Kim Delbridge spends a fair amount of time in tree stands, so it’s not surprising the event that eventually spawned his nifty invention took place while he was perched in a tree.
There Delbridge was, sitting in his stand, minding his own business (and waiting for a deer to pass by).
Then he dropped his hat … and bad things began happening.
He knew a human-scented hat lying on the forest floor wouldn’t help his chances of hunting success, so he did what many us have done.
He climbed down.
Before long, the gear he’d left in his stand began following.
“The quiver’s going one way and the bow’s going the other way and the bow must have shot about 15 feet [away from the tree],” Delbridge said. “They always say the worst sound you can hear in the Maine woods is the sound of deer laughing and that’s the sound I heard that day.”
Delbridge wasn’t pleased by the turn of events, and the impromptu gear avalanche stuck with him.
In fact, it bugged him every time he went hunting.
“After that, every time I sat in my stand I thought, ‘You know, if there was a product that would have gotten that hat for me, I could have avoided all this,’” Delbridge said. “So that’s how I got the idea that maybe I should put some time in my shop and figure something out.”
Figure something out, he did. And now, six years later, you can get your hands on that “something.”
Delbridge, who lives in Bucksport, calls his invention the “Tree Talon.”
According to the patent application, it’s a “gravity-activated retrieval device.” According to Delbridge, it’s “a mechanical device that’s impact-activated.” According to the product label, it’s a “tree stand gear retriever.”
And according to me, it’s sheer genius.
Picture a hand on a rope. OK … maybe not a hand. But a thumb … and a hook-shaped finger. Pull the finger back to cock it, then lower the rope until it gets close to your hat … or glove … or arrow.
Then raise the rope slightly, drop the Tree Talon to trigger the finger, and … you guessed it … you’re hooked.
Using the Tree Talon is the rough equivalent of fishing from a tree. The Tree Talon is your hook. You provide the line. And the fish? That’s whatever you have clumsily dropped from your stand.
Delbridge said after thinking of all kinds of devices that could serve as a model for his invention, he began looking more closely at human anatomy.
“We started with everything [on the table]. I started with a carnival three-claw [device], then went to a two-claw, trying to figure out a way to [invent a device that would retrieve dropped items],” Delbridge said.
“Ultimately I was looking at the way you would pick up a pen off a table and I said, ‘You know … if you could just lower your hand down there and grab things, that would be perfect.”
More or less, that’s what the Tree Talon is.
Delbridge got help from the folks at the Maine Center for Innovative Technology on his project, and eventually worked with an engineer who helped him produce the finished product.
He rolled out the Tree Talon for a national sporting trade show in 2006, and continues to assemble and package Tree Talons from the basement of his Bucksport business, Banner City Graphics.
Delbridge said from the beginning, he received the kind of feedback that told him his invention might have a future.
“It’s interesting, because when people pass by you at a show, you can always see, they take one step, the light goes on, and they go, ‘You know, I could have used that thing,’” Delbridge said.
As could most of us, at one time or an-other.
Delbridge said the Tree Talon can lift up to 35 pounds, which means it can be used as a hoist to lift bows and packs to the tree stand.
And he pointed out that while convenience is a key selling point, the most important factor to consider is safety.
Most tree stand accidents, Delbridge said, occur when a hunter is climbing into or out of a stand.
And reducing the number of times hunters have to enter and exit a stand can’t help but make them safer, he said.
Delbridge said he’s been talking with major outfitters and expects to be sold in some of the world’s largest stores in the near future.
Industry experts said finding the proper price point for the Tree Talon was essential, and Delbridge settled on an affordable $19.95 as an acceptable suggested retail price.
One warning: Tie your Tree Talon to your stand.
Yes, it’s embarrassing to drop something from your tree stand. And yes, it would be even more embarrassing if the object you dropped was your gear-retrieval device … and you had to climb down to retrieve it.
Of course, if you don’t want to add any more ropes to your tree stand, Delbridge would understand if you bought two Tree Talons — one to inadvertently drop, and one to retrieve the one you dropped.
If you’re interested in learning more about Delbridge’s invention, you can learn all about it at www.Treetalon.com.
You can also call 469-1900 if you’re interested in adding one to your gear pack.