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The Good Stuff: Deer Me Rope-On Steps

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May 12, 2011

The Good Stuff: Deer Me Rope-On Steps

By Scott Bestul

This is the first installment of a series Dave and I will run from time to time on deer gear we love. Similar to our “Good and Cheap” serial, an item featured in “The Good Stuff” needn’t be inexpensive, it just has to meet a simple criteria; it works so well that it’s gone from merely functional to holding a soft spot in our hearts.

Here’s my opener; a tree step that—to the best of my knowledge—isn’t even made any more. I started using Deer Me rope-on steps in the 1980’s, when there wasn’t a screw-in step made that could penetrate a tree without encouragement from a hammer and an act of God. My cousins put me on to Deer Me’s, and we fell in love with them because they were very sturdy, totally quiet, relatively cheap (about $20 for four, I think), and easy to install. Better yet, they were safe; the step was not only wide enough for a bulky boot, it had a little upturn so your foot wouldn’t slip off the end.

Like most great products, Deer Me’s were simply but smartly made; nothing more than a piece of steel bent to the proper shape, dipped in heavy-duty rubber, and fitted with a rope.

The rope was the only weak link. After years of use and exposure to weather, the poly started to fray and got more difficult to slide and maneuver. But new steps were cheap, and we even learned to replace ropes when necessary.

With a half-dozen Deer Me’s and a portable stand I could get up any tree worth hunting from, and do so quickly and without spooking game. These days, a good screw-in step is much easier to find. Climbing sticks are better, safer and a great alternative where screw-ins aren’t legal or acceptable. I use both climbing methods, and I suppose—-given a trade-off here and there—-they’re just as good as a Deer Me.

But it tickles me that it took hunting companies 20-some years to come up with an alternative to a simply-designed step I used as a much younger man. Local legend has it they were made by a Minnesota family in a home-based shop, and I’ve never seen a rope-on step that could match them. While I occasionally see an ad for a used set online, the regular stores I bought them from no longer stock them, so I keep a close eye on the remaining 8 steps in my collection. Have any of you used a Deer Me?

Comments (21)

Top Rated
All Comments
from Bushwackers wrote 2 years 49 weeks ago

Never even heard of them, but a great idea. In Iowa its illeagle to screw steps into a tree on state land.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 2 years 49 weeks ago

Have never seen the steps but I like them.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from badsmerf wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

Who needs steps? Just hug the tree and start climbing!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from 007 wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

I quit using screw in steps a few years back and went to climbling sticks, I was always afraid of my foot slipping and getting impaled on one of them.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jcarlin wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

Her Majesty's agent is on to something. I thought they stopped making steps with the upward turned hooks to catch your boots, a seemingly good idea, becuase a couple of guys slipped on them and were partially eviscerated by the things. You see tree sticks that have more of a swept upward look now than a definitive hook on the end. I don't know if the ropes attached firmly enough that they would be effective without the boot catch at the end.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

i've never seen these but i think i would like them.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Cgull wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

I used to make my own out of treated 12 inch 2x4's, cut in half at a 45* angle. Drill a hole in each board near the short side, near the angle cut and used rope to secure to the tree. The 45 * angle will bind the rope and give a good foothold. I haven't used these since screw in steps came on the market.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from BuckeyeDucker wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

Got one in my blind bag. Best gear hanger in the world for walk-in duck hunting in flooded sloughs and timber.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from VAturkeyhunter wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

theres a guy around here who had screw in steps and he slipped while climbing and he hit every step on the way down with his crotch, and well as you could guess it wasn't pretty, airlifted to a hospital... I am never going to mess with them in my opinion.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Walt Smith wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

I never trusted screw in tree steps, the screw looked too short and it looked like a accident waiting to happen, I've always used climbing sticks and appreciate their sturdyness and saftey factor. Never seen these before, but to me there looks like there would be a lot of movement going on climbing step to step, un-needed movement, especially in the dark.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from vtbluegrass wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

There was a similar product with a heavy duty plastic step and nylon strap that got recalled recently. I used a set that was loaned to me for a week long trip and loved them and then they got pulled from shelves. I don't hunt anywhere that screw in are legal and I hate ladder sections because with a hunting pack, treestand, bow, and three rung steps you are regulation weighed down. Individual strap on step that you can just throw in a pack are the best thing ever. I hope some manufacturer will revisit the idea soon.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Drew McClure wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

If the sweep was turned into a circle it keep your boot from slipping and also keep you from being impaled.

------! instead ------0

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from dave the bowhunter wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

can you still buy them rope steps and where

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from hamrhandle wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

then ppl would be losing fingers as they stick them in the hole while climbing and then slip! by by mr index

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from DeepSouthHunter wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

vtbluegrass, check out a product called Climb Paws. They may be exactly what you are looking for.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from DeepSouthHunter wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

vtbluegrass, check out a product called Climb Paws. They may be just what you are looking for.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from pudgexl29 wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

can you still buy these? i haven't found any of them on the internet

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from MATroutslayer wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

I inherited a set of 12 strap-on steps from my late uncle. They steps themselves are made of knurled aluminum, they are about 6 inches long and 2 inches wide, and the straps are heavy duty nylon with steel tension buckles. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find them recently, as I have to replace 6 of them that were stolen by an animal-rights activist who lives down the street...

