In the art of bow hunting, silent equipment is the key to success. Discover why silence is imperative and explore the best recommendations for hunting mature deer in Canada. From strategies, equipment, clothing, and tips, Michel Petit and his collaborators unveil the secrets they've gathered over four decades.
Silence is Golden!
We understand there are two types of bowhunters when it comes to deer hunting in Canada: those who consistently get close to mature deer and those who don’t. Tactics may differ from one hunter to the next, and from one location to another, but one constant among all successful bowhunters is the absolute need for silent equipment.
Silence isn’t just a perk; it's a necessity when hunting mature deer with a bow. Many noisy bowhunters mistakenly believe they go undetected during their hunts year after year. However, the reality of a mature buck is that it is utterly unforgiving. With over four decades of experience in pursuing mature deer, I know firsthand how relentless these amazing animals are. Their intelligence and survival instincts demand that hunters be utterly silent.
A trophy deer is a mature deer, and a mature deer is an experienced one that avoids anything out of the ordinary. This includes anything detected by sight, smell, or sound. Thus, noise must be completely eliminated. Though there are many ways to succeed in bow hunting, every piece of equipment in the whole system is crucial for consistent success with mature deer. A single unusual sound or a momentary lapse in attention can bring your success rate close to zero. Being a silent predator is the only way.
Over the years, Daniel Larocque and I have perfected our approach and recommend the following system:
Your bow should be easy to handle and transport, shooting well in all conditions, not just on your best days. When silencing your bow, consider not only regular use but also potential mishaps and sources of noise, such as an arrow falling off the rest (I once missed a deer because the arrow slipped from the rest and hit metal; the deer vanished in a flash) or the stabilizer touching something. I highly recommend using felt where the arrow rests.
The Stand and Ladders
Your stand, ladders, and safety harness should be prepared to avoid metal clanging, squeaking, or any other noises. Your system should be silent to carry, climb, set up, and, of course, hunt. Some stands tend to squeak in sub-zero temperatures.
I recommend covering your entire stand with hockey tape or any other camouflage tape, a fabric adhesive tape that remains soft even on the coldest days. Make sure to attach it to your platform well before the season, as fresh tape needs time to dry and air out to become scent-free.
For ultimate flexibility, I prefer a saddle hunting platform like the Predator from Tethrd, which can be taken in and out for each hunt to my preset locations with ladders or other climbing methods already in place. Unlike conventional stands made of multiple metal parts and mesh, they don’t creak in cold weather and don’t squeak.
Also, ensure that your ladder attachments are silent. I personally recommend the Skeletor climbing sticks. Tethrd's Skeletor climbing sticks are designed to be quiet, light, and safe. They are ideal for mobile and active hunting.
The quality and functionality of your saddle are paramount. Safety is the top priority, ensuring a hazard-free hunt. Ideally, a hunter should arrive at a hunting spot, either pre-set or spontaneous, equipped with a system like ladders or screw-in steps.
They should attach their bow to a rope that can be pulled up once in position (I use paracord with a large rubber twist tie because it's quiet).
The hunter should climb silently, aided by a climbing rope, with the support platform hanging from their hip or slung over their shoulder. Once up, they discreetly set up the platform, step onto it, then switch ropes for their tether, all quietly and securely. Just as with the platform and ladders, the saddle should be arranged to minimize any noise risk.
Here's my saddle hunting setup:
- Phantom Starter Kit Saddle that includes the lineman's belt and tether with a prusik knot
- Predator Platform
- Skeletor Climbing Sticks
- Knee Pads
- SYS Hauler ES 2.0 (Storage bags for your accessories like your ropes, bow-hanging equipment, backpack, etc.)
