It’s no secret that staying quiet in the woods is an essential part of getting close to deer. But when it comes to mature bucks, even the slightest unnatural sound can ruin your hunt. There’s nothing worse than pulling a carabiner out of your pack only to have it bump the seat of your stand.
If you aren’t taking measures to make sure your gear is as quiet as possible, you could be tipping off the buck you’ve worked all year for with subtle, seemingly minor noises that are entirely avoidable. You’ve done all your homework, poured over maps, scouted fresh sign, and waited for the conditions to be right. Don’t let a metal climbing stick buckle or exposed, bare treestand seat keep you from having the season of your dreams. Here are three inexpensive materials and simple applications to keep gear whisper-quiet, so the infamous “clanks” and “clinks” are nothing more than bad memories.
Phase 1: Hockey Tape
If I were to break my gear silencing process down into phases, this would be phase one of a three-phase approach. My first line of defense in the war on noise in the woods is hockey tape. I’ve found it to be the most versatile and durable material I use, and it’s pretty affordable, too. Hockey tape adheres and forms well to virtually anything. It’s not the end-all when it comes to eliminating noise, but I use it for the broad, large coverage areas. I like to cover the outer perimeter of the stand platform, post of the stand, and climbing stick posts. This fabric tape is lightweight and helps dampen those high pitch “tings” and “clangs” from buckles, releases or any other metal to metal contact. As a bonus, hockey tape provides a bit of texture and adds a little extra grip for what otherwise would be just slick metal surfaces.
Phase 2: Stealth Strips
For phase two in my approach, I found a product around five or six years ago called Stealth Strips from Stealth Outdoors. Talk about a game-changer for stand platforms, stand cables, climbing sticks, bow hangers, and really any rigid surface that holds an adhesive. These water-resistant patches are made of ultra-durable microsuede fabric with a strong adhesive backing that doesn’t wear off with heavy use. They can be used in place of hockey tape, but I prefer to use the two together. Stealth Strips don’t have the same grip texture that hockey tape has, and although they are reasonably priced, they are a little more expensive, so I primarily use them for the more critical contact points like the outer edges of treestand seats and platforms. They are sold in multiple lengths and sizes, and you can order them in kits to fit specific brands of climbing sticks and treestands for perfect coverage. You can also cut them to fit any setup and surface.
Phase 3: Rubber Grip Tape
In the third and final phase of my gear silencing process, I try to deaden the sounds of moving metal parts such as carabiners, buckles, and seat to platform contact points. These features seem to cause the most noise in a mobile hunting rig because they are handled more frequently. The fix is rubberized grip tape in one of two forms; bicycle grip tape or baseball bat grip tape. I use these two interchangeably and have been satisfied with how both perform. But if I had to pick one, I would go with the baseball bat grip tape. Although it may not be quite as thick or padded as bicycle grip tape, it forms to curved frames a little easier and does a better job of holding its adhesive.
When wrapping carabiners, I apply using a spiral rotation unraveling the tape as I go. This keeps the adhesive in place and provides smooth, consistent coverage. For buckles, I like to measure the top, bottom, and two sides of the buckle and cut the appropriate length strips and pieces to cover the buckles without leaving excess material. Rubberized grip tape is the most effective sound deadening material I use, but I don’t get carried away with blanketing everything in it. It adds some weight, so if weight is a big factor for you, be mindful of how much you use. It also tends to wear out more easily and loses its adhesive quicker than hockey tape or Stealth Strips. When used in key places though—and along with the two materials above—it can be the difference between getting busted and getting the shot opportunity you’ve worked hard for.