Make a tool to retrieve items dropped while in a tree stand from a #8/0 treble hook, a small magnet, some nylon cord, and a piece of PVC pipe. If you've ever climbed your stand and then dropped a glove, hat, release aid, or other item, you'll appreciate this easy to make tool. The hook should be able to catch just about any fabric article and the magnet should be strong enough to pick up a knife, multi-tool, broadhead, or release aid.
Step 1: Gather your tools & materials.
Material: (1) #8/0 treble hook, (1) 1-1/4"x1/2" PVC bushing, 20 to 30 feet of nylon cord, (1) heavy duty disk magnet, an old bicycle inner tube, Plastic Dip, two part epoxy, masking tape, and some sandpaper.
Tools: Hacksaw, utility sheers or scissors, leather punch, utility knife, punch, and a popsicle stick .
Step 2: Prepare the treble hook.
I suggest that you bend down the barbs on the hook. This will make it easier to remove the hook from your dropped item after it is retrieved. Leaving the barb up may result in snagging or tearing fabric items.
Step 3: Prpeare the hook and magnet for epoxy.
Use sandpaper or a piece of emery paper to "rough up" the underside of the hook and one side of the magnet. This will allow the epoxy to bond to both pieces. Most hooks are covered with with a varnish like coating to prevent rust. If this coating is not removed the epoxy will not adhere properly and the magnet will pop off at the most inopportune moment.
Step 4: Mix the epoxy.
I like to mix the epoxy right on my work bench. I place a couple pieces of 2" masking tape about 4" long right on the bench top and use the the flat surface to mix epoxy. This way I don't have to worry about trying to get an even mix in the bottom of a cup. It also allows me to use all the of the mix. You can also use a dixie cup, condiment cup, or any available clean container. Dispense equal amounts of both components and mix quickly & thoroughly using the popsicle stick. I used 5 minute epoxy, but you can use 30 minute, 4 hour or whatever you prefer. Once the epoxy cures on the tape you can peel it up and throw it away.
Step 5: Place the magnet on the hook.
Use the popsicle stick to apply the epoxy to the bottom of the hook bends. Then use the flat end of the punch to hold the magnet disk while epoxy is applied to the side that you sanded. Place the magnet on the underside of the hook bends being careful to center it in the gap. Use the popsicle stick to add some extra epoxy to the points where the magnet disk touches the bends. Be careful not to get too much excess epoxy on the disk face. Allow the epoxy to cure for the time indicated in the directions.
Step 6: Remove the excess epoxy.
Use the utility knife (Exacto Knife) to remove the excess epoxy from the face of the magnet disk. Excess epoxy on the magnet can inhibit the magnet's strength.
Step 7: Dip the hook into the Plastic Dip.
Coating the hook with the Plastic Dip prevents the hook from rusting, makes it easier to see from the top of the stand, and also helps prevent the hook from damaging whatever you're retrieving. Mix/stir the Plastic Dip per the instructions on the container. Slowly submerge the hook into the dip to the desired depth then slowly remove from the dip at the same rate it was submerged. Hang the hook from the eye with a piece of wire, paper clip, etc. I place a small dowel over a trash can and hang the hook from there until dry. Normally it can be handled in about 30 minutes and can be re-dipped. I usually dip the hook at least twice to give it some bulk. It will be completely cured in about 4 hours. Use the utility knife to remove the cured dip from the magnet face as you did with the epoxy.
Step 8: Prepare the spool.
The PVC bushing is used to store the hook while it is in your pack and as a spool for the cord. I use a 1-1/4"x1/2" reducing bushing because the smaller inside diameter of the fitting seems to house the hook shank better than the full sized pipe. But, you could use PVC pipe or any other item with a 1-1/4" outside diameter (OD) and an inside hole large enough to accommodate the shank and eye. Use the hacksaw to cut a small kerf about 1/4" deep in the outside edge of the bushing. This cut in the edge can be used to catch and hold the end of the cord after it is wound on to the spool. Make the cut at a slight compound angle for a better grip.
Step 9: Cut the inner tube for a keeper band.
Cut an approximately 1" wide strip from the bicycle inner tube. Use the leather punch to cut a large enough hole to allow the hook eye to pass through. You need to make a round hole for this application. A slit will result in a tear in the band when it is stretched. Use this band to stretch over the PVC fitting to keep the hook in place and to keep the cord from unraveling in your pack.
Step 10: Assemble the pieces of the tool
After the plastic dip has cured and you have removed the excess from the magnet face you are ready to attach the cord and wind up the spool. I use 100 lb test nylon fishing line for my cord. Spool off 20 to 30 feet of cord depending on the usual height of your tree stand and singe both ends to keep the cord from unraveling. Tie one end of the cord to the hook eye. Place the eye through the hole in the spool with the long end of the cord coming out of the spool one the side with the hook bends not the eye. This way you will not have to thread the spool off the line when it is unwound. Wind the line on to the spool and secure the tag end in the slot cut by the hack saw. Once the cord is wound onto the spool, stretch the inner tube band over it with the hook eye protruding through the hole in the band. Bring the other side of the band over the hook bends to secure the hook in the spool.
Step 11: Job complete.
This should pack nicely in you day pack. Hopefully, you'll never drop anything from your stand. But, if you're like me, you probably will. At least now you will be able to retrieve your lost item without climbing down. One final thought, since the magnets only come in a pack of 6 and once your hunting buddies see this little jewel they will most certainly want one, you might as well build 6 of these at a time and be the hero of your hunt club. Enjoy!