The one stick climbing method for hanging a tree stand has some major advantages over using three or four sticks to hang your tree stand. You save a significant amount of weight, have less gear to potentially make noise, and aren’t limited to any tree height. I could easily go 35 feet up into a giant tamarack tree overlooking a cattail marsh during firearms season if I wanted to. On top of that, you could sell your extra climbing sticks, buy all the materials for the tether and lineman’s belt, and still come out ahead. You may want to keep your extra sticks, and I’ll explain why later.
This method centers around being able to utilize a rock climbing harness with a front tether. The video goes over choosing a suitable harness; mine is the Mammut Ophir 3 Slide which was purchased at a local REI. They have an excellent 100% return policy if you happen to decide this isn’t for you. The link is here: Mammut Ophir 3 Slide The rope for the tether and lineman’s belt is 7/16″ static climbing rope. I purchased mine by the foot at REI, although you can find other colors by searching online. The same is true for the webbing. I used 1″ military spec tubular webbing. The only metal in the setup is from two rock climbing carabiners and an ascender. Wild Country makes the ascender; it’s called the Ropeman. They also sell a Ropeman 2 which accepts a larger range of rope diameters. Smaller 7mm accessory cord was used for the prussik knot, though you can buy rope specifically for prussik knots that will slide a little smoother.
I initially found out about the “one stick method” idea from cbigbear1 on The Hunting Beast. His videos on the method and rock harness testing are posted below. I’ve run into a few people who are really scared of using a rock climbing harness instead of a full body tree stand harness. However, I’ve also talked to several people who’ve switched to a rock harness and won’t go back.
Advantages of a Rock Harness over a Full Body Tree Stand Harness:
-No shoulder constriction or interference when trying to draw your bow
-If you do fall, you will end up facing the tree which allows easy climbing back into it. Falling with a back tether leaves you facing away from the tree.
-Generally fewer metal/plastic components to make noise
-Freedom to easily add or remove jacket layers to regulate body temp while setting up.
-You can use it for any tree stand set-up, not just when using the “one stick climbing method.”
It might seem like the one stick method is the way to go based on what I’ve talked about so far. The one main disadvantage is the time required to climb the tree. Multiple sticks are faster. It is also more intuitive to hang multiple sticks. With the rock harness setup, you don’t need to use just one stick. You can use any number of sticks and still have the option of using the “one stick climbing method” on the last stick. So based on where you’ll be hunting, you might decide to bring one stick for spot A, three sticks for spot B, and so on… When going in blind for a deer hunt I will likely bring two sticks.
If you’re afraid of dropping the stick… just be more careful. Just kidding! There are measures to mitigate that risk. For starters, you could tie a loose ~5 foot piece of paracord from your harness to the stick, so in the case of dropping the stick, you can just grab it again and continue. Additionally, you can remove the lineman’s belt, wrap it around the tree, and use it to take weight to the tether. You could also re-hang the stand. Another person I know carries a six foot webbing loop in their pocket which can loop around the tree and be used to take weight off the tether so you can slide it down the tree. That same individual occasionally hunts out of just their rock harness, one climbing stick and three screw in steps for a platform to hunt “saddle-like” for up to two hours. The rock harness doesn’t work as well as a saddle when being used without a platform, and I explain why in the video.
Below I have links to Cbigbear1’s original videos, as well as some of my other tree stand and climbing stick mods present in the video.
Cbigbear1’s Rock Harness Testing:
Cbigbear1’s “1 stick” video: