Mobile Hunting Gear and Genesis 3D Printing, but I’ve also found some cheap clips on Amazon that work well for hanging your sticks off of your side during the climb. Going up the tree with sticks at your side can make fast setups even faster.
The cool thing about mobile hunting is that there are always ways to tinker and fine tune your setup. With new products coming out all the time, the possibilities are endless—you can build the right mobile hunting setup that best suits you and your style of hunting. These mods should work for any mobile whitetail hunter, though.