Is saddle hunting right for you?
Before you take the plunge into saddle hunting, there are some things you need to think about. The following questions can help determine if saddle hunting is right for you.
Can you be detail oriented?
It’s important your saddle and other gear be inspected regularly for signs of wear and tear. Your life will depend on how well you maintain and inspect your equipment. The same is true for traditional treestands, but safety is not often at the forefront of many hunter’s minds. It’s imperative for saddle hunters to be familiar with their safety features, understand why they’re important, and be comfortable with their use.
Are you willing to learn?
Saddle hunting requires learning about new equipment, new hunting positions, new ways of selecting trees, and new shooting techniques. Learning this system is both fun and very rewarding.
Are you ok with forging new ground?
Saddle hunting is a very new idea for the masses. Although the techniques have been around for many decades, the hunting general public is still ignorant about the system. It’s getting better everyday, but there are often solutions that you must discover for yourself. There won’t always be an off-the-shelf solution for the problem or situations you might encounter. Saddle hunters are generally people that enjoy DIY and trying new things.
Now that I’ve tried to scare you all off, let’s talk about the advantages of saddle hunting. There are many benefits of hunting from a saddle, but I’ll narrow it down to the top five.
#1 – MOBILITY
We’ll start off with one of the most important benefits; saddles are lighter and more packable than traditional tree stands. Some hunters choose to wear a saddle around their waist while walking to and from their hunting location. Others choose to roll it up and throw it in a pack. Either way, the small profile of a hunting saddle lends itself to quiet easy transportation. Good luck trying to transport a bulky metal tree stand inside a small hunting pack. My entire saddle setup weighs less than four pounds and can roll up to the size of a cantaloupe. The packability and light weight of the saddle allows you to be a more mobile hunter. One of the tactics almost universally accepted by hunters who consistently kill mature bucks is “first sit, best sit”. This means the first time you go into a big buck’s living room is the best time to kill him. Accordingly, many hunters adopt a mobile style of hunting. Being mobile means constantly finding new, fresh sign and terrain while refraining from hunting the same trees and locations over and over throughout the season. This can be difficult while lugging big, bulky, metal lock-on and climbing tree stands around the woods. Not to mention finding an area with hot sign only to
be unable to get your climbing tree stand in any of the trees.
#2 – AFFORDABILITY
Maybe your style of hunting isn’t very mobile. Maybe you like to set up trees all over your hunting property and bounce around based on wind, feed, and movement patterns. Bouncing around is a very popular style of hunting and requires multiple lock-on style stands to do it effectively. This can get quite expensive depending on how you find and purchase your stands, and how many trees you want to have prepared. With a saddle, a hunter could prep trees ahead of time and not leave any tree stands in the woods. One saddle will replace all your traditional lock-on treestands. The “bounce around” method can work great if you don’t mind buying lots of hang-on treestands, and you hunt private land where theft isn’t a serious concern. But what if you hunt mostly public land? There is a good possibility that traditional tree stands will be stolen if left in the hunting area for any substantial amount of time. Not only could they be stolen, but tree stands alert every hunter in the area about a new possible hot spot. Taking your hunting saddle in and out on every single hunt can solve these problems.
#3 – PRECISION
Once you’ve found an area you want to hunt, the saddle provides even more benefits. First of all, a climbing treestand is relegated to generally straight trees with few or no limbs. A hang-on stand is much less dependent on specific tree types, but still comes with limitations. With a saddle, any tree that can support your weight is a potential elevated ambush site. You are no longer limited by finding a good tree, you can focus on being in PRECISELY the right tree. I’ve heard stories of saddle hunters grabbing 3 or 4 saplings, tying them together at hunting height and hooking up their saddle. I certainly wouldn’t recommend this, but it’s possible.
#4 – STEALTH
Now that you’ve climbed the right tree, in the right location, the saddle allows you to hide behind the tree trunk for the ultimate camouflage. You no longer stick out like a sore thumb. Saddle hunters generally setup facing the direction in which the deer are expected to travel. Conversely, traditional treestands must be on the same side of the tree as the deer. Setting up on the opposite side allows the hunter to keep the tree trunk between his or her body and the deer’s line of sight; thus hiding the hunter from the deer’s view and eliminating the hunter’s outline completely. Saddle hunters can also slowly move around the tree to keep it between the deer’s line of sight. Once the time is right, a small quick movement is all it takes to move from behind the tree, draw your bow, and make a clean ethical shot.
#5 – SAFETY
Finally, any conversation about tree saddles wouldn’t be complete without talking safety. Many hunters don’t use any type of safety device with their tree stand. This is unfortunate, but true. Saddle hunters have built in safety devices that make it nearly impossible to fall when used properly under normal hunting conditions. There’s also a big difference between the way in which safety harnesses and hunting saddles approach falls. Safety harnesses do nothing to stop you from falling from the tree. They are designed to catch your fall and stop you from hitting the ground. Conversely, saddles are designed to prevent your fall in the first place. The examples above are a handful of the most obvious advantages to tree saddle hunting. Once familiar with a saddle system, hunters will discover even more like comfort, maneuverability, and increased shot opportunities. If you’d like to learn more about saddle hunting, check out the G2Outdoors YouTube channel and SaddleHunter.com for saddle hunting overload.