Throughout the 2009-2010 deer season, I got to test out a camera tree arm system that was made by Muddy Outdoors. The season was an especially good season to see what this tree arm system could do. I hit the woods persistently, so I got to take the tree arm out more than enough. The season also offered various weather conditions: Sunny, Rainy, Snowy, and single digit temps. The system got to be used for all that it could be, and I was lucky to have it in most situations.
I received the tree arm system from Kevin Paulson – CEO and founder of huntinglife-com.huntinglife.com – after he used it up in Canada on a successful black bear hunt. When I got it I was excited to get it out in the woods and start messing with it. At first glance I noticed its attractive camouflage pattern, its small size, and the other remarkable components the arm had to offer. It has an impressive leveling system, great swiveling techniques, and unbelievable smoothness to ensure level and steady film. At first I was kind of worried due to its small size, but after taking it out a couple times I realized it was still durable and versatile.
I use a Sony HVR-Z7U, which is less than 10 pounds with all of my various accessories. It is maxing out the capability of the tree arm system… so if you have a larger camera (10 lbs+) then I would maybe consider getting a system that’s a little more durable. It says on the Muddy website that it holds a max of 10 lbs, but even at that weight you are putting stress on the swivel spots and the arm itself. I have had to tighten the locks of the leveling system as much as possible to make sure they don’t twist to get the footage “off level”.
The leveling system is convenient though, especially if you are like me, because I change stand locations at least twice a weekend to film various “hot spots”. All the trees I hunt out of don’t stand perfectly vertical where I attach the arm system base, so the leveling system helps me get the arm perfectly horizontal for great, level footage. The vertical leveling is very nice and it never gave me one problem. However it can be the most tiring work out of the hunt if I have to twist the knob completely up the screw. The horizontal leveling is very quick and efficient, but this is the part that gives me the most trouble with the weight of my camera. It has two locking bolts, and they slip when the camera is extend out on the arm due to leverage. Once again though, I just tighten the locking devices as hard as I can (without breaking anything) and it works.
The whole arm system is very fast and quite, so when you get out to the stand a little late you won’t spook any deer or mess up your morning (if your careful). The only bad thing about changing stands for me is that some trees that we use have too large of diameters for the strap of the base. The actual strap buckle is very durable, but it is quite loud when it locks after every notch. The teeth on the base part of the system make certain that the whole system doesn’t slip out of position and ruin anything.
The actual arm part of the system extends out plenty far to ensure a full 360 view around the tree to make every shot available that the hunter can make. The fluid head base at the end of the arm has a very large convenient base to make it universal for any fluid head of my liking. The arm part can sag a bit due to weight of the camera, but not enough to make a big deal
This was the first tree arm system I’ve ever used and I’m not 100% satisfied, but it is a good product and worth getting. Just because I’m not completely satisfied doesn’t mean it is not a quality piece of equipment. I think if I had a smaller camera I’d be completely satisfied, but who knows. So the only real problem I have had… is the weight of the camera. My camera is under the maximum capacity of the arm, but it still has given me problems. I’m going to continue using this tree arm though, and keep getting great footage until I can afford a more durable arm for my equipment needs. Below is a chart of my ratings….
Muddy, Co. Tree Arm System Rank out of 10 (10 is best)
- Size: 9
- Durability: 8
- Versatility: 10
- Dependability: 8
- Appearance: 10
- Overall: 9