- Use the right string: cotton thread frays. Synthetic thread (nylon, polyester, etc) doesn't; neither does fishing line.
- Use enough: about twice the height of the branch seems good. I used about 70 feet for a 40-foot high branch.
- Hook: use a 4" tall S-hook or bent piece of 1/4" thick wire. It's small and heavy enough to throw accurately and high (better than bent hangers), cheap, and catches thin branches well, but not big branches.
- Attach a 5-10 lb. weight to the non-hook end of the string. Toss the hook over the branch around a foot from the chute. Pull it taught, then whip it around to break the branch if it's dead.
This can be applied to ugly dead branches, broken-off dead branches caught in lower branches, rockets, parachutes, model airplanes, kites, balloons - anything that can be caught in trees. I assume no liability for any damages. DO NOT use to shake cats loose from trees - cats don't always land on their feet, many will voluntarily climb down, and your local friendly fireman are glad to do it. Just covering all the metaphorical bases here.
I've created instructions for assembling the parachute. The material I have really is that sickly orange color. It's also available here
(If the image isn't there, then email me with the link at bottom and I'll send it to you.)
I'll add a parachute folding guide here soon.