November 29, 2021
I’ll confess, I’m a bit of an adventurer — I like to explore new country and hunt new areas.
Hence, when I was mapping out plans for fall, one of the destinations I placed on my radar was the bowhunting-only counties of southern West Virginia. It’s a rugged region filled with steep hills, narrow valleys and old coal lands, which means if you’re scouting and hunting in the same short trip — as I will be — having a quality mobile setup is a good idea.
In anticipation of needing a solid saddle-hunting setup, over the summer I tested the new Hawk Helium HSP Platform and Helium 30-inch Climbing Sticks, since the two are designed to work in tandem. As someone who has long hunted hang-on, ladder and climbing stands, I was amazed when I opened the HSP box and saw the size of the platform — a compact 10x6 inches. Although it is by far the smallest perch I’ve ever seen, it also weighs only 1.4 pounds — perfect for the bowhunter on the go!
The most interesting aspect of the HSP is that it doesn’t need to be mounted or secured separately to the tree. Rather, it sits atop your highest climbing stick section. In fact, the platform is so compact it also fits nicely in a backpack, if you choose to carry it that way. Mounting the HSP is done by unscrewing and removing the top pair of steps from the climbing stick and then sliding the platform base over the top of the stick. Two cotterless hitch pins then lock the stand in place.
When you need to travel light, having a good set of mobile-friendly steps is essential, and the Helium 30-inch climbing sticks certainly fit the bill (they also make a 20-inch version). They’re sold in individual sections or as a set of three, and they’re easy to assemble, with only an Allen wrench and adjustable wrench needed for the job.
These sticks are streamlined and lightweight — weighing only 2.9 pounds each — making them easy to carry and handle in the field. They can also be bundled/stacked together via the suction cup system on the sticks and carried by hand or strapped to your backpack. The tree-digger teeth provide a firm grip on the tree, while the steps, which fold closed, feature boot grips and raised ends to offer solid traction on the climb.
Affixing the sticks to a tree is done by wrapping the strap around the trunk, hooking the end of the strap on the support peg and pulling the cam-buckle tight; removing them is accomplished by simply depressing the cam buckle to loosen and unhook the strap.
The beauty of the Helium sticks-and-platform setup is that collectively the four pieces weigh less than 10.5 pounds, which is a huge plus when you’re navigating rugged terrain or have a long distance to travel to your stand site. And although they’re lightweight, each piece is designed to handle up to 300 pounds, accommodating even big and tall hunters.
When it comes to the HSP Platform itself, this is a model that would work well for short hunts, especially when you don’t want to lug a larger, heavier platform around. You may, however, want to apply nonskid adhesive strips to the surface for added traction when hunting in the rain, especially considering the platform’s smaller size. I also recommend purchasing an extra set of hitch pins in case you lose or drop one while afield. Of course, safety is always the top priority when stand and saddle hunting, so carrying extra straps afield for added reinforcement when securing the climbing sticks to the tree is also worth considering.
If you’re interested in getting into saddle hunting, or looking to upgrade your mobile hunting rig to a more lightweight setup, this is definitely a combo to consider. I know I can’t wait to use mine this fall! — Associate Editor Mark Demko