- HYS Strap (This is what I use to hang my bow, accessories, and backpack)
- Fold N Go Bow hanger (it is designed for the HYS strap and allows you to hang your bow or crossbow quietly without having to screw in anything)
- Reclining Sling (This sling provides ultimate comfort for your back)
- Ropeman 1 Ascender (Easy adjustment for the tether or lineman's belt)
- Camo fabric tape
Total weight of this setup: 13 lbs/5.9 kg
For more on saddle hunting, check out these two blogs:
Clothing: A Revolution in Silence and Warmth
Every hunter knows that the real quest isn’t just in the hunt itself, but also in the perpetual search for the perfect gear. In the harsh Canadian elements, achieving optimal silence is quite an accomplishment.
For those of us who have spent decades enduring Canada's harsh elements, trying to achieve silence while wearing various gear, SITKA’s Fanatic system is nothing short of a game-changing innovation. It's warm enough for the coldest of colds and silent enough for close-range bow harvests at single-digit distances. The Fanatic story began with SITKA product developers reviewing hundreds of textiles to select the quietest ones. After extensive design, development, and product testing, SITKA introduced the Fanatic jacket, coat, pants, and bibs you see today. Daniel Larocque, owner of L’Archerot, has hunted using this system across Canada in places like Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia.
The Importance of Base Layers: The Magic of Layering
No hunting gear set would be complete without discussing the importance of base layers. Over many years of experience, the art of layering – stacking clothes – has become a vital strategy to ensure optimal comfort, regardless of weather conditions. By layering various items, one can easily add or remove clothing based on activity intensity and temperature fluctuations. This method prevents overheating during active movement and preserves warmth when stationary.
If we had to recommend a tried and tested base layer, it would undoubtedly be *Woolpower*. With 40 years of rigorous testing under our belts, Woolpower stands out as the best we've ever tested. Not only do these base layers provide exceptional insulation and comfort, but the quality of their make and their durability are unmatched. They form the perfect foundation upon which to add other elements of our clothing system, ensuring comfort and adaptability in all situations.
Thus, whether you're moving through the woods or lying in wait for your prey, layering with Woolpower as a foundation ensures a warm, comfortable experience, allowing you to remain focused on the hunt and refrain from making excess movement that might give away your position and potentially create noise.
During my hunts in Ontario, which sometimes stretch to December 31, I've faced icy temperatures as low as -25 Celsius. I vividly recall days when my lunch was frozen solid. In the face of this icy bite, Daniel and I trust our Confortek heated jackets and insoles. Being warm reduces our movements, making us more stealthy and harder to spot.
Here's a list of Daniel Larocque's Fanatic system in the Optifade Elevated camo:
The Optifade Elevated II camo from Sitka Gear, developed in partnership with GORE OPTIFADE, is a camouflage pattern optimized for deer hunting from tree stands at distances of 50 meters or less. Leveraging the unique vision characteristics of deer (which see in the blue and yellow spectrums), the pattern disrupts the human silhouette in wooded environments, using light and dark contrasts that mirror the natural interaction of treetop shadows and sky illumination when viewed from below.
The Ultimate Quiet and Cold-Resistant Outfit
Cold and Very Cold Weather
Very Cold Weather – Add a Good Base Layer
Extreme Cold Weather – Warm the Feet and Body as Needed
Given the essential nature of total silence, a noisy backpack won't help when accessing your gear. The Fanatic backpack by SITKA is one of the quietest we've found after years of searching. The SITKA team put in the work, and after multiple attempts, extensive design, and testing, they created the Fanatic backpack. While a bowhunter's backpack is often an afterthought, the Fanatic backpack is an integral part of the system, with each piece designed for absolute silence.
Clearly, this system isn't for every budget. It requires a substantial investment. However, in hindsight, I see that I've spent considerable amounts on low-end gear and clothing. Had I chosen the right gear from the start, I'd have realized significant savings in the long run. Of course, we didn't acquire all this gear at once. Each year, we gradually added to our collection.
My message here is that achieving silence is a serious commitment. It requires the right strategy, the right equipment, and unwavering adherence to that strategy. This level of dedication is what's required to consistently harvest mature deer with a bow.
I'm very interested in your comments and observations.
Happy hunting, and we hope you have a season that meets your expectations.
Michel Petit and collaborators