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from MLH wrote 2 years 46 weeks ago

One particular bowhunting safety instructor tried to make these out as the most dangerous things you can use, along with the tree saddle. I've used both for years without any issues. Problem is that there are a messload of bowhunters out there that he has convinced based on his piss-poor opinion stated as fact and his credible position.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Hansen1989 wrote 2 years 30 weeks ago

This is interesting, but I'm not sure if it were strong enough to hold the force when we climbed it... I've never seen this deer hunting gear before.

where can I buy it? might wanna try it, thx for the info :)

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from woodsdog wrote 2 years 19 weeks ago

You like them things? I used to use something similar and they are fine if your foot pressure is absolutely directly above the step. But that's never the case... at least for me. If you pushed or pulled just a little bit they wobbled all over the place regardless of how tight you could tie them. I always thought they would be better with a circle at the base to at least provide for a bit more stability but I would never use them. Mine had a ratchet strap type of deal. They sucked! I liked the beefy screw ins made by loc-on when they were in business and then the Magnum Deer Me type screw ins. I till have a couple in my climbing stand pocket for holding up my gear one I'm in the stand. I just wrapped them with some camo duct tape to quiet them a bit.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from Bushwackers wrote 2 years 49 weeks ago

Never even heard of them, but a great idea. In Iowa its illeagle to screw steps into a tree on state land.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 007 wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

I quit using screw in steps a few years back and went to climbling sticks, I was always afraid of my foot slipping and getting impaled on one of them.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jcarlin wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

Her Majesty's agent is on to something. I thought they stopped making steps with the upward turned hooks to catch your boots, a seemingly good idea, becuase a couple of guys slipped on them and were partially eviscerated by the things. You see tree sticks that have more of a swept upward look now than a definitive hook on the end. I don't know if the ropes attached firmly enough that they would be effective without the boot catch at the end.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

i've never seen these but i think i would like them.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from VAturkeyhunter wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

theres a guy around here who had screw in steps and he slipped while climbing and he hit every step on the way down with his crotch, and well as you could guess it wasn't pretty, airlifted to a hospital... I am never going to mess with them in my opinion.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 2 years 49 weeks ago

Have never seen the steps but I like them.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from badsmerf wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

Who needs steps? Just hug the tree and start climbing!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Cgull wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

I used to make my own out of treated 12 inch 2x4's, cut in half at a 45* angle. Drill a hole in each board near the short side, near the angle cut and used rope to secure to the tree. The 45 * angle will bind the rope and give a good foothold. I haven't used these since screw in steps came on the market.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from BuckeyeDucker wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

Got one in my blind bag. Best gear hanger in the world for walk-in duck hunting in flooded sloughs and timber.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Walt Smith wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

I never trusted screw in tree steps, the screw looked too short and it looked like a accident waiting to happen, I've always used climbing sticks and appreciate their sturdyness and saftey factor. Never seen these before, but to me there looks like there would be a lot of movement going on climbing step to step, un-needed movement, especially in the dark.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from vtbluegrass wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

There was a similar product with a heavy duty plastic step and nylon strap that got recalled recently. I used a set that was loaned to me for a week long trip and loved them and then they got pulled from shelves. I don't hunt anywhere that screw in are legal and I hate ladder sections because with a hunting pack, treestand, bow, and three rung steps you are regulation weighed down. Individual strap on step that you can just throw in a pack are the best thing ever. I hope some manufacturer will revisit the idea soon.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Drew McClure wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

If the sweep was turned into a circle it keep your boot from slipping and also keep you from being impaled.

------! instead ------0

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from dave the bowhunter wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

can you still buy them rope steps and where

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from hamrhandle wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

then ppl would be losing fingers as they stick them in the hole while climbing and then slip! by by mr index

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from DeepSouthHunter wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

vtbluegrass, check out a product called Climb Paws. They may be exactly what you are looking for.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from DeepSouthHunter wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

vtbluegrass, check out a product called Climb Paws. They may be just what you are looking for.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from pudgexl29 wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

can you still buy these? i haven't found any of them on the internet

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from MATroutslayer wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

I inherited a set of 12 strap-on steps from my late uncle. They steps themselves are made of knurled aluminum, they are about 6 inches long and 2 inches wide, and the straps are heavy duty nylon with steel tension buckles. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find them recently, as I have to replace 6 of them that were stolen by an animal-rights activist who lives down the street...

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from MLH wrote 2 years 46 weeks ago

One particular bowhunting safety instructor tried to make these out as the most dangerous things you can use, along with the tree saddle. I've used both for years without any issues. Problem is that there are a messload of bowhunters out there that he has convinced based on his piss-poor opinion stated as fact and his credible position.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Hansen1989 wrote 2 years 30 weeks ago

This is interesting, but I'm not sure if it were strong enough to hold the force when we climbed it... I've never seen this deer hunting gear before.

where can I buy it? might wanna try it, thx for the info :)

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from woodsdog wrote 2 years 19 weeks ago

You like them things? I used to use something similar and they are fine if your foot pressure is absolutely directly above the step. But that's never the case... at least for me. If you pushed or pulled just a little bit they wobbled all over the place regardless of how tight you could tie them. I always thought they would be better with a circle at the base to at least provide for a bit more stability but I would never use them. Mine had a ratchet strap type of deal. They sucked! I liked the beefy screw ins made by loc-on when they were in business and then the Magnum Deer Me type screw ins. I till have a couple in my climbing stand pocket for holding up my gear one I'm in the stand. I just wrapped them with some camo duct tape to quiet them a bit.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

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