While it is possible to use a long branch or a stick, a better solution is to make a permanent stick clip. The process is fairly easy. All of the items can be found at a local hardware store.
a long pole- Most climbers use extend-able painter's poles.
a clamp- Get a small sized clamp that will pinch a biner and allow the rope to run through the bottom so you can pull the rope through it.
2 hose clamps- These are used to attach the clamp to the pole. often people reinforce this with duct tape.
Put the hose clamps around the clamp and attach it to the pole. Then bam! You have a stick clip. Using the device is a bit more involved.
This article is awesome for people that want to hear a little bit more about how to stick clip the first bolt.
If you have any questions, one of the best hardware stores in the Bay Area is Papenhausen Hardware, located in San Francisco. Karl Aguilar and Audrey Bodisco, both bone crushing rock climbers, will be able to help you out.
Touchstone blogger, James Lucas has been busy trying to stick clip the first bolt in Rifle for a week. Unfortunately, the first bolt on his project is too high to clip. His next article is going to be about how to find a ropegun.