There is nothing like the satisfaction of slipping into a well-scouted spot and setting up the perfect stand months before the season opens.
Each ambush site that is prepped correctly and then left alone is an asset to the whitetail hunter, however, any site that isn't may become a liability.
We've all hung stands and thought we'd be able to find them in the dark of morning without a solid entrance trail. That never goes well. We've all also climbed into a stand for a first sit and took a long look around to realize that our shooting lanes aren't as numerous or as well-trimmed as they should be.
Other overlooked details can siphon away the enjoyment of a hunt, like a crooked treestand or suddenly realizing that once the sun has fully set and it's time to leave, there is no good way to go about it without alerting the deer.
Good hunters are made from hundreds upon hundreds of mistakes and many of them are made when setting treestands. Other than experience, there is only one way to jump a few spots up the learning curve, and that is by using the right tools to get your spots squared away. Following are seven essentials that every serious bowhunter should consider.
Battenfield Technologies | Hooyman Ratchet Pruner
Hooyman developed a strong reputation among do-it-yourselfers with their original pole saws. These days, the company offers a much larger product line, but a personal favorite is the Ratchet Pruner.
The all-aluminum pruner is invaluable for trimming entrance and exit routes, and for those limbs that are too big for the snippers - it contains a saw blade as well. This is one of my go-to products for stuffing in a pack and carrying into every stand I sit as well, because you never know when you're going to need it.
Cabela's | Alaskan Guide 183 Crosslock by Buck Knives
This isn't the first type of tool one would think to toss in a backpack for a stand-hanging mission. It is, however, an excellent piece of equipment to carry every time you hunt. The reasons for this is that the Made-in-the-USA knife is designed with a wicked-sharp blades and a saw blade.
The Crosslock is perfect for gutting and piecing out deer, of course, but the saw blade also allows you to trim up a few finishing touches on your entrance trails or while in stand. At only four ounces, it's ideal for carrying in and will make quick work of smaller limbs and branches.
Hunter Safety System | Hanger Utility Harness
This might be the best hunting product I've seen in a while. The Hanger is designed with deep utility pockets for steps, saws and other tools. It can also be used to haul up a LIFELINE, which increases the overall safety offered with the Hanger. Naturally, this harness work with the included Lineman's Climbing belt to keep you attached all of the way up and down.
If you're not sold because you already have a harness, consider this - during those days when it's hot and buggy in the woods, you won't have to worry about spraying the Hanger with insect repellant or getting it good and sweaty, because it's not the harness with which you'll hunt. Store it in the garage next to your gas cans, stink it up, do whatever with it, because it doesn't matter.
Hunters Specialties | White Reflective Trail Tacks
An awful lot of companies have tried to reinvent this particular wheel, but if you really want to mark your entrance trails well there is nothing better to use than reflective tacks. I like to brush out my trails and then tack the bottoms of trees, about a foot off of the ground, so that I can keep my flashlight held low and still see my route. A pack of 50 usually covers two or three treestands, so I tend to load up on these morning-hunt lifesavers during the prime stand-hanging season.
One tip I'll offer up for first-time users is to use more tacks than you think you'll need. Because you'll be tacking a trail in daylight it'll look like a simple walk through the woods, in the pre-dawn darkness you'll wish you had used more tacks to light your way.
Lethal | Bug & Tick Repellent
Insects are a way of life for the mid-summer stand-hanger, but that doesn't mean you need to let them bite you. I tried out the Lethal Bug & Tick Repellent on a late-season turkey hunt in Kansas this year and was impressed. Since then, and since it is available in a small, two-ounce bottle, I carry it with me every time I head into the woods to hang stands.
It's perfect for a touch-up job, complete coverage, or for spraying boot tops and pant legs to keep ticks at bay (and more importantly, the diseases they carry).
Muddy | EZ Twist Pull Up Rope
Muddy produces A LOT of cool products for hanging treestands, but one that is often overlooked is their EZ Twist Pull Up Rope. This 25-foot tow rope features a silent, EZ Twist-Tie at the end for quick connection to all gear.
This innovative end-design is easy to use with gloved hands, which is something we can all appreciate. At only $9, this is a no-brainer for not only setting up aerial perches, but hunting out of them later.
Realtree | Multi-Purpose EZ Hanger XL
No quality stand site is complete without a bow or accessory hanger. Fortunately, Realtree offers up the EZ Hanger XL, which extends to just a shade under 23 inches and is perfect for holding your bow, binos, calls, or even your backpack. If that length doesn't suit you, also available in the lineup is a 13-inch version, and a 3-arm 34-incher. I have to admit, it has been a slow migration for me to bow hangers.
I've always preferred resting my bow on my lap so I have a hand on it at all times, but my father started using bow hangers and I realized that they are pretty handy. Now I use one on every stand that I can, but only if they are silent and can fold out of the way - much like these.
ScentBlocker | Bug Blocker
Two options - Bug Blocker for Mosquitos and Bug Blocker for Ticks - are offered in ScentBlocker's new line of insect repellents. The mosquito version harnesses the power of DEET to repel the tiny, airborne blood suckers while the Tick version is loaded up with Permethrin, which not only repels ticks but can also kill them. Both are a good option for bowhunters stepping into the midsummer work to do a little whitetail sweat equity.
Wicked Tree Gear | Wicked Tough Pole Saw
If you've never used a Wicked saw, you're missing out. They are, in this hunter's humble opinion, the best saws ever to hit the hunting market. This goes for the hand saw, of course, but also the Pole Saws, which are available in three lengths - six-, 12-, and 15-foot.
It's well-engineered telescoping design and high-carbon arborist blade make this saw an obvious choice for anyone who is serious about clearing shooting lanes and getting the job done right the first time.
Zippo | 4-In-1 Woodsman
This must-have tool has been around for a few years now. I picked one up soon after they were unleashed on the world and have used it for so many different things it's ridiculous. With its five-inch axe head, mallet and 15-inch saw blade the 4-In-1 is a great choice for treestand setup. I especially like the axe for hinge cutting branches that I don't want to cut through fully.
Simply take a couple of careful whacks with the axe, and you can bend trees and limbs out of the way without killing them so they'll hold their leaves throughout the season. This is also one of the best tools I've ever used for brushing in ground blinds, if staying on the dirt is more your thing.